Sure, He's Fast. But Can Usain Bolt Sell?

And now this commercial break:

Bob Dorfman, a San Francisco ad man and sports nut, has found a great way to combine work and play. After watching all of the major sporting events (your Super Bowls and World Series, your Olympics and NBA Championships, etc.), Bob writes up the Sports Marketers' Scouting Report. The report is Bob's witty and accessible take on the endorsement potential of the athletes and personalities who've just paraded across our screens for a few days or weeks.

Bob's work is aimed at advertisers, of course, but it's a fun read for civilians, too. Mostly, it offers a little peak into how advertisers think -- and what they think they can sell to us.

Anyway, Bob sent me a copy of his latest work handicapping the Olympics last night. Here's how the marketing judge scored it (all comments below are Dorfman's):


--Michael Phelps If anyone can transcend the limited shelf life of Olympians, it's Phelps. His performance in Beijing was legendary, he's now a household name and face on a global scale, he didn't melt under intense media scrutiny, his kid-next-door image came across as genuine and likeable, and he's almost certain to be a force in the 2012 London Games. Look for him next on Kellogg's cereal boxes, every talk show and awards show, congratulatory ads, commemorative merchandise, a swimming tour, maybe even going to Disneyland. It wouldn't be surprising to see Phelps boost his earnings in endorsements, merchandise deals, appearance fees and the like to as much as $50 million in the next year. His body is perfect for grooming products, or fashion brands, his ears belong in an iPod campaign or Q-Tip demo, and his prodigious appetite qualifies him for McDonald's -- ideally sinking his teeth into a new Phelps Phish sandwich. Add his surprisingly entertaining mom Debbie to the picture, and you've got the perfect pair to bring new life to Campbell's Chunky Soup campaign. But as big as Phelps has become, he still won't be able to take swimming out of the realm of a once-every-four-years sport. So how can Michael stay in the public eye until 2012? There's always "Dancing With the Stars," "Survivor" (in a location with lots of swimming challenges), a "Life With Mike" reality show, or maybe even "Aquaman, The Movie." But icons don't come cheap. If you really want Phelps, you'd better be thinking globally, long term (at least a four-year deal), and in the seven- or even eight-figure range.


--Usain Bolt Bolt came out of nowhere -- with astonishing speed -- to nearly steal the Games from Michael Phelps. The Terrell Owens of track, his showmanship is a refreshing change from the stiff, toe-the-line intensity of other Olympic athletes. And that Jamaican accent is always fun to hear. Bolt's performance has already earned him a major endorsement offer from British cable company Virgin Media, and he certainly qualifies to pitch any product or service built for speed -- from Porsche to fast food to fast-actin' Tinactin.

--Shawn Johnson She didn't win the all-around gold, but Johnson has a slight edge over teammate Nastia Liukin in marketability, largely due to her all-American looks and Mary Lou Retton-esque appeal. Only 16, the fresh-faced Iowan will likely be competing again in London in 2012, and is a solid choice for any marketer to young women, particularly in categories like cosmetics, skin and hair care, fashion, or anything related to health & fitness. Or how about Johnson and Liukin together -- flipping, vaulting and tumbling over each other to be first into a sale at Target?

--Nastia Liukin Liukin won the most important gold medal (the all-around championship), is more lithe and graceful than Johnson, has a dad/coach who also won Olympic gold, and carries a solid endorsement résumé. Like Johnson, she should be a major factor in the 2012 Games, and appeals to the same young female demographic. Footage of her texting her mom after she won gold would make a compelling AT&T spot, or feature her alongside her dad Valeri, sharing a bottle of Advil to ease their assorted aches and pains.

--Dara Torres At 41, the oldest swimmer to medal in Olympics history. An inspirational and compelling choice for any advertiser with a "You're never too old to be great" message. And as a mom, Torres is also well-suited to pitch family cars, educational toys and games, or kids' food and drink. The extremely talkative Torres might also work well for T-Mobile, trying to talk her way into Charles Barkley's Fave 5.


--Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor Gold-medal beach volleyballers got loads of prime time exposure, and are now household names, faces and bodies. Along with pitching any beach-related product, their plans to start families make them good choices to spike sales for Huggies, Gerber or Johnson's baby shampoo.

--Natalie Coughlin The first U.S. female swimmer to win six medals in a single Olympics, Coughlin's spectacular smile and attractive face make her ideal for any dental care product or cosmetic -- waterproof, of course.

--Ryan Lochte Lost out to buddy Phelps in the medals department, but wins in the looks department. Possesses an easy-going, surfer-dude appeal, and his resemblance to a young Sean Penn can't hurt. Ryan's right on for Abercrombie & Fitch, Hanes underwear, Axe deodorant, or any other body-revealing campaign.

