At $51 billion, the Sochi Winter Olympics are the costliest ever, surpassing the $40 billion spent by China on the 2008 Summer Olympics. Journalist Joshua Yaffa travels to Sochi and explains that how the games grew so expensive is a tale of Putin-era Russia in microcosm: a story of ambition, hubris, and greed leading to fabulous extravagance on the shores of the Black Sea. Putin’s vow to spare no expense provided cover for sloppiness and mistakes. in construction, and the government’s willingness to overspend encouraged organizers to indulge their grandest, most over the-top visions.