In his fifth Olympic games, USA swimmer Michael Phelps is once again dominating the competition. But his success in Rio was anything but certain a few year ago.
CCTV America’s Jim Spellman brings us this report.
His Olympic career began in Sydney in 2000 when he was just 15. He didn’t take home a medal that year but in Athens, 2004, he won eight medals then took home eight more in Beijing in 2008, then six more in London 2012.
In Rio he has added even more medals to his trophy case, winning four more gold medals, so far.
But, suddenly, after the 2012 London games, Phelps announced his retirement.
“I think every step of my career has been something that is very meaningful, from making my first Olympic team in 2000, at 15, to where we are today here finishing up in London,” Phelps said in 2012. “It’s been a great career, a great journey, I can’t be any more happier than I am.”
In 2014, he surprised the swimming world and announced he was coming out of retirement. But Phelps would soon enter the darkest period of his life. He was arrested for drunk driving.
He was also arrested on similar charges back in 2004 and in 2009. Then a picture of Phelps apparently smoking marijuana surfaced.
Two years ago, he spent six weeks in rehab and received probation on the 2014 drunk driving charge. He seemed to emerge from the challenges humbled and with a new focus.
Since then Phelps’s life has been on the upswing. He’s engaged to a former beauty queen and their first child was born in May.
Heading in to Rio he vowed to use all his experiences – good and bad -to lead the U.S. swimming team.
The U.S. Olympic Committee pays American athletes $25,000 for each gold medal, so Phelps has already won $100,000 in Rio for his medals. But the real money comes from endorsements and advertising. Michael Phelps has been paid nearly $100 million by advertisers over the years and will likely make millions more in the years to come.
Bruce Turkel on marketing Olympians
Phelps isn’t the only athlete using the Olympics to market their future. Companies are also cashing in. For more on this, CCTV America’s Rachelle Akuffo spoke to branding expert Bruce Turkel.
Lisa Delpy Neirotti on sports marketing
To talk about the intersection of sports and branding, we were joined by Lisa Delpy Neirotti of George Washington University. She’s an Olympic Scholar and Professor of Sports Management and Marketing.