--Bryan Clay Could this gold medal winning decathlete be the next Bruce Jenner? He's good looking, well-chiseled and comfortable on camera, but lacks the buzz of a Phelps or Bolt -- partly because the decathlon is no longer the marquee event it once was. Yet Clay is worthy endorser for any product offering strength, toughness and versatility -- from Dodge Trucks to Black & Decker power tools. And don't be surprised to see Clay on a Wheaties box near you. Clay's Hawaiian heritage also qualifies him for Mauna Loa macadamia nuts, Hawaiian Airlines or fruit juicy Hawaiian Punch.

--Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers Beach volleyball gold medalists benefited from heavy prime time exposure -- particularly the 6'9" bald-headed Dalhausser, whose imposing presence could earn him a villain role in the next James Bond film.

--Jason Lezak His anchor leg in the 4x100 free relay saved Michael Phelps a million bucks, and could be the most watched highlight from the Beijing Games. Put him in a Geico ad, showing Phelps how to save big on his car insurance.

--Cullen Jones Only the second African-American swimmer from the U.S. to win a gold medal, Jones is good-looking, articulate and very appealing in the "Thanks, Mom" TV spot for Johnson's baby shampoo. Cool name, too. Another medal or two in 2012 would help his marketing fortunes, but Jones has a solid future as a model, actor, motivational speaker and role model for young African-American swimmers with Olympian ambitions.

--Aaron Peirsol Only if you can't afford Phelps dollars.

--Ian Crocker See Aaron Peirsol.

--Jennie Finch The most famous member of the U.S. women's softball team, Finch's résumé includes making People Magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People" list, being voted "World's Sexiest Athlete" in an poll, and winning a gold medal in Athens. But Beijing's silver was a stunning disappointment, and her sport has been dropped from the Olympics roster. Still, Finch has fared well in broadcasting, and has real star power that could move merchandise for MAC cosmetics, her own fashion line, or any product that shows off her beautiful blonde locks.

--Jonathan Horton The only U.S. men's gymnast to win an individual medal. Put him in an ad with cheering fans and title it "Horton Hears A Whoo-Hoo."

--Raj Bhavsar Made the U.S. gymnastics team as a sub when Paul Hamm withdrew due to injury. Of possible interest to Subway.

--Mariel Zagunis Owns two gold medals, but there's not much point in using a fencer in advertising.

--Rebecca Soni Great name for any Sony product.

--Lopez Lomong Lost Boy of Sudan overcame great adversity to become the U.S. flag-bearer in the opening ceremonies. Inspiring story for a book, TV movie or motivational speaking tour.

--Henry Cejudo Son of undocumented Mexican immigrants overcame great adversity to win wrestling gold. Inspiring story for a book, TV movie or motivational speaking tour.

--Eric Shanteau Swimmer competed in Beijing just weeks after learning he has testicular cancer. Inspiring story for a book, TV movie or motivational speaking tour.

--Natalie du Toit South African amputee swam in the 10K marathon swimming event, finishing a respectable 16th. Inspiring story for a book, TV movie or motivational speaking tour.

--Stephanie Brown-Trafton Surprise gold medalist in discus could possibly swing a deal with Frisbee. The 6' 4", 225-lb. athlete idolizes Mary Lou Retton; the two would make a visually striking pair in a TV commercial, sharing a Coke and a smile

--The Lopez Family Siblings Steven, Mark and Diana all medaled in taekwondo. Event received minimal TV coverage, but the trio's fluency in Spanish could help kick up sales in the Hispanic market.

--Stephanie Rice Lovely Australian swimmer is rumored to have gotten very tight with Michael Phelps during the Games. Good career move if she harbors any hope of breaking into U.S. advertising.

--Guo Jingjing Lovely Chinese diver is her nation's most famous female athlete. Has made over $3 million in marketing deals in China, and could possibly break through in America as a model, actress or cosmetics spokesperson. Should consider dating Michael Phelps to up her visibility.

--Jenn Stuczynski Took up pole vaulting just four years ago, and still won silver in Beijing. Name could be a challenge for marketers, though.

--Bela Karolyi Not always sure what he's saying, but his passion is undeniable. Put any product in his hand and let him rant and rave over it for 30 seconds.

--Amanda Beard Didn't come close to a medal, but as long as she keeps up the nude posing, who cares. Should have a fruitful career in broadcasting, modeling, and/or softcore films.

--Debbie Phelps Michael's mom got loads of camera time, was always fun to watch, and has an inspirational story to tell. Already helping Johnson & Johnson and Chico's boost sales, and could do good things for any product with a "Mom knows best" ad message.

