By Jae-Ha Kim
Tribune Media Services
May 22, 2012
Sports agent Evan Morgenstein is used to the comparisons to Tom Cruise’s character in “Jerry Maguire.” But he says that Jeremy Pivens’ portrayal of uber-agent Ari Gold in “Entourage” was more true to life, because Gold ticked more people off. “I’m a little bit like them,” says Morgenstein, 46. “But I’m taller and have more clients.” The CEO and president of PMG Sports, which handles the careers of Olympians Dara Torres, gymnast Nastia Liukin and former decathlon champ turned reality TV star Bruce Jenner, will also be covering the Olympic Games in London this summer as an analyst for FOX Sports. Morgenstein lives in North Carolina with his wife and children.
Q. Of all the places you’ve been, which city seemed to have the most athletic population?
A. Barcelona, Spain. Everybody seemed to be young, beautiful and in great shape from being at the beach all day playing volleyball or swimming. You really had to go long and far to find an unfit person.
Q. On the road, are you an adventurous eater?
A. I love Andrew Zimmern and his show, but I’m not as adventurous as he is. I’m not going to eat a grasshopper. But I’ll try just about anything, as long as it’s not alive and moving. I’m fine with eating sweetbreads and eclectic things. Shame on you if you don’t learn from your travels and experience things you wouldn’t have in your own community. I had my first taste of octopus in Athens. It was grilled with a little lemon on it and it was delicious.
Q. When you go away, do you tune out work?
A. Not really. I’ve gone to Turks and Caicos and returned emails while I was in the water. I’ve been in the Caymans getting a massage and I was tweeting. It’s impossible for me to shut down. I’ll be at a dude ranch texting while I’m sitting on a horse. Sometimes I don’t look forward to vacations, because I’ve always had to work while I’ve been away in beautiful places.
Q. Where will you go on your next family vacation?
A. Most likely London in December. I’ll be working during the Olympics, so I won’t bring my family then. But I’ll take them when there’s more time to have fun.
Q. What was the first trip you took as a child?
A. My dad’s from upstate New York. We were taking a road trip there once and I remember hearing a loud noise and not thinking much about it. But when we got there we realized that all our luggage had fallen off. The only thing that made it was one lawn chair that was still stuck (up on the roof of the car). I wore the same clothes for a week. But when you’re a kid, that’s OK. I took my first flight on Eastern Airlines when we went to Florida. Once the plane took off and reached altitude, the flight attendants pulled the curtain and allowed everyone up there to smoke.
Q. Which Olympics has been the most memorable for you?
A. Watching Mark Spitz and seeing what a Jewish athlete could do at the Munich Olympics was thrilling. But it was also very scary as a Jewish kid to see that Jewish athletes were being killed (at the Munich massacre). I remember thinking that if they could kill Jews in a place as secure as the Olympics, they could get us anywhere. As for the favorite that I’ve been to, I’d say the 2008 Games in Beijing. I had so many great clients and friends there and it was great to share that experience with them.
Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?
A. I’d like to go to Nova Scotia, Canada. I’ve never been to the Galapagos islands either.
Q. What’s the best way to explore a country?
A. I love to run. It’s the best way to see any country. Run as far as you can and just take in all the sights without a guide telling you what you should or shouldn’t see.
Q. Have you had any frightening experiences overseas?
A. I was really scared during one trip. Mark Spitz and I had the opportunity to go to Qatar. We flew Qatar Air, which is the most opulent airline. It was insane how well they treated their passengers. We land and see flashing police cars everywhere out the window. I’m thinking that this is like “Raid on Entebbe.” They pull the plane off the tarmac, stop the plane and some men come on the plane and tell Mark and me to get our stuff and we’re freaking out. We get to their holding area and are told, “The emir didn’t want you to have to worry about going through customs.” We got walked through with military security, put into a Mercedes van and driven to a five-star hotel. It turned out great, but it was frightening when we didn’t know what was going on.
Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?
A. I have been told that I pack like Octomom. I so overpack because I never know what I’m supposed to wear, so I’m packing formal, informal, workout clothes and everything else into a giant bag. Everyone gets annoyed when they have to meet me at the airport ‘cause they have to go to baggage claim with me and wait forever for me to get all my luggage.
© 2012 JAE-HA KIM
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