NBC Smuggled a Whole Starbucks to Sochi

NBC employees enjoy illicit lattes during the Olympics


The only official coffee purveyor at the 2014 Olympics is McDonald's, but NBC employees have their own Starbucks to supply them.

If NBC presenters seem a bit peppier than usual, it could be because they have a secret caffeine source hidden away in their Olympic pavilion. NBC actually smuggled in a secret Starbucks just for its employees. 

Starbucks is not an Olympic sponsor, and only official Olympic sponsors are allowed to have a presence on the grounds. Officially, the only coffee purveyor on the grounds is McDonald’s. But the familiar mermaid cups were spotted around Sochi, and they were eventually traced back to NBC.

In the NBC broadcasting center, there is a whole Starbucks kiosk that operates 24 hours a day and gives out free coffee to the 2,500 people NBC sent to the Olympics. According to the Wall St. Journal, NBC flew in 15 baristas from other Starbucks locations in Russia and is housing them and paying their wages to work at the private coffee shop.

"It's what Napoleon said: An army travels on its stomach," said John Fritsche, NBC's senior vice president of Olympic operations. "We, in a lot of ways, operate that way."

NBC maintains that its Starbucks does not break any rules because the Starbucks is hidden inside the NBC facilities and is not open to the public.

“It’s a personal item,” Fritsche said.

The International Olympic Committee said the Starbucks was acceptable as a “supplementary facility,” provided the Starbucks does not publicize or suggest an association with the Olympics. Nobody else really seems to have a problem with the secret Starbucks outpost, either. Coca-Cola is aware of the kiosk and a spokesperson said they were not concerned. McCafé was similarly calm.

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