Usain Bolt: How the world’s fastest man built a business empire
Usain Bolt is more than a veteran Olympic star. He’s a brand — a track and field icon with an international following.
Bolt, who is Jamaican, has deals with Puma, Nissan, Hublot, Visa, Virgin Media and Japan’s All Nippon Airways. There’s also Optus, an Australian telecommunications company, and Enertor, which sells sports insoles.
Gatorade named a drink after him. Bolt, known as the fastest man in the world, has trademarked his name and his signature “Lightning Bolt” pose. He even has an emoji.
But in Rio, he’s competing in what he has said will be his last Olympics.
What’s next for Usain Bolt?
“He’s talked about playing for Manchester United, being a broadcaster and designing apparel à la Michael Jordan,” says Elizabeth Lindsey, a marketing expert at Wasserman.
Bolt holds the 100- and 200-meter world records, has been to four Olympics, and has seven gold medals to his name.
Jeff Kearney, the head of Gatorade’s sports marketing department, explained Bolt’s appeal.
“We have an incredible roster of great athletes across a number of sports, who resonate in many markets and are each unique in their own way,” Kearney said. “But Usain’s joyful personality paired with his overall dominance in a sport most people can relate to, results in an athlete who provides brands like Gatorade with true global reach.”
His vivacious and engaging demeanor is so appealing to U.S. brands that the Jamaican runner even stars in U.S.-based Olympic ads opposite members of Team USA.
Bolt “has been fantastic for the entertainment value” of the sport, says a USA Track & Field spokesman, in addition to what he’s done for the record books.
“American track & field fans love watching him as much as fans from other countries do.”
Bolt may know his worth, but he also gives back through his Jamaica-based foundation, which aims to help kids.
In 2015, Bolt gave $1.3 million to his former high school along with soccer and cricket gear. He’s provided the school with track and field equipment since he signed with Puma in 2002.
Bolt opened a multi-sport playing field in Jamaica, raised funds for pediatric cardiac surgeries and partnered with Samsung to provide photography workshops to students.
He even paid for a $4 million renovation to a local health center using the proceeds from a party he threw to celebrate breaking the 100-meter world record.
Bolt is still pursuing gold medals in the 200-meter race and the 4×100 meter team relay in Rio.
And he’s heading into retirement with a bang.
He has an online store where he sells sporting goods and Usain Bolt-branded gear and he recently announced the launch of his company, Champion Shave, which sells 6-blade razors at discounted prices.