While phenom Michael Phelps still has 3 finals races to go, it is pretty clear that he has already put himself in a new stratosphere in regards to future endorsement dollars. As of now, Phelps has deals with Speedo, Visa, Omega and PowerBar. He currently earns $5 million annually from these endorsements.

If Phelps does capture 8 gold medals and breaks the record for the most gold medals in a single Olympics, he will undoubtedly become one of the most sought after athletes from a marketing standpoint.

Now, some may say there is no way an Olympic athlete who is only in the limelight every 4 years will receive endorsement deals equal to the main stream superstars. Well those people are very wrong. Phelps has two unique factors that separate him from most of the stars in Nascar, the NBA, NHL, MLB, NFL, golf, and tennis. Phelps is not only backed by an entire country, but he is also known worldwide. He is a symbol of dedication, success and dominance.

Athletes that have worldwide recognition are few and far between. Tiger, Beckham, Lebron, and Federer are certainly the cream of the crop. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Phelps soon finds himself among that company. The $5 million a year that he currently receives certainly can double when these Olympics conclude and the countdown to 2012 begins. When Michael Phelps calls it a career, he will go down as of the highest endorsed athletes in sports history.

The endorsement industry has certainly come a long way when you have an Olympic swimmer making a splash. His agent, Peter Carlisle, has made a name for himself in the niche market of action sports. Some of his other clients include Kelly Clark, Ross Powers, Danny Kass and Chris Klug.

Mr. Carlisle will certainly be a very busy man in the near future.