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 Usain Bolt and Money: The Business with the Super Sprinter
Running | 04.08.2017

Super sprinter wins bronze medal at the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London

Usain Bolt and Money: How Business Works with the Fastest Man in the World

Usain Bolt and Money: The Business with the Super Sprinter. Mission "Forever First": Usain Bolt aims to win one last time at the IAAF World Championships in London (Quelle: Facebook.com/Usain Bolt)
Mission "Forever First": Usain Bolt aims to win one last time at the IAAF World Championships in London
Bild: Facebook.com/Usain Bolt
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Usain Bolt, fastest person on earth, will retire after the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London – as a multimillionaire. His annual income is estimated by Forbes to be at over 34 million dollars – with Bolt making only a few appearances. At the World Championships in London (4th to 13th August), Bolt had to content himself with bronze over 100 meters. On Saturday he will run his last race with the Jamaican relay team. How the multimillion dollar business with the super sprinter works.

The single race in the Olympic Stadium of London should be his last coronation. But the superstar of the 2016 Olympics in Rio, still not impressed with any world-class performance in 2017, did not do justice to his role in the 100 meter run in 9.95 seconds.

Justin Gatlin wins over 100 meters at the World Championships in London - and celebrates the third, Usain Bolt. (Quelle: imago)
Justin Gatlin wins over 100 meters at the World Championships in London - and celebrates the third, Usain Bolt.
Bild: imago

Both gold medalists Justin Gatlin (9.92) and his US national Christian Coleman (9.95) were quicker, so Nike took the lead in the competition of the shoe manufacturers at the World Cup. Usain Bolt did not even help his golden Puma shoes, which the company had specially created for farewell. As a third, he can only hope for a gold medal with the Jamaican relay team in his very last career 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.

1. Athletic income

According to Forbes, Bolt is number 23 on the list of best paid athletes on the planet. Entry fees and rewards “only” bring in only a little share. Nevertheless. 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.

Wear them with pride: Sprint star Usain Bolt has found some "family members" in sportswear giant Puma (Quelle: Facebook.com/Usain Bolt)
Wear them with pride: Sprint star Usain Bolt has found some "family members" in sportswear giant Puma
Bild: Facebook.com/Usain Bolt

Meeting directors pay with much gnashing of teeth. “Yes, Usain Bolt has become more expensive since 2008,” said Zurich boss Patrick Magyar already five 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.


2. The Bolt-Sponsors

Usain Bolt collects roughly 30 million dollars from his backers:

Puma (outfitter), Gatorade (beverages), Regupol (tartan tracks), Hublot (watches), Enertor (insoles), Champion Shave (razors), XM (trading), G.H. Mumm (sparkling wine), Gibson (headphones), Digicel, Virgin Media, Optus, Telkom, Fastweb, Sprint (all of which are telecommunication companies), Kinder Joy (sweets) und Advil (pharmacy).

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.

3. Advertising with the fastest man in the world

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.

4. Outfitter Puma with the Bolt collection

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. He got at least ten million dollars a season. For attending the 2017 World Championships in London he gets 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.

5. Bolt’s future plans

Usain Bolt faces the final curtain at 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 only start at one event – the 100 meter: “I want to go out as a winner.” Bolt is naturally be used as the biggest walking advertisement for the 2017 London World Championships.

During the Olympic Games, Bolt talked about his idea of working as an actor.


6. Social commitment

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.”

Lars Becker (Quelle: Lars Becker)
Article by Lars Becker, author
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