After the two-man team qualified for the games, donations came pouring in to the site where a collection page was set up.
Chris Stokes, general secretary of the Jamaican Bobsled Federation, said the idea that the team wouldn’t go was never the reality. The team, he said, pays for its way to Sochi while the local organization committee takes care of the athletes while in Russia. He did say, however, that the team still needs $80,000.
Stokes said the team, which trained in Evanston, Wyo., wasn’t quite running on the shoestring budget memorialized in the movie “Cool Runnings,” a film loosely based on the exploits of the 1988 Jamaican bobsled team, but it surely hasn’t been working with all the essentials either.
“We have not come close to covering our costs,” Stokes told ESPN.com on Monday. “We have many outstanding obligations, and we have to pay three more weeks of training. We’ve had very lonely days when we struggled to make ends meet by borrowing equipment. Our guys haven’t had the proper jackets.”
Funding issues hampered the Jamaicans’ hopes of competing just four years earlier in Vancouver.
Crowdtilt CEO James Beshara said that because the idea behind the funding changed from getting the Jamaicans to the Olympics to covering their costs, the site would allow those who had already donated on the original premise to opt out if they didn’t want to support the team in its new capacity.
As of Monday, the site’s Jamaican bobsled funding page had raised $49,348.
The company says about 70 percent of the contributions have come from U.S.-based credit and debit cards in at least 42 states, while around 20 percent of the contributions have come from payments of Jamaican origin.
Lincoln Wheeler, who started the campaign through Crowdtilt, said he was thrilled to have helped the team raise as much as it did in such a short period of time.
“It’s wild to harness the power of the Internet like this,” said Wheeler, a consultant who lives in Washington, D.C. “Obviously the movie had some influence, but I think this also became about the idea that we, as fans, could have an opportunity to influence sports.”