A shirtless taekwondo fighter from Tonga became the unlikely star of the Olympics opening ceremony on Friday. Mere days later, the muscular heartthrob says that his life has dramatically transformed.
Pita Taufatofua, 32, is Tonga’s first Olympic taekwondo athlete, and this is his first Olympic games. He was chosen to be his country’s flag bearer during the opening ceremony’s parade of nations, and took on the task with gusto: He emerged Friday night drenched in oil and wearing only a traditional Tongan wrap. Instantly, the Internet’s collective heart was aflutter.
Since then, Taufatofua has received suggestive photos, marriage proposals, and job offers from movie producers and modelling agencies, Yahoo Sports reports. He’s picked up tens of thousands of Instagram followers, too.
“I got onto the bus Friday night, turned on my phone and I was shocked,” Taufatofua told Yahoo. “Someone told me, ‘You’ve done more for Tongan tourism in one night than the past 20 years of advertisement.'”
Taufatofua grew up in a humble village in Ha’apai, working on a farm to earn 20 cents a week. But his father, who has a PhD, valued education and ensured that each of his six children graduated to college. (Yes — in case the chiselled physique wasn’t enough — he also has an engineering degree.)
Taufatofua told Yahoo that he’s enjoyed the newfound fame — at least, most of the time. “There are a few Snapchat things I probably shouldn’t have opened,” he said.
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