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Volume 23 No. 13
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‘Why wouldn’t you do all this?’

During the recent ESPY Awards in Los Angeles, Sports Business Journal talked to several athletes on the red carpet about how they see their relationship with the media and entertainment industries in their own storytelling and using it to expand their brand.

Photo: getty images
Photo: getty images
Photo: getty images

Jake Olson

Lost his eyesight to cancer at age 12 and became a long snapper for USC’s football team, graduated in May and is involved in public speaking and raising money for retinoblastoma research

“People have come out of the woodwork — let’s make a movie and whatever — so I’ve signed with UTA [United Talent Agency] to control the process … and just pump the brakes on all that. There’s ample time to do any of that. I’ve enjoyed a relationship with ESPN since they were doing stories on me 10 years ago, and having so many stories done on me. What’s cool for me now on social media is letting people know more about my character, poking fun at myself, posting funny videos. Any way athletes can invite people to see their whole, colorful personalities is cool.”

Photo: getty images
Photo: getty images
Photo: getty images

AJ Andrews

Pro softball player out of LSU who was the first woman to win a Rawlings Gold Glove Award

“I’m involved now in a documentary about winning the Gold Glove Award that could come out in December. It’s in preliminary development stages and details are being finalized with an independent film producer. I get to tell my story, make it into film festivals and see what happens with distribution. Having the vision and story come to life is really cool. And when you see what LeBron James is doing with Uninterrupted and The Players’ Tribune with Derek Jeter, the fact they’re giving athletes the opportunity to tell their story and create the content they want, it shows a lot of athletes are business savvy.”

Photo: getty images
Photo: getty images
Photo: getty images

Julia Landauer

NASCAR driver in its Canada series, a Stanford graduate focused on science, technology and society, a former contestant on the CBS reality show “Survivor” and a motivational speaker with TEDx talks

“I view myself as an entrepreneurial athlete, dipping into every bucket I can to get the message and brand out there. Instagram has been cool for showing big, permanent moments but also for behind-the-scenes, in-the-life-of access. The motivational speaking I do is a powerful platform to tell a story and my experiences translate to a very diverse group of audiences, whether it’s bankers or 13-year-old girls. That power is in storytelling and I’m an advocate of leveraging and utilizing what’s out there. I’m constantly learning what works for me.”

Photo: getty images
Photo: getty images
Photo: getty images

Katelyn Ohashi

Former UCLA All-American gymnast who won the ESPY Award for Best Viral Sports Moment for a perfect-10 floor exercise routine

“UCLA is unique with social media and how they put all their athletes out there, and gymnastics has ended up with the biggest following at the school. I have learned a lot from UCLA. I want to connect with people on personal issues. I also have a love-hate relationship with social media. I know YouTube is the place a lot of people want to go with storytelling, but I am more into visual arts with photography and I also want to come out with books as a place to show my poetry. That isn’t always an easy media for people with short attention spans. But I’m always happy to see athletes present themselves as multiple dimensional humans and we’re still striving for that.”

Photo: Instagram / @dpenn70
Photo: Instagram / @dpenn70
Photo: Instagram / @dpenn70

Donald Penn

Offensive tackle was undrafted but has gone on to make three Pro Bowls in 12 seasons and play 170 consecutive regular-season games for Tampa Bay and Oakland; recently signed with the Washington Redskins

“With the new age and how social media has taken over, why wouldn’t you do all this? It’s a great thing to see someone like LeBron James taking things into his own hands. My PR people keep telling me to post more on Instagram. I want to pick up on it more and see what happens. I want to get my story out — from where I came undrafted to playing so many consecutive games. Now you’re making me think about this. I need to pay more attention.”