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February 2, 2017

Meet the kid who got a Matt Centrowitz tattoo after losing a bet

By and large, sports fans may have some of the shortsighted tattoos.There’s a Tim Tebow tattoo out there. The are countless premature championship declarations. Someone has an entire Colombian soccer team jersey on their skin as a tribute to Andres Escobar.

Cam Sorter, a 20-year-old junior at York College in Nebraska, boasts a similarly questionable tattoo but he’s happy about the ink on his back.

On July 22, 2016, Sorter tweeted “@MattCentrowitz if you medal in rio I’ll get a tattoo of your face.”  To many it went unnoticed. A month later, it resurfaced after Matthew Centrowitz won the men’s 1,500 meters at the Rio Olympics and ended a 108-year gold medal drought for the United States.

Sorter watched with his teammates as Centrowitz led the final from the gun and held on for the victory with a 50-second final lap. The York cross country team, including Sorter, were among the many celebrating the win. That same night a random Twitter user came across the tweet and gave it a bump to bring it to the attention of the newly-minted gold medalist. Centrowitz quote-tweeted it with “oh hello Cam.”

A bet was a bet. Centrowitz followed Sorter and offered him an escape from his original tweet but Sorter remained a man of his word. And in the spirit of the bet’s origins, they set up a Twitter poll with select photos, and let the internet decide which one would be forever imprinted on his skin.

Sorter went back home to Seaside, Oregon for winter break and scheduled an appointment with a local tattoo artist in Portland. Four and a half hours and $500 later, Sorter walked out with a black and white image captured by Ezra Shaw of Getty Images on his left shoulder blade.

“The tattoo artist charged $120 per hour,” Shaw says. “He gave me a flat rate of $500 because I told him that’s all I had at the time.”

Centrowitz was unable to accompany Sorter to get the tattoo due to icy roads in Oregon but later met up with his fan for a run along the Portland waterfront. The day also including a gym session, some sneaker shopping and then a FaceTime session with Centrowitz’s former teammate Parker Stinson, who is one of Sorter’s favorite elite runners.

“It was unreal,” Sorter says. “As I was running and hanging out with him, it didn’t really hit me that he’s the gold medalist and one of the world’s fastest milers. He was just a  really cool guy and I never felt intimidated.”

There were few Twitter trolls that criticized the tattoo but it was primarily received well. Sorter’s teammates liked the tattoo and other students on York’s small campus, which has an average fall semester enrollment of about 450 undergraduates, have asked to see it. (This requires Sorter to remove his shirt at awkward times.)

“Coming off the tattoo, I’ve run three races. I’ve won two of them and PR’ed in the 800,” Sorter says. “My indoor time is now faster than my outdoor time, which makes no sense. Even with that, no girls will talk to me and that’s kind of a bummer. I was actually hoping but no ladies sadly even with winning.”

Now maybe if Centrowitz makes a bet about the ladies, Sorter can find his own luck.

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