The sad tale of the three Olympian-less states

Chris Chase

The United States will send 596 athletes hailing from 47 different states to the upcoming Beijing Games. This immediately brings to mind one question: Which are the three loser states without an Olympian?

Not surprisingly, two of the three Olympian-less states are also among the least populous in the nation -- North Dakota (#48 in population) and Montana (#44). On the other hand, West Virginia can't make that, or any, excuse. The state is 37th in population which, while not huge, is still bigger than 11 other states that managed to produce an Olympian. Plus, there's also, like, 15 Olympic events that feature prominent usage of guns. The table was set, West Virginia. You just didn't sit down for the meal.

But, we're not here to make fun. Instead, here's a list of things residents of each non-Olympic state can be proud of during the two weeks of the Beijing Games:

North Dakota:

  • Is not South Dakota.
  • Northern-most of the Dakotas.


  • Boasts 60%% of entrances to Yellowstone National Park.
  • State butterfly, the mourning cloak, sounds like something out of a Harry Potter book. Those books are very popular, so, by extension, Montana is very popular.

West Virginia:

  • In Live Free or Die Hard, John McClane spends about 14 screen minutes in the fictional town of Middleton, WV.
  • Is not the home state of Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth

Update: A reader notes that U.S.A. Baseball player Jeremy Cummings was born in West Virginia. The official USOC athlete list was compiled before Cummings was added to the team on July 22. Apologies to West Virginia; congratulations on your one Olympic athlete. Although, having just one athlete might be even more pathetic than having none. At least there's a badge of honor in having none. One is just sort of sad.