Usain Bolt has signed the biggest sponsorship deal in athletics history, extending his contract with Puma to 2013 and catapulting the triple world record holder into the kind of financial terrain usually reserved for star footballers. The exact figure has not been disclosed, but a source close to the deal said the sum is comparable to Cristiano Ronaldo’s four-year contract with Nike, worth US$32.5m (£21m).
The 24-year-old Jamaican has consistently stated that he wants to be a legend in his sport, but the kind of marketing push — which includes a full clothing range — accompanying this latest deal will take him into a new stratosphere of sports earnings.
Bolt says he turned down interest from rival sports manufacturing companies in favour of Puma, which has supported him since he was 15. “Yeah, definitely, definitely, (others) were interested. But for me Puma is the No1 in my book. We’ve been together for years now, they are my family so I don’t want to start with a new family. You want money, but it’s also got to be about the comradeship between you and your company.”
The deal reflects Bolt’s desire to change the image of his sport, as the company will launch a new clothing line based on the Olympic and world champion’s signature “To Di World” stance, comparable to the trademark Michael Jordan “Jumpman” logo adopted by Nike and now worth an estimated US$1bn in annual sales.
“Yeah, definitely. He has his sign, I have my own sign. Hopefully my brand can go out there and put it to the world. My new line’s coming out in December and I’m really enjoying doing it and seeing where it’s going.”
“It’s all about fashion. I’m trying to do different things, I’m trying to change the sport up pretty much,” added Bolt, who was seen wearing an artist-designed shirt at his last competition in Stockholm last month.
“The plan was to change different shirts everywhere I run. Next season we have the option of getting somebody in the country that I travel to to design a shirt for me and I’ll compete in it. I’m just trying to bring some fun to the sport and make people want to watch. It makes people want to watch and see what you’re going to do.”