Olympic track legend Usain Bolt, whose infectious mid-race smile made for a breakout meme of the Rio Olympics this summer, had another chance to show off his comedy chops recently in a new commercial for the Jamaican telecom Digicel.
The subtly branded video features the Jamaica-born sprinter jamming out in a studio, lip-syncing an original auto-tuned holiday ballad about “sprint-sprint-sprinting through [his] Christmas list,” among other things.
In a FaceTime conversation with Mashable, the easy-going star talked about his meme-dom fame, his unlikely source of fitness motivation and what his success has meant for his sport’s popularity in his home country and abroad.
Bolt, who regularly updates his various social media accounts with playful family anecdotes, pictures with celebrity friends and luxury spoils, clearly knows his way around a meme. But the wildfire popularity of his Olympics smile shot this summer still surprised him.
“People were saying I was actually smiling at [Canadian runner Andre] De Grasse, but it was just a coincidence,” Bolt says. “But it went viral, and it was kinda cool.”
When asked if he has any go-to exercise apps, Bolt says he’s not big on them but shouts out comedian Kevin Hart as a fitness role model.
“One of my biggest motivations is actually Kevin Hart just watching his Snaps he’s always working out,” Bolt said. “He’s a morning person; I’m not… He motivates me.”
Bolt says he’s grateful for the renewed popularity that his world records and nine gold medals have bestowed on his sport among younger generations.
“People have said, ‘I’ve gotten into track-and-field because of you,'” he said. “I really try to interact with people all the time.”
As for what he looks for in the products he endorses, Bolt says it’s usually about finding projects that fit his laid-back personality.
“It’s always just the energy,” Bolt says. “When I heard this concept that I was going to be lip-syncing I was skeptical. But when I heard the music and the vibes, it was really good. It’s something different.”
“I’ve always wondered if I can sing, but I know I can’t,” he continues. “So it was a good thing I was lip-syncing.”