--U.S. Men's Basketball Team Headed for certain gold, and doing everything right along the way. LeBron James continues on his path to world domination, while Kobe Bryant -- a polarizing figure at home -- may have found that his most receptive marketing demographic is overseas.

--U.S. Women's Soccer Team Won gold without any star power whatsoever. Will need a strong showing in the World Cup and 2012 Olympics to make an impression with consumers.

--U.S. Women's Basketball Team Should win gold for the fourth consecutive Olympics -- but will anyone in America notice?

--U.S. BMX Cycling Team Can't tell them apart with all the helmets and body padding, but they'd make a highly entertaining Coke commercial, racing for the last bottle.

--Chinese Women Gymnasts A fun bunch for any cosmetics ad talking to women who lie about their age.

--Gymnastics Judges Good choice for any manufacturer of calculators.


--Tyson Gay America's biggest disappointment of the Games, Gay pulled a hammy in the trials and missed qualifying for the 200 meters, didn't qualify for the 100 meter final in Beijing, then was part of a botched baton pass in the 4x100 relay. Good choice for a Southwest Airlines "Wanna get away?" spot.

--Jeremy Wariner Tough to call a silver medalist a loser, but the Athens 400 meter gold medalist expected to repeat in Beijing, and even had his own 24 Hour Fitness commercial running heavily during the Games. Apparently, Wariner's fitness needs more work.

--Paul and Morgan Hamm Gymnasts featured prominently in pre-Games marketing, but neither made it to Beijing due to injury. Good example of why banking on Olympic athletes can be risky.

--Katie Hoff Expected to challenge for gold in six events, but only earned a silver and two bronzes. The look on her face after each race was probably exhaustion, but it looked more like shock.

--Alicia Sacramone Crucial mistakes cost her team a gymnastics gold medal, yet somehow upped her popularity. Still, do you want to link your product with someone best remembered for falling down on the job?

--Allyson Felix Has the talent, looks and charisma, but is still missing a gold medal.

--Nick Symmonds Looks like Brad Pitt. Ran like Brad Garrett.

--Pau Gasol First he offended Laker fans with his performance in the NBA Finals, then offended the Chinese with his racist Olympic team photo.

--Lolo Jones Heartbreaking hurdle stumble cost her a gold medal. But if any advertiser wants to run a campaign featuring gracious losers, the attractive and appealing Jones should be at the top of the list.

--Matt Emmons For the second straight Olympics, shooter Emmons lost a gold medal with a stunning mistake on his final attempt. In Athens he shot at the wrong target; in Beijing his rifle went off accidentally. Probably not the best choice for a Remington or NRA campaign.

--Lu Xiang China's most popular athlete let down 1.3 billion fans when he pulled out of his hurdles event due to injury. The collective tears that resulted would make a fine Kleenex moment.

--Ara Abrahamian This Swedish wrestler threw down his bronze medal in disgust after disputing a judge's call. Would you dare let him handle your product?

--U.S. Boxing Team No marketing punch whatsoever.

--U.S. 4x100 Relay Teams Dropped batons could qualify them for a Krazy Glue ad.

By Paul Farhi  |  August 23, 2008; 3:34 AM ET
Previous: NBC News Responds | Next: Homestretch: Sex, Tattoos and Other Naked Truths


Please email us to report offensive comments.

"And that Jamaican accent is always fun to hear.": so says Bob Dorfman. You sound incredibly xenophobic here. I mean you totally deny the fact that Jamaican Sunshine came to these Olympics as noted in thousands of Boltmania articles to hit the internet and video. Usain is beyond an accent and to try to box him into some smaller than Phelps box tells me you just don't get it. EVERYBODY WANTS TO GO TO JAMAICA NOW. Just watch Puma's Chasing Bolt video series all over the net. Of course he can sell, what's wrong with your thinking? Oh, I know, you have water in your ears you condescending know nothing.

Posted by: Susan | August 23, 2008 7:04 AM

These are hysterical.

And on another note, I'm desperate for someone to tell the people at NBC that there's an annoyting echo on their set in Beijing during the Today show. Did they send all that personnel over, but no sound techs?

Posted by: Kay | August 23, 2008 7:17 AM

Yes, he can, and he will. The guy has talent, attitude (right for his age) and charisma.

Posted by: Sandy | August 23, 2008 7:33 AM

I feel that the best athlete in the Olympics is Usain "Lightning" Bolt from Jamaica. Bolt is now the world's fastest man as he ran the 100 meter in 9.69 seconds. That's a world record. The crazy part is, Bolt celebrated the last 20 meters.Many people would say that Phelps has 8 gold medals while Bolt only has 3. Well I'm sure if they had a bunch of different running techniques from the same distance that Bolt would win all of those. Heck, we already know he would beat everyone pounding his chest and high stepping his way to the finish line.

