Olympic Endor$ements: Who Will Cash In?

The Winter Olympics are over, but for some of the games' brightest stars, the payday is just beginning.

Those with the right combination of looks, personality, a compelling backstory and, last but not least, a medal or three, could see new endorsement deals worth millions.

Some already have such deals under their belts -- a certain red-haired snowboarder comes to mind -- and could be in line for even more.

And then there are the athletes who performed well but, for one reason or another, won't find themselves newly-minted millionaires.

Overall, experts say, it's harder for U.S. Olympians who don't also compete in professional sports to secure the same kinds of corporate backing as players for the National Football League, National Basketball Association and the like because they're just not out in the public eye as often.

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"Being an Olympic athlete can be a very depressing experience: You spend four years grinding away for that one Olympic opportunity where you become really huge, if you're lucky, for 3 or 4 weeks, and then you go back into oblivion," said Boyce Watkins, a faculty affiliate at the College Sport Research Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"Sometimes, you're lucky enough to have a memorable performance like [champion Olympic gymnast] Mary Lou Retton," he said, "but usually people forget about the Olympics right after they're over."

So who will escape post-Olympics oblivion? With the help of Watkins and Larry Woodard, the president of the ad agency Vigilante and an ABCNews.com columnist, we graded eight top athletes to see where their endorsement prospects stand.

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Apolo Anton Ohno

2010 Olympic Medals: One silver, two bronzes.

A gold medal eluded speed skater Ohno at this year's games, but he's not hurting: He won five medals, including two golds, in two prior Winter Olympics, making him the most decorated American Winter Olympian ever.

Much of the American public, however, knows Ohno more from his dancing feet than his skates: He won ABC's celebrity dance competition, "Dancing With the Stars" in 2007 -- and that, said Woodard, made him extra attractive to sponsors.

"He already had notoriety that they could glom onto," he said.

And glom they did. Going into the games, Ohno had struck deals with everyone from Coca-Cola to Vicks.

Endorsement Prospects: Excellent.

Shani Davis

2010 Olympic Medals: One gold, one silver.

Can Americans find room in their hearts for a second decorated Olympic speed skater? If that second skater is Davis, the answer is uncertain. For one thing, the Olympics is all about teamwork, said Woodard, but Davis chooses not to take part in team speedskating events. He also keeps his distance from US Speedskating, the sport's governing body in the U.S. that provides funding for athletes' training and features them in marketing campaigns.

"It's dubious how strongly he's on the American team," Woodard said.

Perhaps what hurts Davis most is that he's just not well-known like Ohno. What helps him, meanwhile, is a stellar record that includes a gold and silver medal in the 2006 Olympic games.

Watkins said that Davis, one of the few black Winter Olympic champions, also is admired by the African-American community.

Davis' lack of team spirit hasn't scared Nike away; it, along with several foreign corporations, already has a sponsorship deal with the skater.

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