SBD/July 27, 2012/Olympics

Michael Phelps Will Have Career Options After He Retires From Swimming

Phelps' Olympic success will help boost profile with companies after retirement
Many Olympic athletes "tend to fade from the public eye once their competitive days are over," but U.S. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps "could be different," according to Jack Lambert of the BALTIMORE BUSINESS JOURNAL. Phelps has "international appeal that could lead to fame and sponsorship dollars worldwide." He is "comfortable in the limelight, having appeared in national advertising campaigns since he was 19." Phelps' Olympic success "very well could take him wherever he wants." Illinois-based Q Sports Marketing President Patrick Quinn said that Phelps could "easily pluck the 'low-hanging fruit' of becoming a corporate speaker." Athletes of Phelps' "stature typically receive between $30,000 and $50,000 for corporate speaking engagements." Quinn said that he will also "be able to fall back on numerous endorsements." Phelps has "made millions from endorsement contracts with Subway, Proctor & Gamble, Under Armour and Speedo, among others." Quinn added that most Olympic athletes "lose endorsements once they stop competing." But Phelps' status "as the top swimmer ever means companies will still seek him out after his retirement." Quinn said, "While this sort of thing is never easy, trying to do it for someone who is the best ever is a whole lot easier than it is for most athletes." Baltimore-based sports agent Ron Shapiro said that the "best thing" Phelps could do post-retirement "is form an advisory board of business associates to help sift through commercial and investment offers." Shapiro said that Phelps "seems to be off to a good start in the business world." He founded the "Michael Phelps Swim School in 2009 with longtime coach Bob Bowman and has licensed locations in Baltimore; Buffalo, N.Y.; and Rochester, N.Y." He also "created the Michael Phelps Foundation in 2008 to promote swimming and water safety" (BALTIMORE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 7/27 issue).

PICTURE PERFECT? The “official Olympic headshot” of Phelps, which depicts him looking disheveled with a scraggly beard and no expression, was discussed on ESPN’s “PTI” earlier in the week. ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser said it “looks like he crawled out of a cave.” Kornheiser: “I am told you’re not allowed to smile in these shots for your official headshot. Honestly, would you have him endorse any particular product? The guy shows up looking like that?” He added, “Not all of us sell Subway sandwiches, so he’s got to think about what he’s going to look like” (“PTI,” ESPN, 7/24). CBS' Jim Rome said he wants Phelps “to freshen up because he showed up for his official Olympic headshot with a big ole’ bedhead.” Rome: “The face of the Olympic Games shouldn’t have the lettuce of a frat boy who just rolled off the futon” (“Rome,” CBS Sports Network, 7/24).

RYAN'S SONG: Phelps' main competition this year could be fellow U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte, who Tuesday was “Today’s Athlete To Watch” on the NBC morning show. NBC's Matt Lauer noted while other swimmers have "grabbed the spotlight in past Olympic Games, this could be the year he takes center stage.” Lauer told Lochte, “You’re seen as a terrific competitor in the pool and a little bit more of a free-spirit out of the pool. Fair assessment?” Lochte replied, “Oh yes.” Lauer: “One way Ryan expresses that free spirit is his unique sense of style, from colorful Speedos to outrageous sneakers he helped design and of course, his now infamous diamond mouthpiece first revealed at a medal ceremony.” Lochte said the diamond “grill” during the London Games “will come back” (“Today,” NBC, 7/24).
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