Monica Puig is the perfect example of why our human brains love underdogs.

Few people probably expected Monica Puig to get the Olympic gold.

Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images.

Puig represented Puerto Rico in women's tennis at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Before Rio, Puerto Rico hadn't won a gold medal in, well, any Olympic sport in more than 60 years. Puig was an unlikely bet to get one this year too. In the ranks of the top tennis champs in the world, Puig wasn't even in the top 20. Going into the Olympics, she was ranked 37th.


Ahead of her? A number of seriously intimidating opponents, including Garbine Muguruza, who won the 2016 French Open just a few months earlier.

Puig was, in short, the classic underdog.

Puig had to defeat Germany's Angelique Kerber  in order to win gold. Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images.

Nevertheless, she entered the court and held her own. And she didn't just hold her own. She won, and kept on winning. Eventually, she ended up matched against Germany's Angelique Kerber — the tennis champ ranked second best in the world.

It'd be hard to look at that lineup and not feel a little spark of support for Puig starting to flare in your heart. The first game swung in Puig's favor, 6-4. In the second, Kerber came back 4-6.

It was down to the last game. The final game. Thousands of Puerto Ricans gathered together to watch. Even Catholic Masses were delayed as the entire island rooted for their underdog champion.

And what happened? Puig took it 6-1 and, with it, Puerto Rico's first gold medal.

Rooting for the underdogs is something humans love to do.

Maybe there's an alien species out there somewhere who hates "The Karate Kid." But if that's the case, they can stay on their own planet ... because here on Earth, we root for the little guy. It's what we do.

A lot of studies have confirmed this too. In their incredibly comprehensive 2007 paper, three researchers from the University of South Florida, led by professor Joseph Vandello, found that we truly do love underdogs, whether that's in sports, politics, or other areas.

Why? Maybe it's because we feel like underdogs have more heart.

Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images.

Vandello and his colleagues found that when people sat down to watch a competition between a favored-winner and an underdog, they felt like the underdog tried harder.

Watching Puig go up against the odds-on favorite, we can't help but attribute some sort of Disney-esque, Oh-Captain-My-Captain pluck to her. And we can't help but like the person who tries harder and fights for what she thinks she deserves.

Plus, there's the fact that we just fundamentally want to live in a fair world.

Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images.

We want the person we think is trying harder to win. If they don't, it feels unfair, and human beings naturally just hate it when the world isn't fair. Heck, even monkeys hate it when the world isn't fair.

So what do we do? We root for the underdog. Vandello suggests we might do this because it subconsciously feels like our support could level the odds, but it might also simply be our desire for an affirmation that the world really is fair, just, and true.

And then there's the emotional payoff.

Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images.

We get more bang for our emotional buck by rooting for the underdog. After all, if we root for the favorite and they win, well, we kind of expected that, didn't we? Even if they had a huge chance of winning, Cobra Kai winning the tournament would have felt kind of ... boring, wouldn't it? (Also, what are you doing rooting for Cobra Kai?!)

On the other hand, it's a huge deal when the underdog wins. It's surprising! It's amazing! There'll be books about it! Public radio hosts will argue about how it happened! And in the middle of all that will be us — the true, die-hard fans, basking in the feeling of "I always knew they could do it."

And if we compare the two, it turns out that the emotional high of the underdog outweighs the higher odds of the top dogs. So, from an emotional perspective, investing in the underdog is just smart betting. And if they lose, well, it was a long shot anyway, so we can console ourselves with that.

Whatever the case, there's one thing that's undeniable: Seeing Puig claim gold this year was amazing.

Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images.

Her opponents played well and they deserve accolades of their own — after all, you don't get to the Olympics without exceptional training and hard work. But there's still something amazing about seeing the little guy win.

Puig wasn't the only underdog to claim victory this year in Rio. Singapore's Joseph Schooling beat out world favorite Michael Phelps in the 100-meter butterfly. Hoang Xuan Vinh took Vietnam's first ever gold in the air pistol. Kosovo's Majlinda Kelmendi dominated in judo.

Maybe that spark of underdog support is a weird quirk of human nature. Maybe. But my brain can't help but smile when I see Puig up there with that giant gold medal. Because really, truly, I believe she deserves it.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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When we think of what a Tyrannosaurus looked like, we picture a gargantuan dinosaur with a huge mouth, formidable legs and tail, and inexplicably tiny arms. When we picture how it behaved, we might imagine it stomping and roaring onto a peaceful scene, single-handedly wreaking havoc and tearing the limbs off of anything it can find with its steak-knife-like teeth like a giant killing machine.

The image is probably fairly accurate, except for one thing—there's a good chance the T. rex wouldn't have been hunting alone.

New research from a fossil-filled quarry in Utah shows that Tyrannosaurs may have been social creatures who utilized complex group hunting strategies, much like wolves do. The research team who conducted the fossil study and made the discovery include scientists from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Colby College of Maine, and James Cook University in Australia.

The idea of social Tyrannosaurs isn't entirely new—Canadian paleontologist Philip Curie floated the hypothesis 20 years ago upon the discovery of a group of T. rex skeletons who appeared to have died together—but it has been widely debated in the paleontology world. Many scientists have doubted that their relatively small brains would be capable of such complex social behavior, and the idea was ridiculed by some as sensationalized paleontology PR.

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2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.