Posted by: Lopez | August 23, 2008 8:07 AM

Michael Phelps stole this Olympics. He swam his way through 17 races and won 8 gold. Sure, it might be easier to get gold medals in swimming, but has anyone won as many as him? So, i think he is mega-marketable. Honestly, he is part of history. Not to mention, he has the mama boy and cute, sincere guy that every girl wishes to fall in love with look. Usain Bolt is good, but, reflecting on his manners... I mean, sure, when you are good, you can afford to celebrate and not compete completely. However, that is a complete disrespect to the rest of the athletes that are running their heart out. Just wait until you cross the line, respect others. They worked hard too. I think the way he completely disregarded the other runners made me lose all respect and admiration for what he's done. Thus, I believe he has no future in the advertising area. I mean, I know that I would never support a product he endorses.

Posted by: Annie | August 23, 2008 9:51 AM

The greatest highlight of this entire Olympic games goes beyond the gold medals... and that is Usain Bolt igniting athletes to be true to themselves. He has brought a refreshingly authentic joy to the athletic world. His exuberance, "roots" nature and infectious smile have lifted the heavy cloak of "oppresive correctness" opening the door to sponteneity and pure love of the games...
Note to all, we Jamaicans above all things love to dance and sing. These traits have kept our spirit alive since the dark days of slavery. What you see in Bolt's actions is inherently Jamaican. It is that same spirit that created the indominable and legendery rebellious music of Bob Marley. Keep on dancing Usain and big up all Jamaicans as we forever live the Dance...

Posted by: nerakami | August 23, 2008 10:17 AM

Why is it it when ever the USA is not in the race or win gold it's a problem...I bet if Usain was A UAS althea he would be love by all...but because he's from a small Island that no one ever consider would produce such talent everyone's mad...stop hating on the man and let him celebrate his victory anyway he choose...he was dancing for God’s sake...that's how Jamaican celebrate take ten minutes and research Jamaican traditions and see we have yearly dancing contest to see who dances the best...he merely show the world a Jamaican thing...The writer of this article forgot to mention that Usain generously donated $50,000.00 US dollars to help out the tragic that happen in China this year...where's the good job Usain helping out others...Leave him alone...let him be...Go Usain all the Jamaican’s are cheering for you...Just know that in life there will always be haters no matter what you choose to do in life...

Posted by: Natalee | August 23, 2008 11:02 AM

Usain Bolt is the star of Beijing Olympics a very, very long margin.
The 100m is the most basic, primal, fundamental event of any Olympics. It's not swimming,(sorry Michael), its not cycling, its not gymnastics or basketball or whatever...all those events are superfluous when compared to the primal core of the 100m. It's programmed into our DNA to be in awe of the world's fastest man.
And nobody in Olympic history has ever won it in such a transcendental manner as Usain Bolt. This man from Jamaica won it so joyously, so nonchalantly...for goodness sake, he didn't tie his left shoelaces properly!!
I've been regaling my non sporting friends about Bolt's 100 m performance...and we've all laughed ourselves silly.They're all now dying to see the video! Bolt has brought joy, laughter, comedy, and disbeliving awe to my circle of friends and I'm sure to everyone else in the world. This combo of elements is beyond rare!!!.
If you're talking advertising, Bolt engages our emotions in a way Phelps just can't compete. Bolt a silver? Are you guys mad?
America, listen...the star of Beijing 2008 is not an American. Can you get over that? Can you even bring yourselves to admit it? Its Bolt. Lightning Bolt.

Posted by: carol | August 23, 2008 12:24 PM

Leave Bolt alone ,he has brought joy to millions not only Jamaicans and he is yong do not curb his natural style-learn the dance!

Posted by: Clive | August 23, 2008 12:58 PM

This wasn't an accurate marketing potential description of Johnson and Liukin at all. Target?? For Liukin? No way! She's a high-end girl, and everyone knows that. Fashion for Johnson?? No way on that one either. She's short and muscular and won't look that great in full-length photos of clothes. Johnson would be great for family-oriented things, like Disney. Liukin for communications and beauty products.

Posted by: Alex | August 23, 2008 1:03 PM

Usain is gold one million times over, he is engagiging, charismatic, young gifted, A STAR HAS BEN BORN! Lets celebrate him, thanks Bolt for giving back to China, a country which has embraced him, he has eclipsed micheal phelps. nbc, america, get over that phelps was your money -makier, now usain has taken over and you cant accept that a no- american has done this, people all over the world celebrate, the non--traditional, underdogs, Bolt is a hero a star, a true atlete, phenomenal, phelps cant complete, move bolt to gold, if he was an American that is where you would have placed hm, he ios niot but poor countries can compete with the world despite lack of resources, they have guts, and drive abd above all warmth abd personality, that is what others do not understand bolt is a human being, inspiring others to do the best and enjoy what they do, the greates athlete the world had ever seen comes from a little country with lots of problems, but he showed the world how poor underprivileged people survive, showin personality, this is not show boating,, this is life.

