In The Representation Olympics, Octagon Takes Gold

When it comes to Olympic clients, agencies often live and die by their success every four years when they are in competition. Octagon is definitely taking that success and running with it as the agency’s clients include the most decorated Olympian of all-time Michael Phelps, his relay teammate Nathan Adrian, and gymnastic phenoms Simone Biles and Aly Raisman.

In an article for SportsBusiness Journal, Ben Fischer highlights the successes of various athletes during the Games and subsequently the agencies that represent them.

The top four agencies at the Olympics were Octagon with 24 total medals, followed by Wasserman (19), WME-IMG (18), Paul Doyle Management (15) and Chicago Sports and Entertainment (8).

In total, Octagon represented 15 Olympic clients worldwide at the Games, bringing home 24 medals, 16 of which were gold. It is hard to compare the success of different agencies when it comes to Olympic representation, as different sports award different numbers of medals, according to Fischer.

Peter Carlisle, Octagon’s Olympic and action sports managing director said, “The strategy, in a way, is to represent as few athletes as you can, but to represent as many of the top 10 stories coming out of the Games. So that all of the time you’re spending doing the most substantive work and productive work. If we’re trying to just represent medalists in general, then we would have an entirely different roster and take a different approach.”

Track and field specialty agency, Paul Doyle Management, represented 18 total clients from the US, Canadian and Jamaican teams. Their athletes took home 11 individual and four relay team medals, with seven golds. Among its clients was now two-time decathlon champion, Ashton Eaton, one of Team USA’s most marketed athletes.

WME-IMG had 52 clients in Rio, mostly made up of international golfers and tennis players. Small agency, Chicago Sports & Entertainment Partners had seven athletes competing, who brought home eight medals, four of which came from swimmer Maya DiRado.

Although the agencies that represent these stars aim to capitalize on their newly acquired popularity, there are some pretty significant roadblocks. Some of Team USA’s breakout stars from this Olympics, such as swimmers Katie Ledecky, Simone Manuel and Ryan Murphy, and gymnast Madison Kocian are NCAA athletes. As is the case with the subject of collegiate athletes getting paid, there has been news surrounding the up and coming stars of the Olympics. To remain amateurs, these athletes are not permitted to collect on any marketing endorsements. They are, however, permitted to collect the medal winning bonuses from the Olympic committee. According to an article from Total Sportek, it is estimated that the USOC pays athletes $25,000 per gold medal, $15,000 per silver and $10,000 for bronze. With Ledecky, for example, she is allowed to accept the $115,000 in medal earnings (4 gold, 1 silver), but in order to maintain her NCAA eligibility at Stanford she will be turning down an expected $5 million in endorsements, according to many reports.