Calculating the price of eight golds

August 18, 2008 7:33:07 PM PDT
The household name coming out of the Beijing Olympics is Michael Phelps after he won eight gold medals in a single games. And, as you can imagine, he will turn that Olympic gold into the kind you can spend.

Accomplished athletes and sports celebrities pop up everywhere to endorse products and it's only a matter of time before Michael Phelps joins Olympic medalist Kristi Yamaguchi on a cereal box.

"Based on my experience with Kristi Yamaguchi, I think endorsers were knocking on his door before he even got to the Olympics, far before that," says Dale Minami a San Francisco attorney.

Minami reviewed Yamaguchi's endorsement deals.

He estimates Phelps could rake in $30 to $40 million, 10 times more than before his eight-medal gold record.

"If you remember the stories about how much he ate, there are a whole lot of food products he could endorse," says Minami.

Brand strategist Doug Nelson believes swimming is not the kind of sport that will give Phelps long shelf life.

"You're going to see a lot of Michael Phelps in the next three to six months, and then after that, you're going to see it taper off a little bit, but he's as good as they get right now, and he's going to be the most high-profile person you're going to see from these Olympics," says Nelson, from Echo Marketing.

Nelson points to Phelps' image as particularly desirable.

"He has what appears to be a nice, close-knit family. His mother and his sisters have been shown a lot throughout the Olympics. That's the kind of family values that a lot of marketers are looking for," says Nelson.

However, consumers and marketing experts say Phelps shouldn't be tempted by every deal he's offered.

"If he recommended a swimsuit or something along the line of what he does, for what makes him good, then I would agree with that," said Mary Beth Natarajan, a marketing executive.
"So you think he should be selective in what he endorses?" asked ABC7's David Louie.
"Yes," said Natarajan.

Phelps has been deluged with as many as 50 offers a day. Speculation is also rampant whether he'll switch from Speedo to Nike.

Whether it's $40 or $50 million or more, many people are saying that Michael Phelps and endorsements are a perfect fit.


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