Endorsements lucrative for Gabby Douglas
August, 6, 2012
By Darren Rovell | ESPN.com
AP Photo/Gregory BullWith a gold medal and social media buzz, Gabby Douglas will be a hot commodity among sponsors.Any sponsor who wanted to associate themselves with American gymnasts during the Olympic Games identified Shawn Johnson, Nastia Liukin and Jordyn Wieber as ideal endorsers.
But Johnson's comeback fell short, Liukin failed to qualify for the Games and Wieber didn't make the All-Around competition.
By the time Gabby Douglas emerged on the scene when she bested Wieber at the AT&T American Cup at Madison Square Garden in March, it was too late for most sponsors to jump on board.
Olympic sponsor Procter & Gamble did a last-minute deal with Douglas when she made the team, and Kellogg's signed her to a cereal box deal contingent on her winning a gold.
Now with Douglas emerging as the top star, having won the All-Around and team gold, the fact that she didn't sign many deals before the Games means she can ask for more money now.
"It was definitely to her advantage that the focus was on Wieber prior to the Games," said Douglas' agent Sheryl Shade. "Since she had her coming out at the American Cup in March, most Olympic sponsors had already finalized their campaigns."
Shade said she has been pitched endorsement proposals, including from Fortune 100 companies, that Douglas will review starting Tuesday.
Aside from appearing on boxes of Corn Flakes, Shade said Douglas will receive a bump in how much she makes on a traveling gymnastics tour, sponsored by Kellogg's, which begins next month.
Nastia Liukin was prominently featured on the tour's posters, but you can bet event organizers will soon put Douglas out front.
Douglas ranks No. 4 in social media buzz among Olympians, after Michael Phelps, British diver Tom Daley and Ryan Lochte, according to analytics company Bluefin Labs. There were 647,000 comments about her on August 2, the day she won the All-Around gold.
NBC said Monday that Douglas, nicknamed the "Flying Squirrel," was the most-clicked athlete on its Olympics website. More than 18 million people clicked on highlights of Douglas -- that's roughly 1½ times more than the second-most viewed athlete, Michael Phelps.
Based on what previous All-Around winners have taken home in endorsements, Douglas could expect to make between $8 million and $12 million over the next four years.
But even Shade says that projection might be high.
"Gabrielle competes in 2016, so she will not have the time to make appearances and/or endorse products as much," Shade said. "However, the next six months will be very lucrative."
So what categories most interest the 16-year-old?
Shade says she likes orange juice and peanut butter, loves technology and fashion and is ready to pitch a car brand.
"She is about to get her license," Shade said.
Bluefin Labs also might have some good tips on what could be next for Douglas. The social media analytics firm says that people who tweet about Gabby Douglas are most likely to also tweet about DirecTV, Victoria's Secret, Macy's, Target and Chipotle.
Douglas finished last on the uneven bars Tuesday, but that's unlikely to affect her earning potential because she wasn't expected to medal in that event.