Bluff The Listener Our panelists tell three stories about Olympic athletes having trouble on their way home, only one of which is true.
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Bluff The Listener

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Bluff The Listener

Bluff The Listener

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. We are playing this week with Tom Bodett, Roy Blount, Jr. and Paula Poundstone. And here again is your host at Tanglewood in Lenox, Mass., Peter Sagal.


Thank you, Bill. Right now, it is time...


SAGAL: ...For the WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME Bluff The Listener game. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to play our game on the air.

Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

SARAH CYR-MUTTY: Hi, Peter. This is Sarah Cyr-Mutty, and I'm calling from Brooklyn, N.Y.

SAGAL: Hey, how are things in Brooklyn?

CYR-MUTTY: It's great.


CYR-MUTTY: I'm actually originally from western Massachusetts, from Deerfield, and my parents are in the audience.

SAGAL: Oh, that's exciting.


SAGAL: Your - wait a minute, your parents are in the audience here? You feeling a little - I mean, 'cause it's one thing to have a radio audience listening but it's another thing to have your parents staring when you're trying to do well.

CYR-MUTTY: (Laughter).

SAGAL: All right, I understand. We'll just move on.

CYR-MUTTY: Yeah, it's a lot more pressure.

SAGAL: All right, Sarah, it's nice to have you with us. You're going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what is Sarah's topic?

KURTIS: The problems didn't end with the closing ceremony.

SAGAL: Thousands of Olympic athletes in Rio successfully dodged weird green water, Zika mosquitoes and Ryan Lochte, but it was still difficult. This week, we learned at least one of them had problems on the way home. Our panelists are going to tell you about this. Pick the real story, you'll win our prize - Carl Kasell's voice on your voicemail. You ready to play?

CYR-MUTTY: Yes, I am.

SAGAL: Well, first, let's hear from Roy Blount, Jr.

ROY BLOUNT JR: Great Britain did very well in the Rio Olympics - won lots of medals. So the whole team richly deserved the special flight back to London that British Airlines laid on for them and the cool, new travel uniforms they wore, the champagne they drank aloft and, perhaps especially, their spanking new sets of very nice, bright red luggage. As the Olympians landed, after their 12-hour flight, they spontaneously burst into "God Save The Queen." Then they went to baggage claim where they found their snazzy baggage all lined up for them, hundreds - some accounts say 320, others say 900 - identical red bags.


BLOUNT JR: Sorting out which was whose took nearly four hours. Well, we've all had bad airport baggage experiences, and yet the online comments on this story have been remarkably unsympathetic, some downright insulting, and at least one is way out of line. You know what else was a bad idea? Taxation without representation.


SAGAL: The British team, finding out when they arrived back home...


SAGAL: ...That everybody having free matching luggage isn't a good idea. Your next story of an Olympic return mishap comes from Paula Poundstone.

PAULA POUNDSTONE: What do you do when you need to use the bathroom on a plane, you're in row 27, in the window seat, the guy in the aisle seat beside you is sawing wood and the drink cart is between you and your destination? If you are Olympic star Simone Biles on Flight 1032, returning from Rio with victorious U.S. women's gymnastics team, you step on the back of the seat in front of you like it's the most natural thing in the world and leap from seatback to seatback the length plane.

It was stunning, says undercover air marshal, Nicholas Glass (ph). Normally I would restrain a passenger behaving that way, but when she vaulted the drink cart, knocking over nothing but a stack of the useless cocktail napkins and stuck the landing, I put my plastic restraints away and gave her an 8.0, which would have been a perfect 10 if she hadn't knocked over the useless cocktail napkins.

I didn't even think about it, said Miss Biles. It's just what I've been trained to do my entire life. Flight attendant Shelly Williams (ph) had a different perspective. If I hadn't ducked, she would've kicked me right in the head. And we have to inventory those cocktail napkins, you know? If she's ever on a flight of mine again, trust me, her bag won't fit in the overhead compartment and she's not likely to make her connecting flight.

Still, Miss Biles' fellow passengers, treated to a travel experience they will never forget, roared with applause and approval. I think this seals her place as the greatest athlete of all time, says Air Marshal Glass. It's not like Michael Phelps is going to swim up the aisle to the restroom.


SAGAL: Simone Biles, the champion gymnast, solving an airplane problem in a way that only she can. Your last story of someone blowing it on the way home from Rio comes from Tom Bodett.

TOM BODETT: Guatemalan pole vaulter Leonardo Ramirez (ph) missed the team charter plane back to Guatemala City and so did his cherished 16-foot pole, the pole that his entire family worked and sacrificed to buy for his Olympic odyssey. Finishing in last place without once clearing the bar and missing his ride home, the sad athlete's real odyssey only began as he and his pole tried to bus, hitchhike and beg their way across the 4,000 rugged miles back to Guatemala. His trusty side-stick (ph) proved a liability while negotiating the crowded Rio train station, bloodying noses, clearing tables and nearly neutering an unlucky conductor.

But the pole proved invaluable once he'd reached the end of the train and bus routes and headed into the remote northwest territories of Brazil. It made a handy barge pole while crossing the Amazon River on a cut-rate ferry, he kept wild boars at a safe distance while the walking - during the walking portion of his trip and even served as a balancing rod while crossing a treacherous gorge in Venezuela on a swaying, suspended bridge.

But the highlight of this unlikely buddy trip was recorded on the smartphone of a border guard on the Nicaragua-Honduras frontier and then gone viral on the internet, which showed Ramirez sprint, plant his pole and vault cleanly atop a northbound freight train, which carried him all the way to Guatemala City and a hero's welcome.

SAGAL: All right.


SAGAL: There was a little difficulty on the way home from Rio for some athlete or athletes. Was it, from Roy Blount, how the British team found that since everybody had accepted the gift of matching luggage nobody knew whose bag was whose when they landed; from Paula Poundstone, how gymnast Simone Biles had to use her skills to escape from her seat in a crowded plane to do what was necessary; or from Tom Bodett, how a stranded Guatemalan pole vaulter used his pole to get home with his pole? Which of these is the real story of a post-Olympic adventure?

CYR-MUTTY: Oh, man. I love the idea of Simone Biles jumping all over everyone, but I think I'm going to go with Roy's story of the luggage.

SAGAL: Roy's story.


SAGAL: OK, your choice is Roy's story about the British team's bags. Well, to find out the real story, well, let's listen to this.


CHAD CARTER: Team Britan flies home from Rio de Janeiro with 900 identical red bags and reportedly took several hours to sort out.

SAGAL: That was Chad Carter from NewsBeat Social talking about the British Olympic team's matching luggage. You were right. You did it. In front of God, the world and your parents, you picked the right story. That means you win our prize. Congratulations. Well done.

CYR-MUTTY: Oh, thank you so much.


SAGAL: Thank you for playing, Sarah.

BODETT: Thanks, Sarah.


JAMES BROWN: (Singing) Ain't no drag, Papa's got a brand-new bag.

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