SBJ/August 20-26, 2012/Olympics

Michael Phelps to sign two new deals as companies keep calling

Michael Phelps is close to announcing two new partnerships with companies that are not Olympic sponsors, the swimmer’s agent, Peter Carlisle, said last week.

Carlisle, managing director of Olympics and action sports for Octagon, declined to identify the companies, citing confidentiality agreements, but he said the deals were expected to be announced in the next week or so.

The swimmer is expected to announce new partnerships in the next week or so.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
Phelps last week announced a deal with General Mills brand Wheaties that puts him on the famous cereal box cover. Phelps, who became the most decorated Olympian in history in London, also has partnerships with Visa, Omega, Under Armour, Hilton, Master Spas, Procter & Gamble, Subway, Speedo, Pure Sport and HP.

Carlisle said he had received calls from more than 50 companies inquiring about working with Phelps since the end of the London Games, adding that he turned down two deals that were offered by companies while the Olympics were ongoing. He said one of the two is a major, global brand, but he declined to identify any of the interested companies.

“The way this works is, I will get, on a given day — and I don’t know how long this is going to last — but I am getting something like 20 to 25 inquiries a day,” Carlisle said.

Prior to the Olympics, Carlisle cited the beverage category as one he was wanting to fill for Phelps after London. He also said he would look internationally for deals (SportsBusiness Journal, July 30-Aug. 5 issue).

Carlisle last week said he has received inquiries from more than one network about potential broadcasting deals for Phelps, as well. He would not name the networks. Asked if the broadcast inquiries were limited to Phelps working in some capacity with Olympics or swimming only, Carlisle said, “The broadcast stuff is not a priority right now. I don’t know what it is limited to.”

Carlisle has said he believes Phelps can earn more than $100 million over his lifetime. “People will think I am crazy, but I believe as long as he wants to do business, his opportunities can grow,” he said. “In my opinion, he is one of the truly global sports icons whose significance will probably transcend time.”

By winning four gold and two silver medals in London, Phelps became the most decorated Olympian ever with 22 medals, surpassing Russian gymnast Larisa Latynina, who won 18 medals between 1956 and 1964. Carlisle said he highlighted the possibility that Phelps would break that 48-year-old record to the companies that are expected to announce deals with Phelps imminently.

Louis Vuitton last week unveiled two images featuring Phelps, including one of him with Latynina, though no deal with that company had been officially announced as of press time.

Carlisle said Phelps’ having the Olympic record for medals puts him on par as a global sports icon with the likes of Pelé or Muhammad Ali. It opens the door for him to do deals with global brands, licensing deals and appearance deals the type of which Phelps didn’t have time to do when he was an active, competitive swimmer.

There are a lot of possibilities “assuming he wants to continue to work,” Carlisle said. “He can say, ‘I am tired of doing all these things and I just want to play golf,’ and that would be totally fine.”

Carlisle said Phelps, most immediately, has said he wants to travel but that he has indicated he wants to work, as well.

As for Carlisle, he has spent a lot of his time the last 10 years building Phelps’ brand. He said he enjoys mentoring the seven agents he oversees in Octagon’s Olympic and action sports division. Octagon agents Janey Miller, Robert Wagner, Abigail Tordoff and Anastasia Skavronskaia also represented athletes who won medals in London. Asked, though, whom he wants to represent in the future, Carlisle said, “Michael Phelps.”


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