It’s not surprising that Michael Phelps is on the cover of this week’s issue of Sports Illustrated, what with all the medals he’s been winning. What is surprising, however, is what he’s wearing.
Clearly visible in the photo are Phelps’s black sweatpants, which are emblazoned with a large white Nike logo. What’s wrong with that, you may ask? Well, Phelps has been sponsored by Under Armour since 2010. The apparent snub hurts even more, considering Phelps and Under Armour are both proud Baltimoreans.
“This will go on the wall at Nike,” a former U.S. Olympic Committee chief marketing officer told Bloomberg. “Under Armour must be going wild behind closed doors.”
There is, of course, an innocent explanation: While Phelps is sponsored by Under Armour, Nike is the official apparel outfitter for Team USA. But it’s not like Nike’s deal requires athletes to wear their logo — and neither of the other two Olympic stars on the magazine cover are flashing any logos at all.
This one must sting even more, since Phelps and Under Armour founder/CEO Kevin Plank appear to be buds. Let’s hope their friendship (and business partnership) can recover from this gaffe.
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