As Michael Phelps was piling up gold medals during last month’s Beijing Olympic games, there were reports that Phelps would soon be signing an exclusive deal for autographed memorabilia.
Speculation as to what company would land that deal came to an end last week when Grandstand Sports announced it had secured a one-year exclusive with Phelps, with most of the proceeds from the sale of autographed items going to various charities.
“This is certainly one of the biggest, if not the biggest, deals we’ve ever done,” said Howard Schwartz, president of New York-based Grandstand Sports. “We started the negotiation process right after the Olympics, and we know they had a significant amount of offers they were sifting through in an effort to find the right fit for Michael. We were very excited that we were selected as the right fit.”
Schwartz believes two factors were key to Grandstand’s selection. One was the company’s history of working with other well-known Olympians, such as the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” hockey team, gold medal figure skater Sara Hughes and snowboard champion Shaun White. The second factor, according to Schwartz, was Grandstand’s success at lining up memorabilia sales for charitable fundraisers.
“Anyone can distribute items to the general public,” Schwartz said. “They (Phelps’ representatives) were looking for a way to use these items to help a number of organizations.”
Phelps did his first signing with Grandstand last Thursday and will do two more this year. Among the items currently available via Grandstand’s website are autographed 8-by-10 photos for $399, 16-by-20 signed photos for $499, a signed Speedo swimcap for $499, and signed Sports Illustrated cover posters for $499 (13-by-18) or $599 (18-by-24). Consumers can also send in their own items to be signed, but only licensed products will be accepted.
Details are available at www.grandstandsports.com or by calling 888-78-GRAND.