Catching Up With Erin Hamlin’s Agent, Jesse Lichtenberg
BDA Sports Management agent Jesse Lichtenberg represents three sliding sport athletes here in Pyeongchang, including Team USA opening ceremony flag-bearer Erin Hamlin. Lichtenberg never set out to conquer luge, bobsled and skeleton, but she leads all agents with three U.S. Pyeongchang participants, including bobsledders Jamie Greubel Poser and Steve Langton. I spent Tuesday night with her at the Olympic Sliding Centre, where she watched Hamlin’s final singles competition of her Olympic career along with Hamlin’s parents and a large contingent of the American luge family.
How did you get into representing sliding sports?
LICHTENBERG: Over nine years ago, my old boss said to me one day, “Hey, Jesse, there’s this girl who just won the luge world championships, you should reach out to her.” I was 23 years old, and at that age you just listen and you don’t question that stuff. … A couple days later I got on the phone with Erin and her parents and she was still pretty young — I’m only a year older, so I guess we were all pretty young — and we decided it was a good idea. And my old boss said, “OK, you’re her agent.” I’m thinking, “Oh my God, what did I get myself into? What is luge?” Over the years I figured it out, and in 2009 I thought I was signing one athlete, and it turns out I got a gigantic family. They’re pretty incredible. I’m the luckiest.
Why do you like this so much?
LICHTENBERG: There’s something special about sliding sports. They are truly just … they’re not only some of the best athletes in the world, they’re truly some of the best human beings, and I always joke that sliding sports are like quicksand. You get in there, you stick your feet in the water, you think you’re fine, and then one day you turn around and realize you’re so knee deep in sliding sports, you’re in for life. After Erin, several years later, it was Steve Langton. Erin said I should meet her good friend Steve. He was going to sign with another agency and wasn’t entirely comfortable. I ended up talking to his family, we had a really good conversation, and at the end of the conversation he asked me if I’d be his agent. And there was one more in skeleton, and then Jamie Greubel. They’re incredible, I’ve worked with a lot of athletes in a lot of sports in the last decade, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world.
These aren’t the most famous members of the Olympic team. How do you go about getting them deals?
LICHTENBERG: People don’t necessarily know about these sports, and it’s because they are smaller sports — luge is never going to compete with skiing in the U.S. … It’s always about being really, really creative, so even if they don’t have the biggest name outright, there’s something unique and special about them. Take Erin Hamlin, she comes from a town in upstate New York with a population smaller than my high school on Long Island, and I’m telling you if Erin sneezes it makes the front page of the newspaper there.
What’s the most creative deal you’ve done?
LICHTENBERG: I loved doing Citibank with Erin, that was really fun. It was in 2014. I think this year’s United ads are incredible. They have them all being super heroes, and she really is.