Shani Davis is everywhere you look these days. Ads for Ralph Lauren and McDonald’s. Promos for NBC. The cover of US magazine’s Olympic edition.

After spending most of his illustrious career in anonymity – much of it self-imposed – the speed skater has emerged as one of the Sochi Olympics’ biggest stars. And in what might be an even bigger surprise, he’s enjoying every bit of it.

FIGURE SKATING: Team event ready to debut

“It’s not like I ever didn’t want to be the face of the Olympics. There were other athletes who had a higher profile,” said Davis, the first African-American to win an individual gold at the Winter Olympics.

“I was a goodie in a vending machine behind eight other awesome snacks,” Davis added, using an amusing, but apt, analogy. “Now people are enjoying me for who I am.”

The timing couldn’t be better. After winning the 1,000 meters in both Torino and Vancouver, Davis is poised to become the first U.S. man to win gold medals in the same event in three consecutive Olympics.