American swimming sensation Katie Ledecky is turning down up to $5 million in possible product endorsements. After winning 4 Olympic gold medals, most athletes would be preparing to cash in on their newfound popularity. Not Ledecky, she just wants to be a normal college kid.
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“I’ve always wanted to swim collegiately and have that experience,” Ledecky said in a recent interview with ESPN. She added, “I think it is going to be a lot of fun to be on a team with some really great friends and great swimmers and also just go to class with them.”
The upcoming Stanford freshman delayed her entry to the university to concentrate on the Olympics. Even with the possibility of becoming a multi-millionaire, Ledecky actually seems more excited about college. “I know we have a really great team, and I am excited to get to Stanford and see what we can do.”
Olympic sports marketing expert, Bob Dorfman, claims Ledecky’s strong performance in Rio could net her millions. “With a strong shot at four golds” — she won four gold medals and one silver — “Ledecky would be the aquatic darling of the games and could command as much as $5 million annually in endorsement income by turning pro — especially given that at just age 19, she has the opportunity to win gold in two, or even three more Olympic Games,” Dorfman states.
Commenters on Twitter became angry that Ledecky had to choose between her collegiate career and endorsement contracts.
— Tom.Kestler (@TomKestler) August 23, 2016
— Tarron Adams (@G_TarronAdams) August 23, 2016
Katie Ledecky shouldn't have to choose between accepting endorsement dollars or being able to swim in college.
— Luke Bonner (@LukeyBonner) August 15, 2016
NCAA rules specifies that college athletes cannot be paid, including endorsements. Many believe that college athletes should be able to benefit from endorsements and still compete. Instead the universities that these athletes attend will be the ones making millions off of their fame.
Ledecky blew away the competition at the Rio Olympics. To put into perspective the accomplishments she has completed, she is tied for most decorated U.S. female athlete in the 2016 Olympics. Ledecky is just short of Micheal Phelps for the most medals won among Americans.
She also became the first woman since 1968 to win gold in the 200m, 400m and 800m freestyles in the same Olympics. She set new world records in the latter two races. You may be asking what kind of person passes on $5 million of endorsements? A champion, that’s who.