After her electrifying win in the gymnastics all-around competition last night, America has a new sweetheart, and her name is Gabby Douglas. Douglas boasts a million-watt smile, incredible skills (look at her!), and she’s the first African-American ever to take the top prize in Olympic gymnastics. That means not only joy and triumph, but millions of dollars in endorsements.
Douglas and her teammates will each earn a base salary of $100,000 for performing in a 40-city gymnastics tour that begins next month, sponsored by Kellogg’s; Douglas herself could earn up to $500,000 on the tour now that she’s won an individual gold.
But the real money will come from endorsements. As Forbes reports, 16-year-old Douglas signed her first endorsement deal on July 23 with P&G, and she’s now featured in that companies “Raising an Olympian” campaign. One sports marketer estimates that Douglas will be able to earn between $9 and $10 million in endorsements over the next four years. “With Olympic athletes, especially individuals who win gold medals, brands look for connection between the athlete’s values and the brand’s values. The values companies look for are greatness, gold medal champions and hard work. Gabby has all of those,” the expert explains.
For many athletes, prominent Olympic success is the key to turning a short-lived career into a lifetime of sponsorships, endorsements, and speaking gigs. “The Olympics has the highest premium that brands are willing to pay for sponsorships,” another sports marketing expert tells Forbes. “Although the games only last for a couple of weeks every four years, successful Olympic athletes can earn more than, for example, a basketball player who has a few successful weeks during a season.”
As the Daily Mail puts it, Douglas, adorably nicknamed “the Flying Squirrel” is positioned to become “the biggest star since Mary Lou Retton.” She’s already on the front of the corn flakes box. She’s got that smile, a huge personality, an irresistible back-story (she moved away from home to train at age 14), and fans including Oprah and Michael Phelps.“All the hard work has paid off,” Douglas said yesterday after securing the gold. And it’s about to pay off again.