Top American gymnast Simone Biles is seeing nothing but support from her big-name sponsors since she chose to pull out of the team finals and individual all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympics so she can focus on her mental health.
And experts say her sponsorships are only expected to grow from here, noting that Biles could become “a very potent athletic spokeswoman for mental health.”
After the 24-year-old gymnast withdrew from competition at the Olympics, Biles, whose reported net worth is estimated between $6-10 million, “received an outpouring of support from both the public and her sponsors, including Visa, United Airlines, Gap’s Athleta, Core Power, Nabisco and Uber Eats,” a FOX Business report outlined.
Top sports agent Leigh Steinberg told FOX Business that Biles could become “a very potent athletic spokeswoman for mental health.”
“This has been someone who’s been in the public eye for a long time, has a pristine record, and there will be people who think this is her finest moment,” Steinberg said. “Athletic achievement is valuable but helping people deal with life problems is an even greater service and so I think she comes out of this well.”
“She could still be in multiple-hundred-thousand-dollar deals or long-term deals,” he added. “At the height someone could be doing seven-figure deals, but that would be a long-term relationship with a company that would involve television and print ads, social media and all the rest of it.”
CEO of integrated sports marketing and media agency rEvolution John Rowady agreed with Steinberg.
“Rowady sees Biles’ courage as a ‘true watershed moment’ for the world of sports and an opportunity for more mental health companies to be recognized and help raise awareness of ‘mental health issues in sports and beyond,’” the FOX report noted.
“Meditation app Calm, while not an Olympic partner, has been vocal in their support of Simone as well. And Calm has already signed on as a corporate sponsor of the Bucks and Trail Blazers,” Rowady noted.
Entertainment and business law attorney Domenic Romano of Romano Law hit another note, emphasizing that any company choosing to pull sponsorship from Biles could do serious damage to their image.
“Being tone-deaf could anger consumers and fans who are strong supporters and discourage future athletes from pursuing marketing relationships with brands that display insensitivity,” Romano said.
“Whenever you get in a high-stress situation, you kind of freak out. I have to focus on my mental health and not jeopardize my health and well-being,” Biles told reporters after she pulled out of the finals and stunning fans and competitors.
“We have to protect our body and our mind. It just sucks when you’re fighting with your own head.”
“I feel like I’m also not having as much fun — and this Olympic Games I wanted it to be for myself and it felt like I was still doing for other people — and that hurts my heart that doing what I love has been taken away from me.”
“There’s more to life than just gymnastics,” Biles added.
The 24-year-old then made the decision to skip the individual all-around competition, too.
“After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition, in order to focus on her mental health,” a statement from USA Gymnastics said. “Simone will continue to be evaluated daily to determine whether or not to participate in next week’s individual event finals. Jade Carey, who had the ninth highest score in the qualifications, will participate in her place in the all-around.”
“We wholeheartedly support Simone’s decision and applaud her bravery in prioritizing her well-being. Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many.”