In honor of the beginning of the crew season, and just because we all miss the Summer Olympics, FM sat down with Cameron S. H. Winklevoss ’04 to discuss his summer in Beijing, his undergrad experience at Harvard, and his status as Facebook’s enemy number one.
1. Fifteen Minutes (FM): You and your twin brother, Tyler O. H. Winklevoss ’04, rowed at the Beijing Olympics this summer. What was it like to compete?
Cameron S. H. Winklevoss (CW): It was an amazing experience. Rowing in college, you always have in the back of your mind what it would be like to row in the Olympics. We set out from college to try and achieve that, so to have that happen was a pretty amazing experience.
2. FM: In Beijing, your schedules must have been packed with official events. Did you get a chance to explore city?
CW: We went to the surrounding sights, like the Forbidden City and the Great Wall, which were amazing. But of course the Olympics had taken over the city, so our experience was very Games-oriented. I’d be curious to see what Beijing is like post-Olympics.
3. FM: At 6’5”, did you and your brother attract a lot of attention on the streets of Beijing?
CW: Yeah, being twins who are 6-foot-5, we sort of stuck out like sore thumbs. When we were leaving the athlete’s village, you’d see packs of people who’d want autographs or pictures taken.
4. FM: As a recent Harvard alum, I’m sure you spent more than your fair share of time at the Harvard Square establishment, The Kong. How did the food in Beijing compare?
CW: Oh, yeah, The Kong. “American” Chinese is different than “Chinese” Chinese food. I mean, there’s talk about dog being on the menu. I never saw any of that, but there’s a lot of options, for sure.
5. FM: China came under heavy scrutiny for their air pollution before the Games. What did you think about the air quality?
CW: I actually didn’t notice a great deal of pollution when I was there. I’m not sure if that’s a result of the measures that they took, but it seemed to be perfectly fine. I was a little concerned going over, because I do get seasonal allergies and I had no idea what to expect. To be honest, if there wasn’t so much media talk about it, I probably wouldn’t have noticed it at all.
6. FM: There was talk of boycotting the Games because of China’s human rights record. Did you have any qualms about competing?
CW: I think politics really shouldn’t have too much of a place in [the Olympics]. It’s where we put our differences aside and compete in a fashion of sport. I try and stay away from that stuff as an athlete and focus on the task at hand, because it’s overwhelming to deal with more than your preparation. That being said, if there were people that boycotted, and they felt strongly about that, I’m sure that’s their thing.
7. FM: You and Tyler once rowed a race in button-down shirts and ties. Very stylish. Who is your favorite fashion icon?
CW: That was the Head of the Charles. People generally find uniforms or a wacky T-shirts, and we decided that it’d be funny to have a shirt and tie on. It actually turned out being very hot that day, so it probably wasn’t the smartest decision. But my favorite fashion icon—I would say that David Beckham always looks sharp. He’s always put together.
8. FM: You and Tyler are identical, mirror-image twins, so you’re left-handed and he’s a rightie. What do you think about the right brain/left brain theory?
CW: We have a lot of the same interests on paper, but if you talk to our friends or family, they’ll tell you that we have very distinct personalities. What begets what, I don’t know. I tend to be a little bit more artistic and creative. We take different approaches to a lot of things and have different views that are probably reflected in our handedness.
9. FM: Can you guys do any weird freaky twin things?
CW: Weird freaky twin things, let me think. Because we spend so much time together, we’re very much on the same wavelength. We finish each other’s sentences all the time. Sometimes we can complete a conversation as seamlessly as if you’re talking to one person. But there’s two of us.
10. FM: Did you get to meet Michael Phelps?
CW: No, I didn’t meet Michael Phelps. The swimmers were competing the same week we were, and I think a lot of them took off after competition.
11. FM: So you have no insights as to how I could meet Michael Phelps?
CW: Gee, I don’t know. If you hang around the pool long enough, you’re probably going to meet him. I’m sure he’s pretty busy with various obligations, but if he does go for the next Olympics, he’s going to have to be in the pool, so he won’t be too hard to find.
12. FM: If a genie offered you three wishes, what would you wish for? Besides getting to meet Michael Phelps.
CW: Well, wish number one would be to have an unlimited amount of wishes, right? Isn’t that the first wish? And…wish number two would be happiness. And number three would be world peace. Infinite world peace. And infinite happiness, I guess.
13. FM: You and Tyler are also known for your legal battle with Mark E. Zuckerberg, formerly of the Class of 2006, over the origins of Facebook. Are you still fighting the good fight?
CW: I’m going to get in trouble if I comment on that. The only thing I can say is that there’s litigation that’s ongoing.
14. FM: Are you planning any new forays onto the interweb?
CW: At this point, we’ve been trying to relax, decompress, and take stock of the situation. With respect to any other projects, just keeping my eyes and ears open to see what might come along. Sometimes these things just fall into your lap.
15. FM: You were a member of the PC when you were at Harvard. Do you ever come back to party with the guys still in the club?
CW: That’s happened on occasion. For sure.