Sports Business/08/04/2017

Usain Bolt earns millions: This is how business works with the fastest man in the world

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Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world, will retire after the 2017 IAAF World Championships - and as a multimillionaire. His annual income is estimated by "Forbes" at over 34 million dollars - although Bolt rarely makes an appearance. This is how the million-dollar business works with the super sprinter from Jamaica, who won his gold medals number 7 to 9 at the 2016 Rio Olympics - and had to settle for bronze in the 100 meters at the World Athletics Championships in London (August 4 to 13).

Mission "Forever First": Usain Bolt aims to win one last time at the IAAF World Championships in London
Mission "Forever First": Usain Bolt aims to win one last time at the IAAF World Championships in London

The individual race in the Olympic Stadium in London was to be his final crowning achievement. But the superstar of the 2016 Rio Olympics, who has yet to set a world best in 2017, failed to live up to his role as favorite in the 100-meter dash in 9.95 seconds.

Kniefall vor der Legende: Justin Gatlin gewinnt über 100m bei der WM in London – und feiert den Dritten, Usain Bolt.
Kniefall vor der Legende: Justin Gatlin gewinnt über 100m bei der WM in London – und feiert den Dritten, Usain Bolt.
Image credit:

Both gold medalist Justin Gatlin (9.92) and his U.S. compatriot Christian Coleman (9.95) were faster - giving Nike the lead in the shoe manufacturers' competition at the World Championships. Usain Bolt was not helped by his golden Puma shoes, which the supplier had created especially for the farewell. In third place, his only hope was to win a relay gold with Jamaica at the end of the World Championships - but his last race ended tragically: as Jamaica's final runner, Bolt suffered a cramp and crashed on the final straight of his career.

Trägt Puma mit Stolz: Sprint-Star Usain Bolt hat eine fast familiäre Bildung zu seinem Ausrüster
Trägt Puma mit Stolz: Sprint-Star Usain Bolt hat eine fast familiäre Bildung zu seinem Ausrüster
Image credit: Bolt

Nine gold medals for Usain Bolt: the third Olympic triple

In Rio 2016, Usain Bolt achieved the triple triple: at three Olympic Games in a row - Beijing 2008, London 2012 and now Rio 2016 - he won gold in each of the three disciplines. "I have mixed feelings. I'm sad, but happy at the same time," said Bolt, who ended his Olympic career in Rio and wants to use the 2017 World Championships in London for the final coup. presents the business surrounding the 30-year-old Jamaican, who is the only track and field athlete in the league of the world's top earners.

1. sports income

According to "Forbes", Bolt is number 23 on the list of the highest-paid athletes on the planet. Starting fees and bonuses bring in "only" a small part of the millions. There is talk on the scene that Bolt demands - and often gets - up to half a million dollars in entry fees at major meetings.

Meeting directors grudgingly pay up. "Yes, Usain Bolt has become more expensive since 2008," Zurich boss Patrick Magyar said five years ago. "But there's also no other athlete in the world who has or ever had such an impact on spectator numbers, on marketing and on media interest."

In some locations, he said, "it can make a difference of 10,000 spectators whether he's there or not."

Victory bonuses, on the other hand, are small: In the Diamond League (maximum of 14 events), the winner collects $10,000 each, while the overall discipline winner collects $40,000. A gold medal at the World Championships is worth $60,000, and a world record at the biennial event is worth $100,000.

2. the BoltSponsors

Usain Bolt collects more than 25 million dollars from his backers:

Puma (equipment supplier), Gatorade (beverages), Regupol (tartan tracks), Hublot (watches), Enertor (shoe soles), Champion Shave (razors), XM (trading), G.H. Mumm (sparkling wine), Gibson (headphones), Digicel, Virgin Media, Optus, Telkom, Fastweb, Sprint (all telecommunications companies), Kinder Joy (candy) and Advil (painkillers).

The largest share of sponsorship revenue comes from Puma (see below). This makes marketing king Bolt by far the highest-earning track and field athlete of all time.

3. advertising with the fastest man in the world

Usain Bolt's worldwide fame is paying off for him. His management makes sure that his partners match his image one hundred percent: Speed, gold, coolness, lightness.

The telecommunications companies in Bolt's portfolio advertise fast Internet or mobile connections accordingly.

4. Outfitter Puma with Bolt collection

For Puma, Usain Bolt is THE figurehead. Since he broke all records in his home country as a 15-year-old high school athlete, the sporting goods manufacturer from Herzogenaurach has been at Bolt's side.

"Forever faster" is the Puma slogan that Usain Bolt embodies and is supposed to transport to the world. After Bolt's first gold run in Rio, the Puma runner provided a perfect example of ambush marketing - the IOC lawyers probably don't stand a chance.

In 2013, Bolt extended his contract with Puma. There is a minimum of ten million dollars per season. Another ten million dollars will be added for the start of the World Championships in London.

There were numerous offers from other sports companies, Bolt once reported in an interview: "Yes, yes, of course. But for me, Puma is number one. We've been together for so long, they're like a family to me - and I don't want to start with a new family. Of course you want to make money, but the camaraderie between you and your company should count too."

After his retirement, Bolt is expected to collect four million dollars a year as an ambassador for Puma. "Usain Bolt played a crucial role in Puma's strategy for the 2016 Rio Olympics and beyond. He is the perfect advertiser for us," said Puma CEO Björn Gulden.

Even "Boltmojis" were thrown on the market as a marketing gag in collaboration with Puma before the Olympics. Of course, you can also get real "Bolt gear" from Puma.

Just in time for the 2016 Olympics, the new e-store went online, where fans can buy the complete Bolt collection - from 10 euros for a Bolt coffee mug to 179 euros for sunglasses. A Bolt running jersey with a large Jamaica print costs 40 euros.

5. Bolt's plans for the future

After winning gold in the 100 and 200 meters in Rio de Janeiro, he also managed to win the 4x100-meter relay. Then Usain Bolt collected a total of nine Olympic gold medals - like track and field legend Carl Lewis.

Bolt plans to end his career after the 2017 World Athletics Championships in London. "My original plan was to end my career after the Rio Olympics. But my sponsor (Puma) has asked me to continue for one more year," Bolt said.

The concession: he will only compete in one event - the 100 meters: "I want to go out a winner." Bolt, of course, will be used by London as a big advertiser for the 2017 World Championships.

Fast Food at Tracks & Records

Bolt is also pursuing a culinary venture: The sprint star wants to open a fast-food restaurant chain. Plans call for 15 branches of "Usain Bolt's Tracks & Records" to open in England over the next five years. The fast food will have a traditional Jamaican twist. Thus, creations such as marinated pork, rice and beans will be offered.

6. social commitment

The multimillionaire has his own foundation, which aims to help children and young people lead better lives through education and cultural activities. To his old school in Jamaica, Usain Bolt once gave a good $1.5 million to prevent the closure of the track and field program there.

Another annual charity drive by Bolt, in which he donated about $30,000 to those in need at the end of the year, was stopped by police. "I'm training on a university campus and there were arguments between students I had helped and others who hadn't received anything. So the police asked me to stop it," Bolt says.

His willingness to help was often abused, Usain Bolt told "Runners World" in an interview: "The problem is always the adults and not the children, so I usually help the boys. For example, if someone needs books or help paying off a student loan, I try to help."

Cooler Typ in Lederhosen: Usain Bolt auf dem Oktoberfest 2014 im Schützen Festzelt.
Cooler Typ in Lederhosen: Usain Bolt auf dem Oktoberfest 2014 im Schützen Festzelt.
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Author: Lars Becker