Measuring a loss in gold

August 17, 2004|By Rob Hiaasen

It's not about the money, but it's a little bit about the money.

As you've heard, Michael Phelps' pursuit of seven gold medals ended yesterday when he took the bronze in the 200-meter freestyle event. The third-place finish apparently cost him a $1 million bonus from Speedo - a turn of events that makes a bronze medal look almost like chopped liver on Phelps' Olympic plate.

If you're an agent, what do you tell a client after losing $1 million?

"I would tell him that the $1 million bonus is not and should not be the issue," says Ron Shapiro, Cal Ripken's longtime agent. "The issue is continuing his quest for success at the Olympics. Who knows? The sponsor who pulled the deal off the table might do something appropriate if Michael has six gold medals. Then, I would make the phone call to the sponsor to see if we could work something out."

Phelps could still medal in eight events - but no dollar figure has been put on that rich possibility.

Who knows? Maybe Phelps and Speedo can work something out.

- Rob Hiaasen

Phelps' medal count: One gold and two bronze


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