The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio will be the 11th time sports broadcaster Bob Costas has hosted Olympics coverage for NBC. He’s been calling the games for the Peacock Network since 1992 in Barcelona. Costas has an incredible 17 Sports Emmy Awards, as well as a Primetime Emmy for his 1988-1993 series Later with Bob Costas.
Costas, 64, is also one of the highest-paid sports broadcasters in the country. Celebrity Net Worth estimates that his net worth is at $45 million and his annual salary is an estimated $7 million.
Here’s a look at Costas’ career at the Olympics and his thoughts on the games.
1. Costas’ Favorite Olympic Sports Are the Track Events, but He’s Really Looking Forward to Gymnastics
In an interview with The Dan Patrick Show on July 29, Costas said that his favorite Olympic sports are the track events. He’s also looking forward to swimming and gymnastics.
“Track events are the most classic events,” Costas said. “Of course, swimming has moved way up there. It always was one of the premier Olympic events, and now in the [Michael] Phelps era even more so.
He also added that Simone Biles will likely deliver “the greatest performance of any female gymnast in the history of the Olympics” and Japan’s Kohei Uchimura could prove to be the greatest Olympic male gymnast.
The day before the games kick off on August 5, Costas hosted an hour-long special on NBC to give a preview of the games.
2. Costas Has Been Covering the Olympics for NBC Since 1992
While the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain are best remembered for the Team U.S.A. Basketball “Dream Team,” it was also the first Olympics that Costas hosted coverage of for NBC. The Rio games will be his 11th. In an interview with AdWeek, he said that the biggest change since then has been the additional coverage.
“In Barcelona, we had some 90 hours and people marveled at that,” Costas said. “If you look at the Olympics that Jim McKay hosted [in the ’70s and ’80s], the relative number of hours on American TV was miniscule compared to what we have now.”
Costas also said in that interview that he has complete control over his Olympics future. He said:
I’m just taking it on a case-by-case basis. We’ll see what happens after this one. NBC has been nice enough to let me and the public know that it’s up to me. I can stay as long as I like, as long as I can still do the job. I’ll make that decision and it will come before anybody has to push me out the door. When I step aside, I’ll still be able to do the job. It will just be because I feel like I’ve had a long enough run and it’s time to do it.
3. Costas Was Part of the Widely-Criticized 2012 London Opening Ceremony Broadcast
The 2012 London Games did not go well for NBC. The decision to air only an edited version of the opening ceremony was widely criticized, along with the refusal to air some important events like and cutting the closing ceremony early so it could air the pilot of the soon-to-be-cancelled Animal Practice. It all sparked #NBCFail to trend on Twitter.
Costas was not immune to criticism, especially thanks to the commentary he, Meredith Vieira and Matt Lauer added to the opening ceremony. As The Independent notes, Costas brought up Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat when Kazakhstan came out during the Parade of Nations. When Uganda came out, Costas made a joke about dictator Idi Amin.
Costas did criticize NBC for cutting away from the closing ceremony early. “NBC decides at that moment they should provide America with a sneak preview of Animal Practice, and then come back an hour later … and check in on The Who,” Costas told Conan O’Brien. “… So here is the balance NBC has to consider: The Who, Animal Practice. Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend — monkey in a lab coat. I’m sure you’d be the first to attest, Conan, that when it comes to the tough calls, NBC usually gets ’em right.”
4. Costas Denied That His 2014 Eye Infection Was due to a Botox Injection
During the 2014 Sochi Games, Costas had to give up his hosting duties for six nights because of a case of viral conjunctivitis. Viewers noticed his eyes getting redder and puffier as the games went on and he had to wear glasses instead of his contacts. Costas was replaced by Matt Lauer and Meredith Vieira, but he came back to the broadcast before the games ended.
It sparked a rumor that Costas was taking Botox shots and the infection was the result of an injection gone bad. However, an NBC Sports spokesperson told the New York Post that this wasn’t true.
As Sports Illustrated pointed out, the eye infection ended a remarkable 157 consecutive nights streak of Olympics coverage hosted by Costas on NBC.
5. Costas Was Accused of Being Biased Against Chinese Athletes After Comments on PED Use
Costas has often courted controversy when his comments veer away from sports. Back in 1996, during the Atlanta Games, Chinese student groups raised $21,000 to put an ad in the New York Times and other papers to complain about Costas’ comments on alleged performance enhancing drug use by Chinese athletes. However, Costas’ comments did come after swimming coach Zhou Ming was suspended after seven of his swimmers tested positive for steroid use in 1994.
Although PED use is always a concern at the Olympics, it has drawn even more attention in the lead up to Rio because of the IOC’s decision not to completely ban Russia from the games after an international report found evidence of doping. In an interview with The Today Show, Costas said there will be a “cloud of suspicion” hanging over any Russian athlete who wins a medal in Rio.
During the Television Critics Association Press Tour last month, Costas talked about the other issues at Rio, including the polluted water, notes The Hollywood Reporter.
“These athletes are dealing with it. And, in some cases, the best they’ve been told is try to keep your mouth closed,” Costas said. “That’s rather difficult when you’re swimming, even in your backyard pool, let alone in open water. It’s going to be impossible, in some cases, not to address some of the issues that have come up because they will directly intersect with the competition.”