Endorsements Olympics

Dealing With My Phelps Man-Crush

I have a man-crush on Michael Phelps. In the past week, Michael Phelps has been the most discussed topic in my small circle of friends. One of my roommates finds it funny to tell everyone, including the Publix bagger, that I have this man-crush, at least ten people have asked me how much I wish I were Peter Carlisle (Phelps’ agent), and I have definitely been swimming more laps to try to get a Phelps-type body. But how long will Phelps-mania last? After all, dude is a swimmer. I represent bowlers, and I know just how hard it is to try to convince corporations their value even though their ESPN ratings show they deserve money and their sport runs for a large portion of the year without skipping a beat. The Summer Olympics come around once every four years, and when it is not on, no one gives a damn about swimming.

Even though there is a small window for swimming to catch mainstream America and the rest of the world’s attention, many, including myself, believe that Phelps will be one of the highest paid athletes in terms of endorsements for at least the next five years. Personally, I think Carlisle needs to forego sleep and start racking up the deals right now, while Phelps still holds the spotlight. He still has about another two weeks before he begins to fade a little. Phelps will go to England to help “begin” preparations for the next Summer Olympics at the conclusion of the Beijing Games and then will hit the late night and early morning TV circuit. Now is when Phelps will receive his largest endorsements.

Phelps automatically will receive $1 million for winning more than seven gold medals. Speedo guaranteed the prize money prior to the Games. Phelps ended up adding one more to his belt just for fun, finishing with eight golds. Tiger Woods makes about $100 million annually from prize money and endorsements. Phelps will never see that kind of money, but his agent says that over Phelps’ lifetime, the swimmer will receive roughly what Tiger makes in one-year, which is extremely impressive for a guy who makes his living in a pool. Some say $100 million is an aggressive number for Carlisle to put out there. I think that it is rather modest. Phelps was making about $5 million per year before he completely took the world under his broad shoulders this summer. Within the next year alone, his income from endorsements should at least triple, especially if a bidding war erupts between Speedo and Nike. Even Phelps’ mom is getting endorsement opportunities.

Cash in now, young man, but play it smart. You have many years ahead of you where you have potential to make big money. If Carlisle aligns his client with the right sponsors, he will undoubtedly makes Phelps a nine-figure swimmer.

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.

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