Richard Jewell always wanted to be recognized. To his lasting regret, he got his wish. At the Summer Olympics, Jewell, 34, a security guard, spotted a pipe bomb just before it went off. Though the blast left one dead and 111 injured, his warning saved lives. Suddenly, Jewell—the big guy who never made the football team, the ex-cop who once faced demotion for crashing a squad car—was a hero.
Then, just as suddenly, he was a suspect. To the authorities, he fit a "lone bomber" psychological profile: a law enforcement wannabe who craves attention. (For one thing, he had once been arrested for impersonating an officer.) But though he had not been charged in the Olympics bombing, someone leaked Jewell's name to the media. Instantly he was back on the front page, this time as a suspicious character. Besieged in the small Atlanta apartment he shares with his mother, every lens in America pointed his way. "Experts" analyzed him in the press. Investigators seized his belongings, his mother's Tupperware and even the lint from his clothes dryer. And they found? Nothing.
In the end a federal prosecutor issued a letter saying Jewell was no longer a target of the investigation. And earlier this month he won a cash settlement from NBC over his claim that anchor Tom Brokaw had implied on-air he was guilty. Still, says his lawyer Wayne Grant, "there will always be people who will believe he did it." Jewell always wanted to be recognized. But fame left him burned beyond recognition.
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