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Originally published February 19, 2014 at 2:50 PM | Page modified February 19, 2014 at 2:51 PM

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Loud Team USA sweaters quietly made a pile of cash

The California family-run company that made the patriotic patchwork sweaters worn by US athletes at the Sochi Olympics is not apologizing for the debated-about knitwear — they sold out of the cardigans to the tune of $598 each.

McClatchy News Service

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SANTA ANA, Calif. — It was almost as if someone declared, “Let the bashing begin.”

Just as Team USA’s Winter Olympic cardigans made their public debut, pitchforks were raised. Twitter went off first, with references to ugly Christmas sweaters, Grandma’s handiwork and Bill Cosby.

“U.S. Olympic Outfits Worthy of Stares, if Not Medals,” read one headline in The New York Times.

But look who’s grinning now. Eddy and Elizabeth Park own Ball of Cotton knitting factory in Commerce, Calif. They couldn’t be prouder of the product they and about 50 employees painstakingly assembled for the opening ceremony.

“I saw the reviews on the Internet and I was surprised,” said Elizabeth Park, 56. “But anyway, that night, everything was sold out.” The sweaters sold for $598 each.

The Parks and their workers labored an average of 12 hours over each of the cardigans made for the 650 American athletes.

Polo Ralph Lauren, the official outfitter for Team USA, caught flak in 2012 when it was revealed that the outfits worn by American athletes for the Summer Olympics in London had been made in China. So, this time around, American vendors got the job.

The red, white and blue sweaters featured a patchwork design of stars and stripes. And an American flag. And Olympic rings. And the letters “USA,” the numbers “2014,” plus Ralph Lauren’s “Polo” logo.

The wool came from a family-owned sheep farm in Oregon, the yarn was spun at a textile company in Pennsylvania and dyed at a factory in North Carolina before making its way to Ball of Cotton.

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