Nadia Comaneci and Mark Spitz are endorsing Botox. The soccer player Julie Foudy is promoting Cabot cheese and Kleenex, and the track star Jackie Joyner-Kersee is working with Medco, the health benefits manager. One swimmer, Janet Evans, is with John Hancock insurance, while another, Josh Davis, is with Mutual of Omaha.
The Olympics are not just moneymakers for the current athletes, but for former ones as well. Even for the alumni, the ability to cash in on one's former fame peaks every four years, because corporate sponsors prefer to work with athletes when their signature sports are in the news.
"My husband and I plan everything around the Olympics," said Evans, who earned gold medals at the 1988 and 1992 Games. She is working with the swimsuit maker Speedo, the Canola Council (a trade group for canola growers), the health care firm Johnson & Johnson and John Hancock.
"We planned our wedding around the '04 Olympics; we planned our little girl being born at the end of '06, when '07 wasn't as busy," Evans added. "My husband teases me, we plan in quadrenniums," she said, using the International Olympic Committee's term for four-year periods.
....Many retired Olympians make a living out of their former glory, giving motivational speeches and making appearances for corporations. As time passes, the less picky they can be about opportunities.
....The corporations that spend millions to sponsor the Olympics hold plenty of events during the Games for their clients and employees, and the presence of former Olympians adds some glitter.
"They seem to resonate because they let us almost escape to what we believe to have been a better time in sports," said David Carter, executive director of the University of South California's Sports Business Institute.
For the athletes, these appearances are a good way to make thousands for a few hours' work. Evans, for example, gets $5,000 to $15,000 for an appearance, according to her agent, Evan Morgenstein of the Premier Management Group, while the swimmer Rowdy Gaines fetches just under $10,000.