When you bring home eight gold medals in a single Olympic season, you're pretty much guaranteed a golden ticket to wealth. U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps is already cashing in on his celebrity status with deals worth millions of dollars.Digital Journal TV -- Getting rich off the Olympics is not an easy task. The Summer Games only come around every four years so most athletes' marketability fades quickly when football and hockey seasons start. Unless, of course, you are swimmer Michael Phelps.
Phelps' face is plastered all over the Omega watch store in Beijing, China; he's sponsored by Speedo; he gets a paycheque from Visa; he's a product hawker for Power Bar; he is sponsored by AT&T; and McDonald's delivers more than just a double cheeseburger to him. And the Games aren't even over yet.
Despite the fact Phelps won six golds in Athens, his name eventually subsided from media coverage. This year, Phelps brought home another eight medals, more than anyone in Olympic history. And coming out of the Games this year, Phelps is already a brand; more sponsors could jump into the wake of success trailing Phelps as he gets out of the pool and into the media spotlight.
News sites and blogs are bursting at their virtual seams with Phelps news, and as one blogger for SportingNews.com writes:
...it's not easy when every single thing that is happening at the Games is framed — yes: eclipsed — by Phelps Mania.
But not everyone agrees that Phelps' rise to riches will be easy. An article in the Chicago Tribute says:
Olympians certainly get commercial gigs. Skier Suzy Chaffee was transformed into "Suzy Chapstick" to sell lip balm. Figure skater Dorothy Hamill, like Phelps a media darling, plugged Clairol hair conditioner. But they're usually not star earners. Forbes magazine's "Celebrity 100" list, which is ranked by income, features scores of athletes but has no Olympians outside of those who also play such pro sports as basketball or tennis.
The amount Phelps makes in endorsements has not been revealed, and estimates are all over the map. However, he is widely expected to pull in at least a couple million dollars from his sponsorships. Speedo, alone, is paying Phelps a $1 million prize for beating Mark Spitz's record for gold.
Photo by Pictlux
Beijing Olympics: Winner of eight Olympic gold medals.
Kids across the U.S. are already obsessed with the athlete, and the saying "I want to be like Mike" has reportedly transformed to mean Phelps (it was formerly reserved for basketball great Michael Jordan).
When it comes to the Olympics' impact on a company's stock value, some reports show Michael Phelps is actually helping Warnaco (the company that owns Speedo) earn a bump up in their stock value. The stock has doubled in the last two years, and the value climbed from $45 before the opening ceremonies to above $50 at the swimming finals.
And finally, Michael Phelps has helped boost TV ratings during this year's Games, so the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is already saying it wants broadcasters to fork over more money to get the broadcast rights to future Olympic Games. According to the Daily Herald, this year's Games are attracting 21 per cent more viewers than Athens, and part of that is because of Michael Phelps' popularity.
"We can capitalize on that in the next negotiations with NBC for the new rights," Gerhard Heiberg, chairman of the IOC marketing commission, said in an interview. "This is good for us. Yes, we may reach a higher level."
NBC paid $894 million for the rights to broadcast the Beijing Olympics, and it paid $1.2 billion to get the rights to broadcast the Games in London, England in 2012. IOC President Jacques Rogge said Olympic sponsorship revenue is forecast to increase about 16 per cent to $1 billion for the Vancouver 2010 and London 2012 Games. Rogge also said broadcasting revenue will likely climb a whopping 40 per cent to $3.8 billion for the 2009-12 cycle.
The financial wave following Michael Phelps has already reached a monumental level, and it's only a matter of time before more people jump head first into the swimmer's water. Just take a look at the clip above, and you can see Phelps' extreme star power and marketability. In this Digital Journal TV clip, we see Phelps kicking fiercely through the PR waters, as he puts his name behind McDonald's. He orders what he calls his favourite meal at the fast food joint (a double cheeseburger) as media and fans rabidly flock around him. It's not clear how much Phelps got paid for the PR stunt, but undoubtedly Michael Phelps will be bringing home more than gold medals after this year.