COPIAPO, Chile – The Chilean miners began their unfamiliar new lives as national heroes Thursday and got a taste of what awaits them outside the hospital doors – a swarm of reporters, TV producers, publicity agents and even soccer teams all desperate for a piece of their story.
A day after their epic rescue, still wearing the oddly fashionable sunglasses that protected them from the bright light when they were hoisted from more than 2,000 feet underground, the men posed in hospital bathrobes for a photo with President Sebastian Pinera.
Unity helped the men, known as “los 33,” survive for 69 days underground.
They got quite the preview Thursday of what lies ahead. On their first full day of fresh air, the miners were probably the 33 most in-demand people on the planet.
A Greek mining company wants to bring them to the sunny Aegean islands, competing with rainy Chiloe in the country’s southern archipelago, whose tourism bureau wants them to stay for a week.
Soccer teams in Madrid, Manchester and Buenos Aires want them in their stadiums. Bolivia’s president wants them at his palace. TV host Don Francisco wants them all on his popular “Sabado Gigante” show in Miami.
Hearing that miner Edison Pena jogged regularly in the tunnels below the collapse, the New York City marathon invited him to participate in next month’s race.
The rescue team even asked Guinness World Records to honor all 33 with the record for longest time trapped underground, rather than only the last miner out. Guinness spokeswoman Jamie Panas said the organization was studying the question.