A new race is now on for Mr. Phelps: the rush to transform the swimmer’s Olympic feat into a marketing juggernaut, akin to Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods. But the window for marketing Olympians — even those with the rising stature of Mr. Phelps — can close fast. Many of the new legions of so-called Phelps Phans likely will not see his muscled torso in a pool again until 2012, an eternity for advertisers.
Even if all goes according to plan over the coming weeks and months, few expect Mr. Phelps to reach anywhere near the earnings of Mr. Woods. That’s because the golfer, who is estimated to make around $100 million annually from both his winnings and endorsements, is competing year in, year out on television.
By comparison, Mr. Phelps made an estimated $3 million to $5 million a year through his endorsements before these Games, a huge sum for an athlete in a sport rarely televised outside the Olympics.
Now that figure could double or more, as a result of his performance here, according to Mr. Carlisle.
“What is the value of eight golds in Beijing before a prime-time audience in the U.S?” asked Mr. Carlisle, riding in the back of a Volkswagen minivan through the streets of Beijing on Saturday. “I’d say $100 million over the course of his lifetime.”