Monday, October 15, 2012
Talking business with Usain Bolt
By Darren Rovell
Usain Bolt talks about his soccer career, endorsements and more in a Q&A with ESPN Playbook.
The fastest man in the world title is a marketing dream, and it belongs to Usain Bolt, who this summer became the first athlete in Olympic history to defend his 100-meter and 200-meter gold medals. I sat down with Bolt to talk about his business.
Darren Rovell: You are here today representing Puma, your biggest sponsor.
Usain Bolt: They've been with me from the very beginning, through all my ups and downs.
When you call them up, can you get anything you want?
Yeah, I ask them to do all different colors. I also tell them when I like a particular shoe that they are discontinuing. They've put it back in production to make some for me. I just got a new catalog actually, which means I'm going to need to give away some of the stuff I've gotten in the past to make room.
You've been pretty serious about trying soccer. Or at least you've said you are serious.
Oh, I'm really serious. I think I can play and I have a relationship with [Manchester United manager] Alex Ferguson and I just know I can get better.
So when will you focus on that?
After the next Olympics, I will start training.
I've speculated in the past that you have slowed down at the end of some of your races because you didn't want to break your record by too much. The idea that since you get bonuses for breaking records, it's in your best interest to not completely shatter your record as long as you win. Any truth to that?
No. In the Olympics, I'm just happy to win a gold medal, I'm not thinking about breaking world records. It's a different mentality for the Olympics versus other races.
It seems like it would be in your best interest to race in fewer meets. You can get appearance fees and at the same time not compromise your standing as the fastest man. Is that the reality?
Absolutely. I don't want to race too much and burn myself out. I'm targeting six to seven races a year.
Besides Puma, you have endorsement deals with Gatorade, Hublot, Visa, Soul Electronics and Nissan. What's an endorsement deal that you don't have that you'd like to have?
I don't think I've ever been asked that before. Well, I like McDonald's.
Yeah, we know that. You gave them a ton of publicity when you said you ate a wrap from there before your 100-meter final this Olympics.
Some have speculated that Bolt slows down on purpose at the end of races, but he says he doesn't.
I did give them a lot of free publicity, right?
I guess I'm a big fan of Skittles, too.
How is it possible that your last name is Bolt?
It's funny. When people first see that I do what I do and they see Bolt, they assume it's some sort of nickname. But it's my family name. It's definitely real.
What's it like when you go back to Jamaica?
It's actually not that crazy because people see me enough over there. I'm always around so it's more normal there. In other places, around Europe, where I'm not seen as much, it's a bit more stressful as far as the crowds go.