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 2,000 feet underground, the men posed in hospital bathrobes for a group photo with President Sebastian Pinera.
Unity helped the men, known as “los 33,” survive for 69 days underground, including more than two weeks when no one knew whether they were alive.
But the moment they walk out the hospital doors, they’ll go beyond the reach of a government operation that has cared for, fed and protected them in a carefully coordinated campaign to ensure each of them would leave in top condition.
“Now they’re going to have to find their equilibrium and take care of themselves,” the hospital chaplain, Luis Lopez, told The Associated Press.
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 collapsed rock, the New York City marathon invited him to participate in next month’s race.
What about a reality show? Some other kind of TV work? Why not, said television writer-producer and Oscar nominee Lionel Chetwynd, who said he expected projects were being pitched around Hollywood within hours of the rescue.
“Television is a quick-response medium,” he said, joking: “In fact, I think I’ll call my agent when we get off the phone.”
Three of the men were discharged from the hospital Thursday evening and others were expected to follow today and over the weekend.