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Volume 26 No. 65
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Gap Brand Athleta Signs Allyson Felix To Multiyear Sponsorship Deal

Felix has been without a sponsor since her deal with Nike ended in late '17
Photo: getty images

Gap's athletic-wear brand Athleta is making Gold Medal-winning U.S. sprinter Allyson Felix its "first sponsored athlete" with a multiyear contract, according to Leta Shy of SELF. Felix has been "without a sponsor since her contract with Nike ended" in December '17, and she competed in last weekend's U.S. Track & Field Outdoor Championships "unattached," though she did wear Athleta apparel. Felix had "been in negotiations with Nike until recently" about renewing their partnership. Felix in May wrote an op-ed for the N.Y. Times that "implored Nike and the sports-apparel industry at large to pay its female athletes throughout their pregnancies and recovery for childbirth." Felix indicated that her deal with Athleta "allows for maternity protection, since she is paid 100% throughout her contract 'no matter what I decided to do' regarding pregnancy." Athleta does not make footwear, so Felix is "still working out the details" regarding a corresponding sponsorship (SELF.com, 7/31). CNBC.com's Lauren Thomas notes in addition to "playing a key role" in Athleta's '20 "Power of She" marketing campaign, Felix will "work with Athleta's design team to help create more high-performance running gear and training sets." The Athleta brand has "tried to reach both moms and daughters" (CNBC.com, 7/31). Felix said that she chose Athleta because the company "shared similar values and agreed to help her launch initiatives to empower and support women." She said, "It's really redefining what sponsorship looks like. They're excited to celebrate me as a whole athlete. That's not just my performance, but being a mother and an activist" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/31).

NEW DYNAMIC IN PLAY: YAHOO SPORTS' Jason Owens reports Felix’ "tactic of negotiating her business dealings in a public forum is part of a wider awakening in the world of women’s sports." More female athletes, as seen with the USWNT, "demand changes to what they see as an unjust system that penalizes motherhood and doesn’t give them level footing with their male counterparts." Felix said, "It’s such a special time now in women’s sports. I think we’re just seeing the power of the collective. Just our voices creating change. I hope it’s an encouragement for more women everywhere to be able to speak up and speak their truth” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/31).