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Olympic Pin Trading at Rio! 20 Years of Memories of 1996 Atlanta Olympics Pin Trading Gives Way to Rio

Updated on January 24, 2018
Cyndi10 profile image

Cynthia researches and writes about a variety of topics including travel, family, business, gardening, beauty, and health & wellness.

Collecting pins during Olympics1996
Collecting pins during Olympics1996 | Source
This writer wore the spoils of 1996 Olympic pin trading on her Olympic hat.
This writer wore the spoils of 1996 Olympic pin trading on her Olympic hat. | Source

What's Happened to Pin Trading Since the Atlanta Olympics 1996 - 20th Anniversary

With each Olympics, there is a resurgence of interest in Olympic pin trading. The London 2012 Olympic Games naturally sparked interest among Atlanta Olympic 1996 pin trading enthusiasts, who are now celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Games. Interest in pin trading was strong for the Sochi Games and the London Games and it is sure to be just as strong at the Rio Summer Games Olympics, full twenty years since the Atlanta Olympic 1996 Games.

Just as the athletes limber up and prepare for their event, so do the pin traders start their preparations for trading. In some ways, especially for those who are unable to attend the Rio Olympic games, it is a vicarious way to experience the adrenaline rush that may be similar to what the athletes experience when they are about to compete. The difference is that pin traders are excited when they get their hands on a rare pin or when they finally find one to finish out their special collection of, say, Izzys, the Atlanta Games mascot. That is their finish line.

Until the Atlanta Olympics 1996 and the excitement of pin trading at that event, it never occurred to me that any such activities were taking place at the games - anywhere or at anytime. I guess I must have been sheltered, but I found there are pin traders all over the world who have traded at many of the Olympic Games. Hubpages writer, Peggy W., wrote about her pin trading experiences at the Barcelona games in her article Our Olympic Pin Trading Collection ~ 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.

It is an infectious and addictive activity. During the London Games, one Olympic pin trader living in Los Angeles had 70,000 pins he is prepared to put up for trading. He uses them as collatoral as he searches for pins to add to his 10,000 pin personal collection. I suppose he would be considered rich in pins and I imagine he may have formed his interest when the games were in Los Angeles. One can only speculate.

Another pin trader, or pin head as they are sometimes called, lives in Metro Atlanta and, as of this writing, has over 1700 pins in her collection.

Hat, shoes and pins from Olympics 1996 - Atlanta
Hat, shoes and pins from Olympics 1996 - Atlanta | Source

Olympic 1996 Pin Trading: Source of Memories

As the Olympic Games begin in Brazil, let's hear it for the pin traders and pin collectors that are also gearing up. Interest in pin trading always peaks during and immediately after the Games.

Of course, most of the trading and selling will take place in Brazil, but a great deal of activity will also pop up in Atlanta, even though it has been twenty years since the Olympics 1996. In fact, the excitement of the trading will continue even after the games with pin trading events like the Olympins Trading Fair found at http://olympinshow.org/, that was held in Altanta in September, 2012. This will be the chance for anyone who collected while at previous games to add their prizes to their collections and proudly show them off.


As Southerners, we hold onto memories and if you're an Atlantan old enough to remember, you probably remember where you were when the announcement came that Atlanta had been awarded the Olympic 1996 games. You could hear the city give a collective whoop and a parade down Peachtree Street began.

Trading pins, finally finding that elusive pin you've been trying to acquire, is the closest we will come to the excitement of having the games in Atlanta again. It's one way we can relive those "glory days" of nonstop games and activity. The city was overrun with sports enthusiasts from all around the world. Nearly everyone had pins to trade and we were actively collecting them.


Centennial Olympic Park was the site of much of the serious trading activity. You could go to the Park make a few new friends, find the brick you bought for posterity and trade, trade trade.

The Park is still a popular site in Atlanta. The Olympic Ring Fountain is still there and an eternal flame burns in Centennial Park in memory Alice Hawthorne who was the victim of a pipe bomb at the site July 27, 1996.

