Olympic Gold Turns to Green for Top Athletes

After grabbing gold and the spotlight in Beijing, the nation's top performing Olympic athletes are preparing to cash in their gold for tons of green coming from endorsements.

Golden boy Michael Phelps, who has banked more gold medals than any athlete in Olympic history, thanks to the eight he secured in this year's games, should be poised for a windfall.

"If you're Michael Phelps, sitting there with those eight gold medals, the gold is just waiting to be cashed in," said ABC News sports consultant and USA Today columnist Christine Brennan. "And the answer is, yes, he will."

Already, the super fast swimmer has received a bonus from swimwear maker Speedo -- an extra $1 million tossed into Phelps' pool.

Then there's Visa, which already has Phelps ads everywhere. And the poster boy for the Beijing games also may show up on your breakfast table on a box of Kellogg's cereal.

"Most major corporations -- whether it is an AT&T, Visa or Speedo -- they are looking years in advance [for] who to attach themselves to in these Olympic Games," said sports marketing consultant Ryan Schinman. "By the time the Olympics come around, they have a game plan."

But Phelps isn't the only Olympian poised to bank big bucks. Gold-winning gymnast Nastia Liukin received a Visa card with her picture on it.

"That is very cool," she said.

Liukin and Phelps are following in the footsteps of their predecessors -- like decathlete Bruce Jenner, track star Carl Lewis and all-American gymnast Mary Lou Retton -- who made careers out of their Olympic fame.

And the idea of cashing in on Olympic gold isn't limited to American competitors.

Usain Bolt, who struck the games with such quickness and fervor, isn't just the world's fastest man. The Jamaican track star also is one of the world's most coveted by advertisers.

"When they have a deal with a gentleman like Bolt, who wears gold Puma sneakers, then takes them off after the race and shows them to the world," Schinman said, "they just picked the right guy and he ultra performed."

Puma may have been Bolt's first sponsor, but it's likely just the beginning -- proving gold can equal green on the world's sporting stage.

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