“I paid for Tinder Plus so I can swipe in the Olympic Village and date an Olympian,” Kavner wrote in his TikTok video that detailed how he used the app to connect with the athletes.
By purchasing a subscription for Tinder Plus or Tinder Gold, users can access Tinder Passport, a feature within the app that would allow them to swipe through profiles of users located in other parts of the world. This can be done by typing in the name of a city, or by dropping a pin in a specific location.
In Kavner’s case, he dropped a pin in the middle of the Olympic Village, located in Tokyo’s Harumi waterfront district.
“I’ve always really enjoyed finding unusual and unexpected ways to use technology,” Kavner said. “This was just one of those things where I kind of thought: ‘Oh hey, this is probably not how this Tinder feature was intended to be used, but we know that we have this concentration of people in this one area. Let’s see what happens if we drop the pin there.'”
Kavner’s TikTok quickly went viral, receiving millions of views and nearly one million likes. And as TikTok users watched him scroll through profiles allegedly belonging to various Olympic athletes, including Estonian biathlete Grete Gaim and Canadian swimmer Katerine Savard, who commented with five emojis of a woman raising her hand in the air on the viral video.
Thousands of other TikTok users applauded Kavner’s resourcefulness in the comments section, where people described him as a “genius” and even shared their own successes in getting matches.
Tinder’s official TikTok page also commented on Kavner’s post, telling him “you’re not in the [O]lympics, but you’re winning the game.” The comment received nearly 60 thousand likes.
While Kavner’s plan initially worked in his favor, it soon backfired after several TikTok users watched Kavner’s video and followed suit.
“What did genuinely surprise me is that so many people went and tried it out themselves, and I immediately saw the effects of that as I was swiping on the app. And, I saw more and more people who were neither Olympians nor Tokyo locals,” Kavner told CNN.
“I’ve seen plenty of people who have in their bios ‘I’m here because of TikTok’ or ‘I’m here because TikTok sent me,” he further explained.
Kavner’s first recollection of using Tinder Passport to swipe in an Olympic Village dates back to 2018 during the PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games. However, it wasn’t until 2021 that he decided to formally document his hack.