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Michael Phelps is ready for his close-up.
The 14-time gold medalist said Monday that he hopes his success will translate into broader exposure for swimming, with agent Peter Carlisle adding that he will consider film and TV offers “for the good of the sport.”
Carlisle said the swimmer has been approached by Hollywood agencies here but offered no details.
“We’re interested in anything that will help bring more context and relevance to the sport of swimming for a broader audience,” Carlisle said.
Speaking during a news conference for his global sponsor Visa’s new ad campaign, Phelps faced his new ultracelebrity with an easy smile, answering many questions with a humble, “I have no idea what to say.”
On Sunday, the Baltimore native broke Mark Spitz’s 1972 record by winning his eighth gold in a single Olympics — a feat that helped boost NBC’s audience and ratings. Phelps’ BlackBerry blew up with 5,000 messages after his latest victory, and President Bush called to congratulate him.
“I’m living a dream,” was a common Phelps refrain Monday.
The pressure of celebrity had begun before the expected record-breaking gold medal. Phelps’ swimming relay teammates warned him Sunday morning that there were other sports icons in the audience.
“All the guys were saying, ‘LeBron (James) and Kobe (Bryant) are here; we can’t lose in front of them,’ ” Phelps said, adding that of all the people he now hoped to be able to meet, Michael Jordan tops the list.
Next up for Phelps is a trip to England, where he will be the face of Visa at the IOC’s handover ceremony to the 2012 London Olympics. The U.K. trip means he’ll miss the Beijing closing ceremony on Sunday, said Michael Lynch, Visa’s head of global sponsorship marketing.
The new Phelps ad campaign is visible here on branded ATMs at Olympic venues and on out-of-home ads sprouting up across town. The campaign will go global and be featured heavily on NBC for the remainder of the Games. (partialdiff)
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