Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Are You A Phelps Phan???

Millions of viewers (myself included) stayed up well past their bedtimes this past week to watch Michael Phelps make Olympic history by winning an unprecedented 8 gold medals. Of course now swimming is over and most of us won't see another meet until 2012 when the games move on to London. Olympian value (and money making for the athlete) is largely tied up in advertising so the question now is how to capitalize on Phelp's "phame" before the world loses interest.

Mr. Carlisle, Phelp's agent, has received a huge array of offers for Michael over the last week.

A man in Omaha, Neb., offered to sculpt a statue of the chiseled swimmer. As strange as that sounded, a similar offer came from China. Several book and movie deals were suddenly on the table. A dog-food idea was pitched, given Mr. Phelps's well-known love for his British bulldog, Herman.

And still more: bobblehead dolls, acrylic paintings, commemorative coins, car rims and tuxedos. Some just wanted to give him things, like all the pizza he could eat for a year, or free dental work. And certain female celebrities and athletes wanted an introduction from Mr. Carlisle.

Phelps already does advertising (is endorsed by) Speedo, Visa, Omega and Hilton Hotels among others. Now the bidding wars will begin to see who can keep him and can best ride his wave of popularity.

"Michael Phelps would be worth $40 or $50 million to Nike," Mr. Bloom said. "He could literally allow them to launch a massive swimwear company, and I think you are going to see an incredible bidding war for him."

That means that current sponsor, Speedo, will have a huge gap to fill to improve the $1 million they offered him for these games.

Phelps may never make as much money in endorsements as Tiger Woods who makes $100 million a year in advertising alone playing year round but it is estimated that he could be worth $100 million over his life time. Not bad for a gangly, ADHD kid from Baltimore.

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