10:30am PT by Chris Gardner
Which Rio Olympian Will Appear on the Wheaties Box This Year?
Which of the American athletes working to snag gold at the Rio Olympics will receive that other sports honor, a Wheaties box cover? The selection criteria is a well-guarded secret at General Mills, with a source saying it's a "very, very, very tough decision-making process" relegated to "athletes who scale massively" in the public eye. (Strangely, motocross' Ryan Dungey got one in January, while iconic 1980s diver Greg Louganis had to wait until this spring.)
A Wheaties spokesperson declined to discuss specifics, telling THR only that the company has a cross-departmental committee that meets year-round to determine who is worthy.
"Beyond athletic achievements, some key things we look for include how they personify being a champion both on and off the field of competition," explained General Mills' Mike Siemienas, adding that any athlete is eligible. "We look across all sports to see who is a champion."
One would think that the Olympics will provide some shoo-ins, but Siemienas shot down any talk of featuring prospective Rio stars. "We don't discuss our future marketing opportunities, but we wish all U.S. athletes good luck in their events."
If one should get lucky and field the call, athletes that are selected are featured on Wheaties boxes for anywhere from three to six months in stores, something that still has an impact beyond the Olympics, says Louganis: "It's such an honor and still so iconic."
A version of this story first appeared in the Aug. 19 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.