Bruno Banani: Fact or Fiction

German newspaper Der Spiegel broke a story last week that has athletes, marketing professionals, and underwear experts the world over scratching their luge helmets.

Bruno Banani, who bears the same name as the German underwear company Bruno Banani, seemed to be the star of a real-life fairy tale. In a plot that could have only been the product of Hollywood movie executives, perhaps the producers of the long awaited Cool Runnings 2, Bruno Banani, the son of a coconut farmer, was to be the first Tongan to enter the Winter Olympics. Tonga (otherwise known as the Kingdom of Tonga) is a state and an archipelago (a cluster of islands) in the South Pacific Ocean, in case you didn’t know.

At age 19, Bruno Banani was, apparently, inspired to attempt the luge in 2009 to please Her Royal Highness Princess Pilolevu Tupou. Though he was a novice, he quickly excelled; he set his sights on the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi with the help of German luge coaches, and was sponsored by the underwear company bearing his name.

All of this, however, was for naught. The fairytale quickly unraveled (as did the Kingdom of Tonga’s excitement) when Der Spiegel reported that Bruno Banani is not the athlete’s name (it’s Fuahea Semi), his father is not a coconut farmer, and the entire story was a fabrication, reportedly, of a marketing firm. He was hand picked for this fairy-tale at an audition, reports Spiegel.

In a perilous turn of events, it turns out nothing is at it seems in this story of luge and loss.  Although Banani (the underwear company) denies any involvement, and Banani (the luger) insists he bears the name on his birth certificate, things still seem askew.

Bruno Banani (the underwear company) launched in 1993; the brand “has put its underwear to the test in the toughest environments in the world” by having astronauts, mountain climbers, and crash test dummies don it’s “dead good undies.”

Sponsoring a Tongan luge hero fits right in to the brand’s marketing message, making it difficult to believe this is all just a coincidence.

It’s yet to be determined whether or not Fuahea Semi will appear in the Olympics, and we’ve yet to hear whether or not Bruno Banani (the underwear company) is still sponsoring Bruno Banani (the Tongan luge star.)

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