Skip to main content Skip to header navigation

Eddie the Eagle: 18 things you didn’t know about the real Olympic underdog

Michael “Eddie the Eagle” Edwards surprised everyone by representing Great Britain in Olympic ski jumping in the 1988 Olympics in Calgary. Though he finished last in the event, he became beloved by the public who saw him as an underdog because he lacked both the skill and funds to be a posh Olympic athlete. Now, Hugh Jackman and Taron Egerton star in a new movie about his life called Eddie the Eagle. Here are 18 things about the unconventional skier not included in the movie. 

Eddie the Eagle
Image: 20th Century Fox

1. Eddie started as a pretty decent downhill skier

When Edwards failed to make his country’s downhill ski team in the 1984 Olympics, he turned his focus to ski jumping to follow his Olympic dream, since there were no other ski jumpers competing on behalf of Great Britain. The fact that he was 20 pounds heavier than the average ski jumper did not deter him.

More: 11 Facts about the tragic Everest climb not in the movie

2. Extremely farsighted

Eddie the Eagle
Image: 20th Century Fox

Due to vision problems, Edwards was forced to wear eyeglasses at all times. His glasses often fogged up beneath his goggles, rendering him nearly blind during his jumps.

3. He earned many nicknames

His nicknames included “Mr. Magoo,” “ski dropper,” “Inspector Clouseau on skis,” “Abominable Snowman” and “Unsteady Eddie.” However, it was at the Winter Olympics’ closing ceremony when the president of the organizing committee, Frank King, said, “At these Games, some competitors have won gold, some have broken records and some of you have even soared like an eagle,” clearly referring to Eddie, who’s been known as Eddie the Eagle ever since.

4. Lived briefly in a Finnish mental asylum

Eddie wasn’t mentally ill, but rather, the asylum had the cheapest room and that was all he could afford.

5. Jumped in secondhand gear

Because he had no money and no sponsors, Eddie collected most of his ski gear from the lost and found. At one point, the piece of string holding his helmet together broke and it bounced off his head into the trees.

6. Torchbearer in 2010

Eddie the Eagle
Image: The Star

Edwards dutifully carried the Olympic torch relay in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

7. Cool Runnings inspired producer to make Eddie the Eagle

Cool Runnings
Image: Disney

Movie producer Matthew Vaughn showed his kids the film Cool Runnings, about the Jamaican bobsled team who were another group of athletic underdogs, also from the 1988 Olympics. His kids adored Cool Runnings and he thought they would also love Eddie the Eagle, so he gave the film a green light.

More: Everest: Rob Hall’s wife Jan Arnold reveals her feelings about the film

8. Eddie rode a zip line with a member of the Jamaican bobsled team

Eddie the Eagle Devon Harris
Image: the Daily Mail

In 2008, Edwards returned to Calgary to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the 1988 game and did a zip line with Devon Harris from the 1988 Jamaican bobsled team. Their underdog story was immortalized in the film Cool Runnings.

9. Eddie wrote a book in 1999

On the Piste
Image: Amazon

Edwards released a book (and a video) called On the Piste with Eddie Edwards. Piste is the French word for ski trail or run.

10. Plastic surgery

Known for having a prominent chin, a dentist reset Eddie’s lower jaw and realigned his bite so it no longer juts out. He also traveled to Budapest to have his teeth done.

11. Laser surgery on his eyes

To promote his business, a laser eye surgeon performed free surgery on Eddie to correct his farsightedness, so he no longer needs those Coke-bottle glasses. He hasn’t gotten rid of the glasses, however. He told the Daily Mail, “I’ve kept them and I will put them on if people want it. People expect to see me in them. It’s daft, really, because I can’t see through them, but I don’t like to disappoint.”

More: 9 Ways Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq film copies a famous Greek play

12. Eddie’s had numerous marriage proposals

Eddie the Eagle
Image: WENN

Despite his awkward looks before all the upgrades, Eddie claims he had lots of interest from the ladies. He told the Daily Mail, “Women used to write to me and say, ‘If you are ever in the Birmingham area, pop over.’ Weird. Sadly, my sister used to run my fan club, so I never saw a lot of those. She whisked them out! There were also a lot of women in nightclubs when I was doing personal appearances. That was crazy. Before, I’d never once talked to a woman in a nightclub. It just wouldn’t have happened.”

13. Eddie’s now happily married with two kids

Michael Edwards and his wife, Samantha
Image: the Daily Mail

Eddie now lives in the quaint village of Woodchester with his wife, Samantha, and his two daughters Ottilie and Honey.

14. Eddie became a singer

Eddie recorded two songs in Finnish, despite not speaking the language. The first was called “Eddien Siivellä,” or “Fly Eddie Fly.” The second was called “Mun Nimeni On Eetu” or “My Name is Eddie,” and it reached No. 2 on the Finnish pop charts. Edwards even went on tour.

15. He declared bankruptcy in 1992

Eddie claims a trusteeship that was supposed to invest his income misused his money, leaving him with nothing. Dealing with the legal system, however, inspired him to go back to school and earn a law degree.

16. Appeared on the celebrity diving show Splash!

Because he’s a great acrobat and totally fearless, Eddie did very well on the high dive.

17. His latest obsession is dancing

Eddie goes dancing up to four nights a week, and loves swing and jazz.

18. He channeled Austin Powers for a British dancing show

Eddie the Eagle opens Feb. 25.

Leave a Comment

Comments are closed.