Cullen Jones Is Hitting the Big Time

Cullen Jones is hitting the big time. The N&O reports “signed a seven-year endorsement deal with Nike worth potentially more than $2 million, which would make him the highest-paid sprint freestyler in the world.”

In 5 years Jones could easily be the most famous athlete in NC State history.

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17 Responses to Cullen Jones Is Hitting the Big Time

  1. Micky McCarthy 08/18/2006 at 10:11 PM #

    The kid is a great, great athlete but come on, its swimming. How much ROI can Nike possibly get out of a $7 big boy deal with a swimmer? I guess they are in the “speedo” market now.

  2. roon7723 08/19/2006 at 8:16 AM #

    i’m just proud that the guy that sat next to me in english class is soon to be a millionare.

  3. vtpackfan 08/19/2006 at 9:28 AM #

    “The kid is a great, great athlete but come on, its swimming. How much ROI can Nike possibly get out of a $7 big boy deal with a swimmer?”
    Nice one Mick, but this is Statefansnation not Nikefans. You don’t have to like or respect a sport like swimming, wrestling, gymnastics ect. to see that the Universities around the country that have embraced a wide variety of sports have greatly benefited from the additional exposure. What is really important, IMHO, is that Cullen has a chance to impower communities everywhere that have not had the opportunity to participate in a sport that can stay with individuals their whole life. Minorities are more scarce in swimming than they ever where in golf when Tiger Woods burst onto the scene and inked with Nike. Just because no one sits on the bar stool or sofa drinking Michelob watching swimming on a sunday afternoon doesn’t mean that Jones’ success won’t help as many if not more underpriviledged youngsters turn on to swimming then Woods did for golf. Speaking of getting some exercise I better get going before it starts raining. Best of luck Cullen, and go State. Thanks for the thread.

  4. Micky McCarthy 08/19/2006 at 9:37 AM #

    Please understand that I mean no disrespect to Cullen Jones. He is a great representative for our university and a fine athlete.

    My question is directed more to the loads of money these companies invest in sports that, quite frankly, cannot generate a lot of merchandising revenue.

  5. StateFans 08/19/2006 at 9:49 AM #

    If he hits it big in the Olympics, the investment will seem small. Its definitely high risk / high reward.

  6. RAWFS 08/19/2006 at 10:23 AM #

    The Olympics are every four years.

    Aside from then, exavtly when do people in this country care about swimming?

    By contrast, the NFL plays to a national audience at least 16 times a year. A top flight quarterback’s play will be repeated, reviewed, analyzed, heralded and written in legend during those weeks, the playoffs, and if their team is really good, one of the most watched sporting events in the world, the Super Bowl.

    That in mind, it seems pretty clear to me that the NC State alum and athlete with the highest potential for easily recognizable fame is Philip Rivers.

    Sure, you can say that American football is only popular in the US, but then again, swimming is not on the top of any demographics’s sports palate, anywhere — except possibly during the Olympics, and even then you can make the argument that it takes a backseat to gymnastics.

  7. cfpack03 08/19/2006 at 12:13 PM #

    I don’t understand the negativity here. I doubt this post was intended to stir debate on Nike’s risk/reward in the deal or who’s the most easily recognizable NC State Alum. Instead let’s congratulate this kid, his family, and the NC State community.

  8. vtpackfan 08/19/2006 at 4:03 PM #

    ^ Go State all the way. No, it’s not a debate on the buying power Nike may or may not have awarded themselves here. But for arguments sake the average NFL merchandise scheme is based on whose jersey is a hot seller now and when he becomes a free agent will his new team jersey still be desirable. I’ve rarely seen a worn out $85 NFL jersey on a kid these days. On the flip side a swim suit can cost at least $65 a pop, and between the hours upon hours these athletes spend training and competing in the pool, and the chemicals used to maintain the facility these suits wear out quickly. It’s a harsh reality many swimmers must face when they commit to this fameless sport, and to make it through a full season (which for many is not a reality since the competition is year round) they have to wear multiple fraying suits to cover themselves.
    My response was in no way a jab a Mickey, my nature is to avoid fights especially with folks with pugilist monickers. Also some may have interpreted it as just another “cause” to be championed, which though I may have been guilty of taking up before is not at all the case this time. No, my point was just that two million over seven years is chump change to Phil Knight when it comes to sports advertising. Cullen will have very little impact on the role swimming has in the US sporting markets, this is true. His success could lead to something bigger, more substantial in the long run. Other companies who have a similar vision may jump aboard when and if Jones succeeds in Beijing. What Cullen could do to raise awareness to the growing problem of kids living in America who are not getting the exercise they need to prevent serious health problems down the road will be a very high reward, and one well worth this small investment. It is after all , a bit more convenient to suit up an underpriviledged kid with a couple suits and provide them with some quality swimming mentors at the local YMCA, then to build an inner city golf course and ask Tiger Woods to drop by some time. Okay soap box giving out.

  9. BJD95 08/19/2006 at 8:21 PM #

    I like to see a State guy hit it big in anything – whether it be football, basketball, swimming – or even poker (we did produce a World Poker Tour champion).

  10. cfpack03 08/20/2006 at 9:00 AM #

    I’m on your side the whole way vtpackfan. I meant others were distracted by debate instead of praising this kid. Go Cullen and Go Pack

  11. metrowolf 08/20/2006 at 12:29 PM #

    First, three cheers for Cullen. It’s nice to have yet another Olympic-caliber swimmer from State. As vtpackfan noted, it’s even better for State and swimming as a whole to have more minority participation.

