By all accounts, newly crowned Olympic champion Gabby Douglas is an international media darling. Shortly after her individual all-around win, Kellogg’s announced that she will be featured on special edition boxes of Corn Flakes, which will be available in the fall. But will Gabby’s two gold medals translate into additional commercial opportunities? Can the 16 year old capitalize on her current popularity to insure long-term financial stability?
It seems that Douglas is comfortable in the spotlight, and has made plans for how she will handle her increasing fame. Sports agent Sheryl Shade represents Douglas. Shade’s New York based firm began representing gymnasts in 1996, following team USA’s all around win in Atlanta. Shade’s track record indicates that she has a knack for stretching gymnast’s media exposure and earning power past their days as competitive gymnasts. Her talent roster includes gymnast Shawn Johnson, who appeared on Dancing With The Stars and is the face of several current Olympic campaigns, in spite of the fact that she retired from the sport due to injury earlier in the year.
Gymnastics is a physically taxing sport. With the Olympics being four years apart, it is rare for gymnasts to compete in multiple games.
Therefore, experts say that Douglas has to strike while the iron is hot in order to maximize her earning potential. “They get such a small window of opportunity in this sport. It’s the nature of the sport that they will probably only compete in one Olympics, so she should take advantage,” said Jason Bahleda, a coach at Gymnastics Training Center in Rochester Hills, Michigan. “There is no professional gymnastics league and they are not allowed to make money as college athletes.”
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According to sports writer Tripp Mickle, Kellogg’s is likely to be one of several companies to associate their brand with the pint-sized gymnast following the Olympics. “I’m sure they’ll pursue a deal with some sort of apparel partner, maybe a soft drink company and probably a book deal.”
By the time Douglas signed with agent Sheryl Shade in March of this year, most sponsors had already selected the athletes that would appear in their Olympic campaigns. Douglas was not as well known at the time, which limited her endorsement opportunities, but Shade was still able to land a deal for Douglas and her mother in P&G’s “Raising an Olympian” campaign.