Here's hoping you enjoy the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City in February, because if you're a U.S. taxpayer you're footing much of the bill. That's one significant finding in our investigative report by Don Barlett and Jim Steele on the financing of the 2002 Games (page 78). Snow Job is the first piece that the two-time Pulitzer Prize winners—for Philadelphia Inquirer stories on the IRS's auditing practices, in 1975, and on special tax breaks granted by Congress, in '89—have written for SI since joining Time Inc. four years ago. When SI assistant managing editor Craig Neff learned last year that Barlett and Steele were interested in digging into a sports story, he suggested they visit Salt Lake City, where they struck the journalistic equivalent of Olympic gold. "Imagine having Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling show up and ask if they could pitch for your team," Neff says. "They're masters at ferreting out documents and details—the most meticulous, tireless reporters you'll ever find."
What they found was, in effect, a taxpayer ripoff. In the name of the Games the U.S. government awarded Utah some $1.5 billion, much of that for projects it had little reason to fund. That federal money, not coincidentally, also boosted the fortunes of some of the country's richest businessmen, many of whom were chummy with members of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee.
In addition to our investigation into the Games, we have another special: our third network TV show in as many years. Sports Illustrated's Night of Champions will be hosted by Bob Costas and broadcast by NBC at 8 p.m. (EST/PST) on Dec. 15. As befits the show's location in Hollywood, some of the brighter stars in the entertainment world, including Rob Lowe and Matthew Perry, are scheduled to make presentations. Yolanda Adams, Alan Jackson and Five For Fighting will perform, while Saturday Night Live's Darrell Hammond will take a less-than-reverent look back at the year in sports. Special honorees will include a three-time NBA MVP, Magic Johnson, and a seven-time Winston Cup champion, the late Dale Earnhardt. Of course we'll also announce the SPORTS ILLUSTRATED 2001 Sportsman of the Year, as well as honor SPORTS ILLUSTRATED WOMEN'S Sportswoman of the Year.
As the holidays approach, there's one more SI project of interest—especially to the eye. SI creative director Steven Hoffman and swimsuit editor Diane Smith led a six-month expedition through our photo archives to produce the definitive retrospective of our 37-year-old institution, the swimsuit issue. Knockouts: Five Decades of Swimsuit Photography lavishly displays shots of 67 models from 28 photographers on 276 oversized pages. At least one picture taken for each swimsuit issue is represented, and nearly half of the photos have never before been published. There's also a foreword by Frank Deford and behind-the-scenes shots of and quotes from the models. Knockouts is available at bookstores and by calling 800-457-4066. The price is $50.