Posted by: tiffanie sterling | August 23, 2008 1:27 PM

Usain Bolt was my favorite part of the Olympics. Here is one talented man who actually looked like he has some fun and enjoyed himself. He has a great smile, and he even made friends with runners outside of his own country. Now that is a true winner who showed camaraderie.

Posted by: Kat | August 23, 2008 1:31 PM

My opinions as a Chinese person is that Phelps have demonstrated common courtesy. Surely, the rest of the world are not familiar with Jamaica's traditions... that's why Bolt's actions can be misinterpreted, so of all the international tournaments, Bolt should have followed general rules of conduct especially on the track where billions of people from non-Jamaican origins [for example, Chinese] follow. Otherwise, people will think he has no respect for the other runners. As for the advertising gold, if Bolt cannot sell in America. Then, where is he going to earn money? Jamaica? Probably. It is no surprise that NBC and Americans are patriotic. Only traitors aren't. So, don't be shocked when [and surely] Phelps outsell Bolt. Personality [or demonstration of personality traits] is just as crucial for advertisers as talent. Do remember that.

Posted by: Ian Yan | August 23, 2008 1:50 PM

Man. People are worked up . Well, Phelps did start to learn Mandarin 6 months before the Olympics even began. He visited a centre for special children to teach them swimming. All in all, charity work in Beijing and the consistency he has maintained is fantastic. I don't know if I could go without a vacation in 9 years. But, he's done it. 5 days of rest in more than 2500 days. i just gotta say, he's been impressing. And added to his 17 olympics medals are 18 world championships golds. He's been real consistent, that's my take. He would be a good guy to invest in. He doesn't disappoint, does he? My hero right there. All these years. Ever since Athens. He's taught me more than anything to believe, work hard, never give up, and work together well with teammates. You just might need them. Respect man respect!

Posted by: Andre Gonzalez | August 23, 2008 2:08 PM

Bolt has charisma and appeal. He is great for the sport of track & field. I am sure he will make millions in England, Japan, China, and even the US as soon as you guys get over your grudgefullness.

Posted by: jcandiva | August 23, 2008 2:12 PM

All sports are great but each with a diffrent appreciation of acceptance, Michael did very well ,the best at his game also Usain performed well in his sport . Wish them well helping them towards the next level in thier lives, this is where many athletes faulter.

Posted by: Mark | August 23, 2008 2:32 PM

Usain has brought a breath of fresh air to the Olympic Games. As a born Jamaican and a resident of the USA I would like to congratulate Usain wholeheartedly. He has broken the World Record in both the 100m and 200m. He deserves the reward he earned. Some people despised the fact that he ended his 100m in a joyous celebration. I firmly believe he was innocently celebrating his victory and not disrespecting his fellow competetors. Let's give him a break.Forgive him for not acting the expected norm. He is young and can certainly learn from his mistakes. Let's give him the moment he richly deserves.

Posted by: Clara Campbell | August 23, 2008 3:29 PM

phelps did well at the olympics but usain stole the show. i believe he innocently celebrated. so what! get over it! i know it sucks when an american isn't in the limelight. now the playing field is level and everyone gets a chance to show and prove to the world their potential. no one complained about maurice greene's wagging tongue whenever he competed, or even when crawford and gatlin show boated together. why complain now? one can argue that usain could have celebrated differently but are you in his shoes? guess what? he's a young man, let him enjoy himself. after all. none of the athletes aren't complaining. jamaica to the world!!!

Posted by: jayson | August 23, 2008 4:09 PM

i know it must suck to be an american and not see your athletes winning gold on the track. soory to say but americans seem to have been drug mules. now they are under the radar. imagine if this balco issue had broken several years earlier. i wonder who the true winners would have been. certainly not the americans!

Posted by: vince | August 23, 2008 4:14 PM

Micahel Phelps is great no doubt but the real champion is Usain Bolt...

Posted by: Samina Hayaat | August 23, 2008 5:21 PM

Phelps would definitely be more marketable in U.S., but Bolt would be more marketable in worldwide (minus U.S.). Track & Field especially 100m, 200m and 4x400 m are the icons of Olympics - that's what most of the people would watch (outside of U.S.). Swimming is just not as popular.

Phelps is like Willie Nelson or Johnny Cash - American Country. Bolt is like Bob Marley or Peter Tosh - Reggae. Contry music is probably more popular and sold more records in U.S., but when it comes to worldwide, Reggae music is so much more popular.

