Michael Phelps Million Dollar Mazda Sponsorship in China

Posted by: Frederik Balfour on January 08, 2009

Chalk up another new record set by U.S. swimming sensation Michael Phelps. The winner of eight Olympic gold medals at last summer’s games is returning to Beijing this month as part of a seven figure endorsement deal with carmaker Mazda, reportedly the largest sum ever earned by a western celebrity. It’s hard to say for sure, since seven figures ranges from $1 million to $9,999,999. But at the very least, he is averaging $250,000 per medal from the Mazda deal alone. If you add up all the millions he’s raking in from other sponsorship deals elsewhere, such as Kelloggs Frosted Flakes, Speedo, Visa, Powerbar and Omega watches, he’s already got about $50 million salted away in his swim bag. Not bad for a guy who says he really only feels comfortable when he’s in the pool. I guess Mazda will be using some state-of-art underwater cameras. But on second thought, Phelps has demonstrated some screen potential. I caught him when he hosted Saturday Night Live just weeks after his Beijing medal haul, and was surprised at how well he managed his lines.

Speaking of television, Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang and Houston Rockets star Yao Ming shared a Coke during a nationwide CCTV broadcast on New Years Eve. Blogsite Danwei.org points out that the video which aired on the TV broadcast was filmed earlier at a party thrown by Coca-Cola and Dragon TV in Shanghai. It looks like Coke has kept good on its promise to stand by Liu, who was forced to pull out of the games because of an injury.

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BusinessWeek’s team of Asia reporters brings you the latest insights on business, politics, technology and culture from some of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing economies. Eye on Asia’s bloggers include Asia regional editor Bruce Einhorn, Tokyo reporter Ian Rowley, Korea bureau chief Moon Ihlwan, Asia News Editor and China Bureau Chief. Dexter Roberts, and Hong Kong-based Asia correspondent Frederik Balfour.

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