U.S. Skier Gus Kenworthy Has Seen His Brand Take Off Since Coming Out As Gay
U.S. freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy "will be one of only a few openly gay athletes on the U.S. Olympic team next month," and since coming out, "his career, his platform and his brand have taken off," according to Rick Maese of the WASHINGTON POST. Despite being one of the "only action sports star to come out of the closet," Kenworthy has "zero regrets" about his decision. Kenworthy entered the Sochi Games in '14 as a "relative unknown." Even afterward, he was "recognized more for adopting stray dogs in Russia than for his silver medal in the slopestyle event." He still has to qualify, but he will "probably enter the PyeongChang Olympics next month as a star." Kenworthy said, "I’m definitely like ‘the gay skier’ now, and that’s fine. I knew I was stepping into that role when I did it." He had a "handful of small deals in Sochi, but he’ll head to PyeongChang with corporate backing like few others with several big-name companies onboard," including Visa, Toyota, United, P&G, Ralph Lauren and Deloitte. Kenworthy also recently signed deals with Chobani and Samsung. Being gay "didn’t scare them away; it only seemed to make Kenworthy a more attractive spokesman." Kenworthy: "All these brands want to tell my story, and my story isn’t just the story of an athlete." Wasserman's Michael Spencer, Kenworthy’s agent, said that after Kenworthy came out, all of Kenworthy's "existing sponsors immediately expressed support and he started lining up meetings with other companies that wanted to partner with his 26-year-old client." They "didn’t all sign deals right away, many waiting until the Olympics were closer" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 1/11).