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Olympic Fame Used to Fade Quickly, But Instagram Changed That

Gymnast Nastia Liukin has a slew of endorsements more than a decade after her Olympic triumph.

Nastia Liukin, left, and teammate Shawn Johnson, center, hold their medals during the 2008 Olympics. Both still have staying power thanks to Instagram and other platforms.

Nastia Liukin, left, and teammate Shawn Johnson, center, hold their medals during the 2008 Olympics. Both still have staying power thanks to Instagram and other platforms.

Photographer: Nelson Ching/Bloomberg

Nastia Liukin didn’t really understand what she’d done until she stepped off a plane in her home state of Texas. It was 2008, and she had just become a household name after winning an Olympic gold medal in the gymnastics all-around competition in Beijing.

At the airport, a crowd greeted her with cheers. Later, her hometown honored her with a parade. For the next several months, she flew around the country for talk shows, commercial shoots and gymnastics exhibitions. But then, suddenly, it was all over. The attention and opportunities faded. A few years later, Liukin retired from gymnastics for good, and that was that.