Posted by: LK | August 23, 2008 6:44 PM

Shawn Johnson is such an extraordinary person and athelete, whose insight, generosity, and spirit transcend her age. I admire her and would buy just about any product that she endorses.

Posted by: erin | August 23, 2008 8:17 PM

USA 250 million consumers and declining affluence. China and India combined 2 billion and increasing affluence. Ask yourself who appeals more to the Chinese and Indians, who is the more marketable brand globally, Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps. Do I need to spell it out, or has it just flowed naturally off your lips? Thought so.

Posted by: Steve | August 23, 2008 9:03 PM

Congrats to Usain Bolt. Let the man celebrate the way he want. The people that are critisising the guy don't know anything about him. Here is a guy from a little place in Jamaica, that's on everyone television. They don't know what the guy has been through. Jamaican are people that love to have fun. everyone think that he disrespect the other athlete and his country by celebrating but the funny thing is the other athletes aren't complaining. The entire country of Jamaica was celebrationg and acting the same way bolt was. That who we are a country of pride. don't hate- congratullate.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 23, 2008 9:26 PM

"Cullen Jones... is ... articulate" - omg. That's so rude. Everyone knows when a black person is called "articulate" that means "gosh! I wasn't expecting correct English grammar to come out of your mouth!". I'm not even black and my jaw dropped when I read that. You never hear a white person described at "articulate"!

Posted by: sc | August 23, 2008 9:44 PM

Nastia and Shawn (along with Alicia) were already CoverGirls, so that's the makeup deal, and Nastia has an AT&T endorsement, so that's another one mentioned. The U.S.

Posted by: nn | August 23, 2008 11:03 PM

What Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps achieved in Beijing was truly remarkable. They should be celebrated for what they are, truly great and inspirational sportsmen.

As to whether comparisons should be made?
Why not?

As to whether one's achievment is in any way greater than the other?

It matters not!

We should embrace them both and wish them all the very best for the future.

There has been talk of Usain Bolt disrespecting his fellow competitors. Absolute nonsense.

I witnessed nothing but a display of youthful exhuberance after a truly electrifying performance from the Lightning BOLT.

Posted by: Patrick UK | August 23, 2008 11:31 PM

I will buy anythig Shawn Johnson sell, and i dont even care if it works or if i need it.

Posted by: cela | August 23, 2008 11:53 PM

As usual, many Americans write and think from a a very egocentric perspective. It's easy to see why Phelps is considered over Bolt. The truth is.... swimming is not that popular a sport... even in the US. Bolt will be a hit for years to come in Asia, Europe, and the rest of the world outside the US. Phelps?... not so much!

Posted by: Michael | August 24, 2008 1:08 AM

I wonder why you did not include yelena yesebaeya`s name in the list.With her great looks and performance she can be a great material for endorsing all over the world.

Posted by: bobby,india | August 24, 2008 1:27 AM

Paul Farhi is possibly a dumb fcuk. Why can't achievements of Americans be great without necessarily being the greatest. Phelps did phenomenally but the truth is swimming does not have the global following that track events have. So maybe Phelps will have greater appeal in the US but cannot compare to Bolts appeal outside the U.S. and in case Paul has forgotten, the U.S. economy right now is not the most well-heeled in the world, so being a marketable entity in the U.S. (i.e. being Phelps) does not hold a fart to being a world marketable product (i.e. Bolt). Not put that in your glass Dick Chenney and smoke it.

Posted by: tawdry schleps | August 24, 2008 2:52 AM

So, he's good. But, can he sell? If you all argue so hard to get people off his back and trying to fight his innocence. Then, you are believing that people will not buy and his products will not sell. Advertising is more about inspiring, putting believe in someone and associating the products with those feelings. Is he able to do that? Is he capable? He might have done exceedingly well and that's important to get medals, but selling products is a whole other area. It's hard to predict. I think it'll probably depend on which companies and products offer them a deal to sponsor them to decide who'll earn more. Course, TV movies, books, commercials, TV appearances on ESPN, NBC, is crucial. Like I know many of my friends haven't even watched the Olympics so they know nothing about what either has achieved. Thus, it will heavily depend on how they will keep themselves in the spotlight. Or people will forget. Worse, they will never know.

Posted by: Erin | August 24, 2008 8:57 AM

olympics is not an commercial event and your comment about selling and earning power of an athlete is absurd . fail to understand why you only think in the terms of mighty dollar/ euro??




