SAN JOSE, Calif. — Olympic medalist Michael Phelps has decided to stretch his interests, one that could lead him to Silicon Valley.
“I would love to get involved, whether it’s in a couple little startups here and there, take a little risk, have some fun and see where it goes,” Phelps said in an interview during a visit to San Jose, California.
Tech entrepreneurship would mark a big change for Phelps, whose business experience to date consists mostly of endorsement deals with Under Armour, Visa and Wheaties. These and other big brands have paid him an estimated $75 million during his career. In an advertising campaign that began last month, he became the pitchman for the computer chipmaker Intel.
The AP reports that Phelps was a little forthcoming with any particular venture, other than not being ready to start his own investment fund, like retired Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant did earlier this summer with entrepreneur Jeff Stibel. If Phelps has ideas for founding a startup of his own, he’s keeping them to himself.
Making the leap from pitchman to a businessman is not easy, said David Carter, executive director of the University of Southern California’s Marshall Sports Business Institute. “Athletes come and go and many talk a big game, but they don’t follow through,” he said. Phelps “is really going to have commit to learning about business and demonstrate his seriousness about it.”
Phelps is exploring other options. He’s already launched a line of swimwear and other clothing bearing his “MP” logo. Other products are in the pipeline for next year, though he won’t say what.
“I am getting my feet wet,” Phelps said with a grin. “2017 will be a big year.”