    RAWFS said “swimming is not on the top of any demographics’s sports palate, anywhere”. That’s not true. There is considerable support for swimming in a number of states. I know that it’s a big deal in many parts of Maryland, Ohio, Texas, Florida and California. Perhaps that’s why the predominant swimmers in the US come from programs in those states. If you want to talk about a national obsession, check out Australia. At the Sydney Olympics all swim events were sold out.

  12. vtpackfan 08/20/2006 at 6:13 PM #

    ^great point. The Aussies love the sport, its not lost on them if the swimmer is of Aussie origin or not. Cullen, or any other international swimmer, has a chance to make it in there markets as well. They still owe us for exporting us Croc Dundee, Croc Hunter and phone throwing Russel Crowe. I’m sure Nike likes dollars with roos on it.

  13. vtpackfan 08/21/2006 at 8:19 AM #

    Let me finish by saying that this conversation ties in with the thread started having to deal with the Nebraska AD. I think there is an opportunity not only for individual greatness, but for enhancing the stature of NC State athletics and possibly adding to its already fine tradition. If all goes well in Beijing and Cullen represents his country and self with distinction then Fowler and Oblinger will have the chance to use/neglect a golden (hopefully in 50m) opportunity for NC State. Cullen has the potential to standout on his performance alone, but his personal story is bound to be amoung one those spotlighted in the Costas NBC “weepy” tales. Jones’ affililation with State and head coach Brooks Teal will undoubtedly come up. Teal is an excellant coach, and his years of service going back to coaching the Raleigh YMCA team with national champion sprinter David Fox show that he loves being a coach in the area. Its time that he and his staff are rewarded for this service and are given the resources they need to compete against others regionally and nationally. How about when Cullen stands ready to pounce into the pool and they mention NC ST as his alma mater that they also point out that State is building a new aquatics center and is looking forward to a new era of swimming in Raleigh N.C. The gun goes off and the rest of the world watchs an individuals attempt to usher in the next era of competive swimming. Or we can just make it real easy on Costas or Enberg when they send a camera crew to see the facilities Cullen sweated in (yes swimmers do sweat) for four years as he aspired to become the worlds fastest man in the water. One look at that place will make it a “weepy” tale no one will forget.

  14. Trout 08/21/2006 at 12:41 PM #

    If Tim Clark or Carl Petterson win a golf major (very possible), where would that catapult them in terms of “most famous athlete?” Which would be bigger, winning a gold medal (Cullen) or winning a golf major (Clark, Petterson). I say golf major.

  15. tcthdi-tgsf-twhwtnc 08/21/2006 at 4:12 PM #

    RAWFS- You are correct the Olympics are every four years. He gets a 7 year deal which will cover the Olympics and give them both an opportunity to review the deal before the 2012 games. A lot of trials coming up over the next 1 1/2 years going into China in 08 so the promotional oppotunities exist and I’m sure there will be plenty of that stuff put on TV.

    $300 Grand to help Cullen pay for what needs to be paid for while trianing is a good thing for NC State, Cullen and oh by the way Nike. This is pocket change to that company. I don’t know what one 30 second spot cost in primetime during the swimming at the Olympics but i bet it is close to $300,000.

    Then again, Dan and Dave almost destoyed Reebok. The “UBU” and “Just Do It” campaigns started about the same time and I think Reebok was outselling Nike at the time. I guess someone lost their job over that one.

  16. vtpackfan 08/28/2006 at 7:06 AM #

    Just watched Pan-Pacific swim meet (aired nationally about a week late) and really liked what I saw. Cullen blew away the copetition in the 50 free and still looks like he has wahat it takes to improve alot. His time was third fastest in US history, passing swimming great Matt Biondi. What I found very interesting was that he was also included on the 4 x 100 free relay that set a world record. The 100 was not been a strong swim for him but to be considered one of the four best in the US now means he could be making huge strides in it. There is no one currently in the US suceeded in that event that is in his age bracket so looking a bit ahead of the World Championships his medal count for Beijing Olympics could potentially be something like: Gold 50 free. Gold 4 x 100 free relay. Bronze or better in 100 free. Not to shabby for a sprinter from State.
    The best thing I saw was his attitude and enthusiasm. No one there was as exicited and confident looking then Cullen. He definitely was all that it takes to make his mark on the world stage.

  17. Pack92 07/27/2007 at 2:53 PM #

    Triathlon is 1/3 swimming and is THE fastest growing sport in the US. The North Carolina triathlon series is the biggest in the US. I would not discount the effect swimming is having on the general population. As an ex-football, basketball and baseball (and later softball) player there were only so many athletic avenues open that were truly “athletic” after you get out of college. I got sick of softball and took up triathlon. Swimming has been the single hardest thing I have ever tried to master in my life. The only thing I can equate it to is golf. All the power in the world is useless if you have no technique. Don’t tell me swimming has no impact when you can’t get a lane at 6 am in the Y because of all the over 30 swimmers.

    Cullen Jones is THE man right now in sprint swimming for the US. WHat he has accomplished is incredible. Everyone associated with NC State should be proud and awed by what this guy does in the water. From my perspective of the last 4 years of organized swimming he is simply amazing.

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