Posted by: red pepper | August 24, 2008 10:21 AM

Usain Bolt is a MAN that I have never seen on the international athletic arena. His charisma, charm and friendliness make him far more MARKETABLE than Michael Phelps.Not to discredit him but Charisma and The RIGHT ATTITUDE (Which THE BOLT has) play a HUGE role in marketing. Besides, people in general have fallen in love with his Character (The first of his kind on the international Olympic stage). And relating to your target market using these assets is paramount in business.

More People will be able to relate to a guy like Usain Bolt.

Also, unfortunately for Phelps, I hear Guo JingJing is engaged to a super wealthy Chinese Businessman from Hong Kong. Sorry Michael! I have to admit, She is a stunner!

Posted by: gpk40 | August 24, 2008 5:38 PM

Bolt is much more marketable than Phelps. He has a worldwide appeal, something Phelps does not have. I am not from America so, from an outside viewpoint, I can tell you that I would much rather see Bolt on my cereal box than Phelps. I am sure if Bolt were an American, he would've been top of your list. Also, Bolt's accent is so far from Jamaican I don't understand why it's so "fun to hear." He sounds more American to me. Fact is, Bolt "owned" the olympics, Phelps just "owned" swimming.

Posted by: Bella | August 24, 2008 7:33 PM

Usain Bolt has worldwide appeal, but because he is not American he is not considered worthy typically ignorant and xenophobic......Bolt is the fastest man in the world and has enormous charisma to go with all that Americans need to broaden your horizons and get over the fact you are no longer the number one when it comes to the track and have been beaten by China for the most Gold medals by a long way.....btw I'm an Aussie!

Posted by: sarah | August 25, 2008 4:33 AM

I like Phelps attitude. He's a truly good person in the heart it seems but Bolt is way ahead. No surprise Phelps got the gold over Bolt from an American perspective. How about by a world's perspective? NBC knew Bolt was competition for Phelps as far as marketing is concerned so obviously they along with other rotten apples decided to go the low route to try to put him in his place.

Won't Work!

I think Jamaica has a more compelling story where Bolt will most likely get book deals if so desire. The reason is, history and where a country is represented as underdogs as far as sports value is concerned. Need I say more?

Not really! Most of the world knows the US but can you say the same thing about a small island magical in every way? No, and thats why he'll be more marketable, because he's now introducing it on the world stage.

BTW-Jamaica to the flipin world!!!

Posted by: Al | August 25, 2008 11:59 AM

You all believe hating America and in association, Michael Phelps. It just shows how biased you all are. America is a powerful country and you are all just jealous, and underrating Phelps' performance at the last few Olympics is unfair. MP created history and dazzled the world since 2003. He's worked hard, his work ethnic and morals are more incredible than anything else. Think about this: His mom even got a deal with Johnson&Johnson and Chico's [a clothing store] and he's got another book deal, and various merchandise [e.g. posters] already out. So, who's winning? Phelps or a non-existent track&field-er. Even Bryan Clay is receiving more deals than Bolt so far. Thus, why are you all arguing? It's crystal clear who the real winner is. Phelps Phans are already out purchasing his stuff. They're much too busy to argue about this. I am just stating the facts and stop all this. YAY MICHAEL! The winner has been declared. =D. If even watch TV, any talk shows, or browse the stores/surf the net, you'll see. No need to discuss this further. Just look around you. Open up your eyes. And you'll see.

Posted by: Elaine | August 25, 2008 1:45 PM

Usain Bolt will be a bigger international star than Michael Phelps.

With all his achievements (and they are worthy) Phelps will come across as, an athlete pushed by the American corportate/media machine.

NBC rehaearsed it's Phelps coverage for over a year.

Usain Bolt's reponse was all natural. We liked him, not because he was pushed or marketed on us, but because we liked, and were enthrawled by him.

He's also a great kid. The other athletes love him and emulate him(including various Discus throwers, marathon runners, pole vaulters, and his competitors).

The Chinese fans, even sang him happy birthday twice during competition last week.

You can't buy that type of adulation by your peers, the press and the fans.

Go Lightening Bolt!

Posted by: MSL | August 25, 2008 2:41 PM

PS: Bolt also gave $50,000 cash to the Chinese earthquake victims, and visited many of the injured kids.

He seemed right at home, sincere and loving with those kids.

All his friends and associates say, he's always had a big heart.

I think we have another potential Ali, and Pele on our hands here.

That is the potential appeal for Usain Bolt.

