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July 02, 2004

We prefer 'elite' to obscure

ESPN.com | SPORTSBUSINESS - Rovell: Peddling uphill

Only Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods are more influential as pitchmen than Lance Armstrong, explaining the $14 million he takes home in endorsements every year, in line with Serena Williams and Shaquille O'Neal.

ESPN business reporter Darren Rovell looks at Lance's career off the bike: He commands the highest speaker's fee in sports at $200,000, he's the centerpiece of Discovery's $30 million sponsorship deal, and he's apparently going to be re-signed by Coca-Cola "imminently."

It stings a little when Rovell says "He is without question the most popular athlete who has dominated his sport in relative obscurity."

Despite Armstrong's run and omnipresence during the past five Julys, 93 percent of Americans say they have little or no interest in cycling, according to a poll conducted earlier this year by Knowledge Networks, a market research firm. Only 2 percent say they are very interested in the sport.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 2, 2004 | Permalink


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Last year I had the privilege of following the Tour de France on French television. Sure there is monotony but the sheer stamina and endurance of these athletes is monumental. There is no competition that can match the Tour de France in terms of consistent top level performance. Lance may not be a household word in the US and he may arouse considerable antipathy in France (afterall he so consistantly wins the French national pasttime) but in the long run he and his predecessor Lemon will put American cyclists on the map forever. In my neighborhood fully uniformed teams of cyclists can be seen almost daily working out on our roads. This is new in America and is only the beginning. Look for more champions to follow!

Posted by: Jack Simmonds at Jul 3, 2004 8:32:39 AM

I also have a question: Why is it that no US Postal/team Lance Armstrong T shirts are available? What a marketing coup is going to waste! In an age when virtually any place/event results in the production of a series of T shirts the Tour de France is conspicuously missing.

Posted by: Jack Simmonds at Jul 3, 2004 8:38:04 AM

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