Trading at the Rio Olympic Games

The traders will surely gather outside the Rio Olympic Gates or maybe some other vantage point. It's hard to know where traders will decide to carry on the most business, but regardless of where it is, serious trading will be taking place, usually starting before the games officially began. Even marginal traders like me can become hooked by the sheer excitement of scoring a long searched for trade. Coca Cola pins are my favorite.


At the opening of the Rio Summer Games in August 2016, active Olympic pin traders will gather at Atlanta's Olympic Centennial Park to begin active trading again. It will be twenty-four years since the Olympic Games came to Atlanta. Pin traders will watch the children play in the fountains and reminisce about the festivities and the triumphs of hosting the Olympic 1996 Games in Atlanta while they indulge in some serious Olympic pin trading during the Rio Olympic games.

No matter the year, pin trading hits fever pitch during the games. Rio 2016 was no different. Next? Korea.

Tell the truth, are you a pin trader (a pin head)?

See results

© 2012 Cynthia B Turner

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    • Cyndi10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia B Turner 

      7 months ago from Georgia

      Hello Joanie, I can imagine that the pin trading was pretty heavy at this year's winter olympics although I did not follow as closely as past Olympics. I look forward to LA as well.

      Take care.

    • JoanieMRuppel54 profile image

      Joanie Ruppel 

      7 months ago from Keller, Texas

      Voted in your poll and I have more than a few, although I never counted them but maybe now I will. I started collecting at LA '84 and look forward to returning to LA in 2028.

    • Cyndi10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia B Turner 

      3 years ago from Georgia

      Hi Peggy, Pin trading is fun. I know things will pick up again the closer we get to the next Games. Thanks so much for leaving a comment and sharing. Take care!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      3 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Thanks for the mention of the pin trading we got to experience during the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. That was an eye opener for me as well and became a fun part of the activities. All of our pins are now in a bag in the bottom of a dresser drawer. Up votes and will share.

    • Cyndi10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia B Turner 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      Hey Hilary, yes, I am in Atlanta! How neat to see you are, too.

      The Olympics were so much fun, weren't they? I envy London. Dig those pins up. There are actually activities around for trading. Traders met at the Varsity a few days ago. My "collection" is nothing compared to some of those I've read about. There is some serious trading going on out there!

    • Green Lotus profile image

      Hillary 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      I never realized you were a fellow Atlantan Cyndi! I've been here for years and have great memories of the games but unfortunately I never began collecting pins. I must have at least one or two stashed away somewhere :) Thanks for the reminder. Cheers!

    • Cyndi10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia B Turner 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      Hi again Nell, UhOh! I am laughing! Pins can hook you, it seems. After I read about some of the collections, I felt that I should try to catch up. Anyway, I'm impressed that your friend collects WWII pins. I didn't know there was such a thing. Interesting...

      Give me an update if your friend starts to collect Olympic pins. Take care. Cyndi

    • Cyndi10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia B Turner 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      Yep, he's somewhere around your way. There seem to be others with impressive collections, too. They are usually traded, but when they are for sale, the prices vary and usually more than $1. So glad you took the time to read this.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      6 years ago from England

      I forgot to mention that my friend collects world war two pins, she has loads of sergeants badges etc, I showed this to her today! lol! I think I have unleashed a monster! haha! she had that look in her eye!

    • Rsharde profile image

      Rsharde 

      6 years ago from Santa Monica

      70000 pins?! Assuming they're a dollar each...which they're not by the way...he spent over 70k for those things!! I guess everyone has to have a hobby...and a lot of disposable income to go with it...

    • Cyndi10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia B Turner 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      Hi Nell, I think the interest grows with each game. I'm not a serious collector, but I do envy traders with those great collections. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      6 years ago from England

      This sounds fascinating, I have a friend who collects all sorts of pins, but not at the olympics, or maybe she does and hasn't told me! lol! really interesting, thanks nell

    • Cyndi10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cynthia B Turner 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      Good Saturday to you Frank. I'm not a trader the same way some others are, but what little I've done has always sparked a little thrill if I traded or stumbled on something interesting. Fun. You might like it. Thanks for the vote and enjoy the weekend!

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      6 years ago from Shelton

      a pin trader? hmm good hub I don't follow the Olympics.. just American sports.. but pin trading what have been a fun thing to do voted interesting

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