JohnWallStreet had the pleasure of attending the 34th Annual March of Dimes Sports Luncheon, presented by Ford (F), on Tuesday afternoon. The event honored ’86 Mets pitcher Ron Darling (Sports Legend of the Year), 4x Olympic Gold Medalist Simone Biles (Sportswoman of the Year), NFL EVP, CMO Dawn Hudson (Corporate Leadership) and Pro Football Hall of Fame CEO David Baker (Sports Leadership). Attended by more than 700 leaders and influencers within in the sports business industry; the event raised $1.17 million for pregnancy and baby health research, education, vaccines, and breakthroughs. JWS had a chance to catch up with the Sportswoman of the Year, Simone Biles, to discuss the financial side of an Olympic sport.
JWS: You don’t get in to gymnastics for the money or to play in the “big leagues”. What is the goal of a young gymnast?
Simone: When most gymnasts get in to it at 6 years old, they say “I want to go to the Olympics”; but you don’t really think much about that. You think, I want to be a college athlete and you strive for the college scholarship. It’s hard to be a professional gymnast because our careers are very short; your peak age is 16-18 years old and then you are kind of done.
JWS: When did you decide to turn professional and can you tell us about the experience of signing your first endorsement deal?
Simone: After my second World Championships, I was being scouted by agents; but I wasn’t ready to go professional yet, so I waited another year. When I turned 18 years old we decided to look for an agent. We got one signed and she asked what were some of the things I liked; obviously, the first thing was athletic clothes because I’m in them daily. Nike (NKE) reached out, Under Armour (UAA) reached out and you go with what is best for you. I like to do what represents me. I chose Nike.
JWS: Do you feel as if signing lucrative endorsement contracts has validated your athletic career?
Simone: I don’t like to think like that. I try to think of what I have achieved and go from there; rather than focus on the money.
Howie Long-Short: Based on the public information available, it appears as if Simone has an estimated net worth between $2.6 million and $3 million; far more than most gymnasts will make in their careers. Gymnast compensation is tied to placing in competition (and endorsements, which don’t come without medals). Speaking in the most general terms, gold medals are worth $25,000, silver medals are worth $15,000 and bronze medals are worth $10,000 in prize money.
Fan Marino: While on the topic of the Olympics, NBC is going all out with their 2018 Olympic coverage from PyeongChang, South Korea. The network has announced they’ll be airing primetime coverage live, across all time zones, for the first time; crucial for those that don’t live on the East Coast and want to avoid “spoiler alerts” on social media. NBC Universal will be airing 2,400 hours of programming, a record for the Winter Games.
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