Brayden Olson, a 27-year-old Seattle-based entrepreneur, says tons of women have reached out to him because they think he is the “real-life” Christian Grey, the fictional male character in “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
A hugely popular erotic novel, “Fifty Shades of Grey” follows the BDSM relationship between 27-year-old Seattle billionaire Christian Grey and his college-student partner, Anastasia Steele. More than 100 million copies of the book have been sold worldwide, and the newly released movie adaption has dominated the box office since its debut over Presidents Day weekend.
During a Skype call from London, Olson told Business Insider that a few years ago a woman he dated briefly pointed out over lunch that he was similar to Grey. He had not yet read the book series, but over time more and more people started making the same association, he said.
“I started getting messages from people I didn’t know.”
Leading up to the movie, he said, about 1,000 fans of the book reached out over email and through Facebook messages and friend requests.
“I knew the movie would bring more attention, but I continue to be really surprised by the whole matter,” he said.
He said some women have even flown out to Seattle to meet him. He acknowledged he had gone on dates with some of them, too.
Olson, who has now read the book and seen the film, said some of the similarities were “pretty mind-numbing.”
First, he feels as if he relates to Grey in professional aspects.
“So, I like to point out the professional and bibliographical similarities. I do run a holding company. I live in Seattle. I was voted Seattle’s ‘best man.’ I’m the youngest entrepreneur ever admitted to the entrepreneurs’ organisation in my region,” he told us, listing off other achievements.
Olson, who like Grey wears suits most days, runs a holding company called Wilhelm Enterprises. The company, which is derived from Olson’s middle name, is involved in education gaming technology and real estate.
In the series, Grey, who runs his namesake firm Grey Enterprises, is a billionaire. Olson is not.
“Christian Grey has got me beat,” Olson said. “He is a character from a book. I don’t think a real person can compete. I claim to be the real Brayden Olson. I’m sure you can relate to how strange it would be to have a fictional character made up and so many things true about you in your real life.”
Olson, who said he was proud of his professional accomplishments so far, pointed out that it seemed as if Grey never has to actually work.
“I definitely have to actually work.”
“I have a successful career; I do not have a Charlie Tango, yet,” he said, referring to Grey’s helicopter.
Olson would not really have a use for a helicopter in Seattle anyway, as he would have to get laws passed there to fly — only news and medical choppers are allowed within city limits.
One toy Olson has that Grey doesn’t is a BMW i8. Grey drives an Audi R8.
“I think it’s definitely a Christian Grey type of car,” Olson said.
There’s a waitlist for the BMW supercar. Olson said this was one way he had been able to capitalise on this association to the character of Christian Grey.
“The guy who owns one of the dealerships in Washington essentially gave up his car so that I could have it because he saw it as an opportunity to associate it with the real Christian Grey,” Olson said.
He continued: “There’s some things money can’t buy — I know at Bellevue BMW they had someone offer $US250,000 to skip the waitlist — where influence and power are more important than cash.”
He declined to name the price he paid for the BMW. The car starts at about $US136,000.
Beyond the professional parallels, Olson pointed out a subtler similarity people close to him have noticed.
In the series, Grey refers to Anastasia Steele as “Miss Steele.” Olson picked up this habit of using “Miss”and “Mr.” back in college.
“It was always Miss and Mr.,” he said. “I stopped doing that when the association was brought to my attention.”
Olson also said he always had an interest in flying like Grey before he was introduced to the series. He decided to take up scuba diving instead.
As for those other extracurricular activities Christian Grey is drawn to, Olson has used it as an opportunity to advocate a good cause.
“The popularity of this work gives us an opportunity to discuss a different difficult topic — domestic violence,” Olson said. “It exists in every community and affects a significant portion of our society. I donate to my local domestic violence program called LifeWire, and I encourage others to become active in the conversation however they can. The line between choosing to show affection more non-traditionally as seen in ’50 Shades of Grey’ and moving into the category of domestic violence is consent and desire. Remember, Ana and Christian negotiated their contract in the boardroom!”
Right now, Olson is single. He hasn’t found his Anastasia Steele, yet.
“This is just a moment in my life,” he said. “Christian’s story is over a two- or three-year period. This is just the beginning of my career, and this is what I want to do in business and politics and nonprofit work — I want to leave a legacy with someone who is capable of building it with me.”
*Editor’s Note: We should mention that Business Insider didn’t think it was worth the resources to confirm Olson’s whole story, so take this post for what you will. Regardless, Olson’s story is certainly an unusual one.