HEBRON — The Redneck Olympics are facing a legal challenge from the United States Olympic Committee, according to organizer Harold Brooks.
Brooks said he received a phone call Monday from a legal office of the USOC, telling him he needs to change the name of his event in the future or face a lawsuit.
He was told the word “Olympics” is the property of the Olympic Committee. Brooks said it’s a case of large group bullying a small businessman.
“I said, ‘I’m not basing it on your Olympics, I’m basing it on the Olympics in Greece.’” Brooks said.
“I understand we can’t use the word ‘Pepsi,’ but we can use the word ‘soda.’ The Olympics has been around for thousands of years.”
It wouldn’t be the first time the USOC has threatened to sue someone for using the word “Olympics” in a name. Under the U.S. Amateur Sports Act of 1978, the committee has exclusive rights to the name in the U.S.
A Minnesota band called “The Olympic Hopefuls” was forced to change its name to “The Hopefuls” in 2009. In 1982, an athletic event called the “Gay Olympics” changed its name to the “Gay Games” when the committee threatened a lawsuit.
According to the Special Olympics website, the USOC gave special permission for the Special Olympics to use the word in 1971.
Brooks said he has no plan to change the name. “People told me this is the only Olympics they’ll ever go to,” he said. Most of his guests couldn’t afford to fly to the real Olympics, he said, and he said no one would ever confuse the two events.
“I’m going to refuse to not use that word,” he said.
A call to the United States Olympic Committee was not immediately returned Tuesday.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story misnamed the United States Olympic Committee. It has been corrected.