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Diving for Dollars

Advocate, September 10, 2008

Sizing up the financial future of gay gold medalist Matthew Mitcham.

By Neal Broverman

All the world fell in love when diver Matthew Mitcham won gold at the Olympics in Beijing. And who could blame them? The blond 20-year-old Australian is incredibly charming.

After the first rush of winning gold, most athletes look forward to another surge—in lucrative endorsement deals. And Mitcham could see about $1 million in endorsements, says Jim Andrews, senior vice president of IEG, a company that advises businesses on the right sponsorships and celebrity spokespeople for their brand. That figure would likely have been higher if Mitcham hadn’t already come out of the closet, Andrews adds.

“There certainly are companies that would be hesitant to sign [Mitcham] because he’s out,” he says. “If you have a choice between him and a [straight] gold-winning athlete, most companies would probably go with the straight one.”

But Mitcham has a lot going for him. “He’s a gay hero,” Andrews says. Mitcham also takes to the camera like a duck to water. And he’s the right nationality.

“The Australian market is more amenable to gay athletes than the American,” Andrews adds “He’ll probably be easier to [promote] there.”

Whatever he pulls in, it should finance his next four years of training, after which Mitcham is expected to dive into the London Olympics.