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Tommy Olson III and Tom Olson Jr.

Tommy Olson III (left) was crowned homecoming king in 2015. His father, Tom Olson Jr., won the honor in 1987.

Royalty runs in the Olson family.

When Tom Olson Jr. and Tommy Olson III get together Saturday to tailgate before Nebraska's homecoming football game against Purdue, they almost certainly will talk about that day in 1987, when Tom was named UNL homecoming king at halftime of a 56-3 win against Kansas State. Or that day in 2015, when Tommy received the same honor during a 36-28 win against Southern Miss.

"I remember I didn't think I'd win, and I didn't even consider throwing my hat into the ring," says Tommy, a Julesburg, Colorado, native who now lives in Omaha. "A senior convinced me to apply, so I submitted my (application) and interviewed."

Tommy said the experience of being on the field at Memorial Stadium and hanging out with everyone else on the homecoming court was exciting. And when his name was announced, everything happened very quickly.

He said receiving the honor was a special way to represent the school.

"I don't try to advertise that I was homecoming king," Tommy said. "It means so much to me, though, because I like to represent Nebraska well."

Tom said the feeling of winning in 1987 has stuck with him.

"(Homecoming king) is not something you run for," Tom said. "You don't do it for the honor of being homecoming king, you do it to represent the university. I'm usually game-on for that."

Tom, like his son, said he never believed he'd win.

"I never thought it would happen," Tom said. "You go in knowing that it is out of your control, and you're surrounded by people you know, and they're all active in the university, so when your name gets called, it is quite the surprise."

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Going by the nickname "Lisco" at the time, Tom recalled hearing students chanting his nickname before the king and queen were announced.

Tom said he was proud of his son before he won, but to share the title of homecoming king with him is special.

"For him to win was fun, because that is something you can share," Tom said. "I don't know what the odds of us both winning are, but I would have been proud of him either way."

Tommy said sharing the title with his father was easily the best part of the experience.

"I've always looked up to my dad," he said. "Kids say that about their parents, but he was one of the most consistent role models I had in my life. I try to emulate him every day, and sharing that title felt right. It felt natural."

Tommy said he didn't even know that his dad was once homecoming king until his senior year of high school.

"It just came up in normal conversation with a family member," Tommy said. "Going through college, I tried to stay involved and be active on campus, so having my dad there on the sidelines when I won made it 10 times more special."

Kim Olson, Tom's wife and Tommy's step-mother, said sharing the honor has brought the already close pair even closer.

"They have always been a very close family, but this added to their already tight bond," she said. "I could see the tears in Tom's eyes when Tommy won."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7223 or ckeene@journalstar.com.

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Newsroom intern

2018 fall semester intern at the Journal Star.

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