Usain Bolt, eight-time Olympic champion, is the superstar of the 2016 Rio Olympics: He won the 100- and 200-meter sprint.
ISPO.com presents the business surrounding Usain Bolt, who is the single track athlete to play in the league of top earners in world sports.
According to Forbes, Bolt is number 32 on the list of best paid athletes on the planet. Entry fees and rewards “only” bring in up to 2.5 million dollars in the process. It’s said in the scene that Bolt demands up to a half a million dollar entry fee at major meets – and often gets just that.
Meeting directors pay with much gnashing of teeth. “Yes, Usain Bolt has become more expensive since 2008,” said Zurich boss Patrick Magyar already four years ago. “But there is no other athlete on earth who has or ever had such an effect on viewing figures, on marketing, and on media interest.”
At some locations, it could “account for 10,000 viewers as to whether he was there or not.”
The win bonuses are low in contrast: In the Diamond League (maximum of 14 events), the winner rakes in 10,000 dollars for each event, while the overall discipline winner gets 40,000 dollars. A gold medal at the World Championships is worth 60,000 dollars, and a world record at the biennial event is 100,000 dollars.
Usain Bolt collects roughly 30 million dollars from his ten global and seven regional backers:
Puma (outfitter), Gatorade (beverages), Regupol (tartan tracks), Hublot (watches), Nissan GT-R (sports cars), ANA (airline), Gibson (headphones), Enertor (shoe insert manufacturer), Champion Shave (razors);
Digicel, Virgin Media, Optus, Telkom, Fastweb, Celcom (all of which are telecommunication companies), Banco Original (finance company).
The largest portion of sponsorship earnings comes from Puma (see below). Thus, marketing king Bolt is by far the highest-earning track athlete of all time.
Usain Bolt’s worldwide fame pays for itself. His management pays attention to his partners that they one hundred percent fit with his image: speed, gold, coolness, and lightness.
The telecommunications companies in the Bolt portfolio advertise accordingly with fast internet or mobile communications connections.
Nissan uses Bolt’s predilection for fast cars and is presenting a custom model of the 570 horsepower GT-R – in gold, of course.
And the Japanese airline ANA is coaxing Usain Bolt to do something silly, like shuffling around like an airplane.
For Puma, Usain Bolt is THE posterchild. The sporting goods manufacturer from Herzogenaurach has been by Bolt’s side ever since he broke all records in his home country as a 15-year-old high school athlete.
In 2013, Bolt extended his contract with Puma until 2016. He gets at least ten million dollars a season. Should he take part in the 2017 World Championships in London as well, he will get another ten million.
There have been numerous offers from other sports companies, reported Bolt in an interview: “Yeah, definitely, definitely. But for me, Puma is the number one in my book. We've been together for years now, they are my family, so I don't want to start with a new family. You want money, but it's also got to be about the comradeship between you and your company.”
Once his contract has run out, Bolt is said to earn four million dollars annually as a Puma ambassador. “Usain Bolt plays a decisive role in the Puma strategy for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and afterwards.” He’s the perfect posterchild for us,” said Puma boss Björn Gulden.
Even “Boltmojis” were launched as a marketing gag before the Olympics, in collaboration with Puma. Of course, you can also get genuine “Bolt gear” from Puma.
The new e-store went online just in time before the 2016 Olympics; here, fans can purchase the complete Bolt collection – starting at 10 euros for a Bolt coffee mug up to 179 euros for sunglasses. The original Bolt running jersey with the big Jamaica imprint costs 40 euros.
On his homepage, Usain Bolt presents four people who look after managing the superstar:
Usain Bolt aims to end his career after the 2017 World Championships in Athletics in London. “My original plan was to end my career after the Rio Olympic Games. But my sponsor (Puma) asked me to keep going for one more year,” said Bolt.
However, he’ll then potentially only start at one event – the 100 meter: “I want to go out as a winner.” Bolt will naturally be used as the biggest walking advertisement for the 2017 London World Championships.
The multimillionaire has his own foundation, aimed at giving children and teenagers a better life through education and cultural activities. He once gave his old school in Jamaica a good 1.5 million dollars to prevent the closure of its local track and field program.
Another annual charity campaign by Bolt, in which he had donated about 30,000 dollars to the needy at the end of the year, was halted by the police. “I train on a university campus, and it came to conflicts between students whom I had helped and the others who had gotten nothing. So the police asked me to end it,” explains Bolt.
His readiness to help has often been abused, he said in an interview with “Runner’s World”: “The problem is always with the adults and not the kids, so now I mostly help the young ones. If you’re going to school and need help paying off your student loan or need books or something, I will try to help you.”