The US Olympic team's logo only has 13 stars for a simple legal and logistical reason

Amid all the patriotic cheers for Team USA Olympians in Rio, some have questioned the patriotic accuracy of the logo for the U.S. Olympic Team. Specifically, many people are wondering why the logo only has 13 stars.

The comments in social media circles have ranged from simple curious ity to snark (e.g. “Hey Team USA, it has been a while since we had just 13 states!”)

Well, it turns out there is a simple logistical, and legal, reason for the logo.

When designing the logo back in 2010, it was determined that in many uses of the logo (clothes, caps, merchandise, etc.), the flag would be so small that it would be impossible to make it look good with 50 stars, that aesthetically, it would look like a mess.

“We use the 13-star, which is an official American flag, on our logo because of sizing,” Lisa Baird, the USOC’s chief marketing officer recently told the Chicago Tribune.

Many people have also been wondering, if Team USA is going to use a 13-star flag, why not use the Betsy Ross flag with the stars in a circle?

There is a simple reason for that also — the flag shown in the Team USA logo is still a legal flag of the United States of America.

While not as famous as the Betsy Ross flag, the flag with the stars in the 3-2-3-2-3 pattern was actually the first official flag of the U.S. beginning in 1777, according to It was used until 1795 when two stars were added for Vermont and Kentucky.

But what is important to note is that even as stars are added to the flag, older versions remain official U.S. flags and can still be used in accordance with the U.S. flag code. Kevin Keim, co-author of “A Grand Old Flag: A History of the United States Through its Flags,” explained to the Chicago Tribune.

“One can fly a 13-star flag and it still deserves the same respect that people would give to the American flag with 50 stars,” Keim said.

So there it is. Team USA is using a legal U.S. flag, one that is simply easier to use in small form than one with 50 stars.

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