I wish I were Michael Phelps. I bet you do, too. He's fast. He's covered in gold. And he's about to become filthy, filthy rich.
Most people don't expect to see a swimmer show up on MTV Cribs, but the endorsement deals that Phelps is rumored to be staring at are just silly. Some have thrown around $40 million to $50 million a year. A few have mentioned $100 million as a nice round number for what he could earn from sponsors.
Some endorsements could make a lot of sense -- Nike
One big Phelps sponsor I can't seem to understand is Visa
Visa and rival MasterCard
Even if people do swarm to Visa in a Phelps frenzy, how much money would be brought in? Well, Visa currently has around 1.6 billion cards in circulation. It's expected to earn around $1.7 billion this year, or around $1 per card. Again, it's uncertain how much Visa intends on paying Phelps, but you can see that it would take an awfully large surge in customers to cover however many millions he gets.
No question about it, Visa has brand recognition. It's probably one of the most recognizable logos in the world. But at some point, leveraging a brand name in a market where customers probably aren't brand-sensitive seems fruitless.