September 25,2009

Usain Bolt Close to a $115 Million Sponsorship with Chinese Sports Company

By CSC staff, Shanghai

Even in a world inhabited by such other-worldly talents as Tiger Woods, Kaka, and Lebron James, the unearthly pace set by

Jamaica's Usain Bolt has knocked the world on its ear. And now his business interests may have a chance to do what his competitors on the track cannot, and that is, catch up.


Recently, Ajani Williams, CEO of AMG, Bolt's agent company, said Bolt may sign a sponsorship agreement with an unnamed Chinese firm in the next few weeks. "According to my optimistic estimation, this five-year contract will bring Bolt about $115 million."

Williams said his company has received letters of intent from a number of Chinese companies over the past eight months, and the big contract is one of the two most attractive ones. In addition to a fixed annual sponsorship fee, this enterprise will allow Bolt to become its shareholder. "Part shares of any entity under the enterprise that Bolt likes will be attributed to Bolt." He will also have exclusive distribution rights of the product in domestic and overseas markets.


"According to our conservative estimate, Bolt could earn at least $115 million, and more than $300 million if the product sells well in domestic and global markets," says Williams, meaning that Bolt will get a handsome commission from product sales.


Williams refused to disclose either the name of the company or the field of the product. "The economic crisis is far from over. The negotiation is very difficult, and any substantive information will not be disclosed in advance."


Analysts say a firm providing such a sky-high price for Bolt is likely to be the domestic sports product giant, and may well create an entirely new brand for Bolt.


Compared with the five-year contract of $115 million, Bolt's present annual earnings of around $1.5 million from endorsements are too "cheap." Although the contract has not been signed, and both sides are in intense negotiations, Williams said if the sponsorship deal could be reached, it will completely change Bolt's profile.


 "China is the world's largest market, and consumer groups are no longer the generation 20 years ago who chased Michael Jordan. Bolt now has the opportunity and authority to lead a new generation of track and field athletes and all other athletes and become CEO of his own empire," Williams said. "This contract is sufficient to change the commercial prospect of Bolt himself, and his sponsor's market share."

At present Bolt earns $1.5 million from sporting products each year, and received a check for $1.8 million from a Caribbean telecommunications service provider when he broke the men's 100 meter record last May. His single race appearance fee has jumped from $250,000 at the beginning of the year to $500,000. It is reported that he earns other royalties of $200,000-$400,000 each year from his Chinese-language blog for a portal. This is a nice chunk of change, but the business value he is creating looks to go another planet.

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