Leslie Jones defies trolls, tweets her way to Olympic invite

After a barrage of hateful, racist, and misogynistic tweets nearly drove Leslie Jones off Twitter for good, the comedian has returned with a series of live tweets hailed as the best Olympic commentary for non-sports fans.

To reach the Olympics, some athletes have logged tens of thousands of hours on the track or in the pool. Others have fought through the pain of broken bones and torn muscles to qualify. Comedian Leslie Jones’s approach was different. She tweeted her way to an invitation.

The “Saturday Night Live” and “Ghostbusters” star was invited to join NBC in Rio by Jim Bell, the executive producer of the network’s Olympics coverage, after Ms. Jones’s riotous commentary of the first two days of the Games earned her a fan following. Jones has not announced if she will accept the offer.

The invite is a Cinderella story for a celebrity who has been vocal about her love/hate relationship with Twitter. Last month, Jones, who is black, was the victim of barrage of racist and misogynistic tweets that left her considering signing off for good. Her Twitter comeback has shown the platform isn’t just a venue for activism, but also patriotic entertainment.

The show started Saturday, when Jones posted a video to Twitter of herself wearing a star-spangled outfit, with a flag draped over her shoulders, and one hand full of medals.

Jones covered nearly every event over the weekend.

She celebrated Virginia Thrasher’s win Saturday, the United States’ first gold medal of the Games.

And she ended her coverage Sunday night with a picture of American swimmer and gold medalist Ryan Held in tears, after the US relay team he was a part of won the 4x100-meter freestyle.

Jones amassed a following of fans over the weekend who relished her enthusiasm and her commitment to consistent coverage. One such fan was Michael Shoemaker, producer of NBC’s “Late Night with Seth Meyers” and “The Awesomes.” Mr. Shoemaker, who was previously a part of "Saturday Night Live," urged Mr. Bell of NBC to bring Jones to Rio.

Bell playfully accepted.

This fired up Jones even more. 

Jones’s jovial tone contrasts with her plea to Twitter last month to stop the hateful messages she received. Months of criticism about an all-female cast of "Ghostbusters" from fans of the franchise and online trolls gave way to the nasty tweets about Jones over the course of a day. She even indicated she was considering deactivating her account following the hours of abuse she suffered. Twitter eventually responded to Jones's call to ban the trolls by opening up applications for its blue verified badge that confirms users really are who they say they are.

Scores of Twitter fans also came to Jones’s defense, with the hashtag #LoveforLeslieJ. That was enough to draw the comedian back in.

Now, she must decide if she should head to Rio. 

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.