Gabby Douglas Vaults From Olympics to Gold-Medal Sales Career

Gabby Douglas won her second gymnastics gold medal, an American first, and is poised to reap a sponsorship windfall after the London Olympics.

By adding the all-around title yesterday to the team crown she helped the U.S. win two days earlier, the 16-year-old from Virginia Beach, Virginia, became the first American woman to win both golds at a single Olympics.

Douglas -- nicknamed the “Flying Squirrel” -- would be a great saleswoman for everything from toothpaste to cosmetics to airline tickets, said Bob Dorfman, executive creative director at San Francisco-based Baker Street Advertising.

“All-around gold means serious green for Douglas, in the neighborhood of at least one to three million dollars a year,” Dorfman said in an e-mail interview. “The U.S. gymnastics darling always seems to be the girl who comes out with the greatest endorsement success after the games.”

Douglas beat Victoria Komova of Russia to win the title at the North Greenwich Arena. Russia’s Aliya Mustafina won the bronze medal in a tiebreaker over Aly Raisman of the U.S. after they finished with the same score.

Douglas’s win marked the third straight all-around title for a U.S. woman at the Olympics following Nastia Liukin in 2008 and Carly Patterson in 2004. Mary Lou Retton is the only other American woman to win the all-around, at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

‘Success Story’

“It really is that great American success story,” Peter Shankman, founder of the Geek Factory marketing firm in New York, said in a telephone interview. “As soon as she won, she put her hand on her heart. How can that photo not be on the back page of every paper in America?”

Douglas, who also won the U.S. Olympic trials all-around title, led the competition from her vault in the first round. The crowd drowned out the announcer’s voice as she was welcomed to the floor for the final routine that would seal the American’s second gold medal.

“A lot was going through my mind, I was like, ’Yes all the hard work has paid off,’” Douglas told reporters after the medal ceremony. “I was speechless. Tears of joy and just waving to the crowd.”

The Americans won the team event for the first time since the 1996 Atlanta Games earlier this week, led by Raisman, the squad’s captain, who performed the final floor exercise that sealed gold for the U.S.

U.S. First

Never before had U.S. women gymnasts won the team and all- around competitions at the same Olympics. That may change now, according to Douglas.

“I think we can go on for a very long time,” she told reporters. “Team USA and United States of America are very strong, we have some very good gymnasts, so it’s going to continue.”

Douglas and her Olympic teammates will make a base salary of more than $100,000 each for participating in the 40-city Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions that begins Sept. 8 in San Jose, California, and ends Nov. 18 in Brooklyn, New York.

Steve Penny, the president of USA Gymnastics, said before the Olympics that gymnasts who won team or individual medals at the London Games could earn as much as $500,000 each on the tour.

American Flags

The 4-foot-11 (1.50-meter) Douglas beamed as she completed each dismount, routine and flourish during the final. American flags outnumbered the host nation’s Union Jack among the crowd in Greenwich.

“Her fresh face is perfect for a cosmetics deal, her infectious smile could sell toothpaste, and her nickname -- The Flying Squirrel -- is ideal for any airline,” Dorfman said. “Ka-ching. That’s the sound of America’s newest gymnastics darling being born.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Christopher Spillane in London at cspillane3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net

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