By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota will host the 2026 Special Olympics USA Games, the governor announced on Friday.

The announcement was made during a press conference at the University of Minnesota. Minnesota beat out three other states in a year-long bidding process.

“It is my pleasure to announce that Minnesota will be hosting the Special Olympics USA Games in 2026, here in Minnesota,” Gov. Tim Walz said.

WEB EXTRA: Gov. Walz Announces Minnesota Will Host Special Olympics

Touted as the biggest sporting event in the country in 2026, the Special Olympics will take place at the University of Minnesota and other venues across the Twin Cities. Organizers believe it will bring in $70 million to Minnesota thanks to visitors from all 50 states, Canada, and the Caribbean.

The Twin Cities will host about 4,000 Special Olympics athletes and about 10,000 volunteers. Fifteen-hundred coaches and an estimated 75,000 fans are also expected to attend.

“The games being in Minnesota will give us an opportunity to showcase that this is a state where every, single person can thrive in what they do,” said Walz.

“And I’m sure our state will deliver an unmatched, competitive and community spirit for the athletes, coaches, and for all that touch the games,” Special Olympics Minnesota CEO Dave Dorn said.

The Games will be comprised of 15 Olympic team and individual sports as well as five demonstration sports.

“Special Olympics is about so much more than sports. It’s about inclusion,” athlete Jenna Perkins said.

Perkins is a senior at Orono High School. She’s thrilled that her fellow athletes will get a chance to compete on the biggest stage, in their own backyard.

“We are so proud that Minnesota is a part of the inclusion revolution,” Perkins said.

Organizers say activities will begin happening tomorrow throughout the state, to help promote the 2026 Special Olympics games.

John Lauritsen