Posted by: MSL | August 25, 2008 2:45 PM

Yep. NBC did rehearse how to broadcast Phelps' success. But, umm... does not just mean that with that much pressure and expectations, he was able to perform AND that NBC believed he would be marketable and he has been? For now, his Olympic DVD has been selling, so has his book. Give credit to him. Bolt is a surprise and exciting to watch. But being able to sell somebody means they have to be in the spotlight a lot and altho Bolt has potential. If not many companies are willing to invest in him, none of the potential will be realized. Honestly, there are pics of Phelps in Beijing already, on walls and ATMs. Do we still need to wonder who the 8th world wonder/star is when Phelps was requested by British fans to go to London and be part of the turnover from Beijing to London. c'MON. Get real. Who's actually be advertised/promoted/being a world superstar. And honestly, America has produced athletes that are world superstars. EX. Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, the William sisters, Tiger Woods and that's just a few. The lure of Phelps to the world is huge. It sure don't hurt that his native country is perhaps the most patriotic country in the world AND loves its own. He deserves recognition and now, the rest of the world, not just America, are giving just that to him. If you saw the closing ceremony and how the British Phelps Phans squealed for him and the host ecstatic to meet him... and acknowledge the fact that in Great Britain, he is also the face of the 29th Olympiad. Because they were the ones who wanted Phelps to fly over there to do the turnover for them. Really, what's the point of discussing this when we all know - deep down, deep deep down - that Phelps is the most marketable. He's certainly been busy and conducting business.

Posted by: Juanita | August 25, 2008 3:19 PM

How can you even compare these two talents?
They are both amazing and without hesitation we have all been lucky to watch their performances. If Bolt wants to celebrate by doing kart-wheels... who are we to say this is wrong....If Phelps wants to jump around and slap the water in the pool who are we to say this is wrong...

Celebrate anyway you want to... your the best in the world!

Posted by: Valley Boy | August 25, 2008 3:45 PM

With the most fans on Facebook, overtaking the Jonas Brothers, Tiger Woods, Obama, and everyone else... he's definitely in!!! Just the excerpt from his Facebook note.

"You guys are awesome. So many people went to check out the hats and t-shirts that the site for them crashed! It's up again but sorry about that.

Also, check out the poster going out today from SI. There is a link to it now on the FB Page, but just in case you guys kill that site too, here's a phone number 1-800-544-5239.

More pics soon. - MP "

HE IS AWESOME! And omg totally hot!

Posted by: Annie | August 25, 2008 7:45 PM

"Well, the biggest star of the Beijing Olympics is the American swimming sensation MP. He earned himself the title of the greatest Olympian ever with 8 swimming golds in Beijing. Yeah, that made 14 golds in total," says BBC.

Posted by: Tania | August 25, 2008 8:25 PM

jeremy wariner is not a loser u idiot

Posted by: vici | August 26, 2008 5:08 AM

BOLT saved track and field with an extraordinary performance that was electrifying and that made him an instant legend. He is now world famous and without the maudlin "mom & pop" marketing interviews in prime-time, he did it the old-fashioned way, mind-blowing unimagined excellence, so...8 medals vs. genuine "shock & awe", NO ONE expected his accomplishments except the inner track world who were NOT suprised.

Posted by: JamaicanMan | August 26, 2008 3:52 PM

Ian Miller, Canada's Olympic equestrian won his first ever medal, a silver, in his 9TH Olympics in Beijing(like WOW). If he had won 2 medals in each of his appearances would HE then be the GREATEST EVER, or maybe his HORSE LOL, quantity of medals does NOT the greatest make, NOT the greatest ANYTHING except NUMBER of medals. With all due respect I would not consider 50 Gold medals in air pistol better than Phelps total of Golds nor Plelps total qualifying him as best ever.

Posted by: MyPOV | August 26, 2008 4:04 PM

It is ironic that the headline that has attracted so may to this column includes the name "Bolt". Your headline answers your question. . .in the affirmative.

Posted by: Carlene from Jamaica | August 26, 2008 10:58 PM

your stupid and selfcentred to put bolt at silver. bolt is the best anyone have ever seen iin the sprints bolt is more marketable. bolt is the Best thing to happen to the olympics.

Posted by: damion | August 27, 2008 12:59 PM

your american minded and anti jamaican.

Posted by: damion | August 27, 2008 1:00 PM

if your headline had said phelps i doubt you would get so many comments or so many people interested in your article. its all because of "lightning bolt" everyone wants to meet him,know him and be him he is a legend.

Posted by: damion | August 27, 2008 1:04 PM

If Usain is on it...I'm buying it! Phelps, who?

Posted by: Blair | August 27, 2008 6:03 PM

I think Phelps will get huge endorsements in the US, but Bolt will get get very big endorsements outside the US. As a comparison Bolt has the name and charisma for Madison Ave. Phelps has the medals and history. Bolt definitly stole the show and its no wonder that NBC showed the 100m at 11:30 on Saturday night!!! Note to NBC the 100m is the glamour event of the Olympics!!! It just amazes me the amount of talent that is in Jamaica not only in athletics but other sports and fields.

Posted by: tony | August 28, 2008 1:29 PM

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