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M I N I C AS E 1

Michael Phelps: Strategizing for Gold

MICHAEL PHELPS, nicknamed MP, won an unprecedented eight gold medals at the Beijing
Summer Olympics, and while doing so set seven new world records. Eight short days in August 2008 changed Olympic history and Michael Phelps’s life forever, making MP one of the greatest athletes of all time. Immediately after the event, The Wall Street
Journal reported that Phelps would be likely to turn the eight gold medals into a cash-flow stream of more than $100 million through a variety of business activities.1 The more obvious ones were product and service endorsements: His official sponsors included AT&T
Wireless, Kellogg’s, Omega,
PowerBar, Rosetta Stone, Speedo,
Visa, and PureSport. Other offers included the exotic and the mundane: books and movies, sculptures eternalizing his muscled torso, acrylic paintings, dog food (given Michael’s love for his British bulldog, Herman), commemorative coins, tuxedos, car rims, and even bobblehead dolls.
In his youth, MP was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Doctors prescribed swimming to help him release his energy. It worked!
Between 2004 and 2008, Michael Phelps attended the
University of Michigan, studying marketing and management. He had already competed quite successfully in the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics, where he won eight medals: six gold and two bronze. Right after the
Athens Games, the then-19-year-old sat down with his manager, Peter Carlisle, and his long-time swim coach,
Bob Bowman, to map out a detailed strategy for the next four years. The explicit goal was to win nothing less than a gold medal in each of the events in which he would compete in Beijing, thus preparing the launch pad for his superstardom.2
Bob Bowman was responsible for getting MP into the necessary physical shape he needed for Beijing and nurturing the mental toughness required to break Mark
Spitz’s 36-year record of seven gold medals won in the
1972

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