Athletes from across the world have been ranked according to their marketing potential over a three-year period from this summer.
- Value for money
- Home market
- Willingness to be marketed
- Crossover appeal
American, 20, Gymnastics
From Olympic hopeful to 24 carat superstar
Key partners: Nike, Hershey’s, United Airlines, Kellogg’s, Mattress Firm, P&G
2016 ranking: New entry
Those in the know knew what to expect from Simone Biles at Rio 2016. A serial world champion in her teens, she had explored the limits of what was possible in gymnastics. Her spectacular style had yielded a signature floor move– ‘the Biles’, a double layout with a twist – that spoke to her innate, unique talent and the commitment she had shown to exploiting it.
She left Brazil with five medals, four of them gold.
Raised in Texas by her grandparents – her father was absent and her mother struggled with substance abuse – Biles was spotted aged six on a chance visit to a kids’ gymnastics class. She was home-schooled in adolescence to help her pursue her remarkable potential.
“People called her breakout, but she’s been on the world stage for so long, and what she did was superb.” Rick Dudley, chief executive, Octagon
She is extraordinary, yet what endears her to millions is how ordinary she appears. Biles is all bounce: she delights in competing, her social media accounts are a celebration of simple pleasures. Her glee at meeting actor Zac Efron sparked a viral highlight of the Games.
Now 20, she is on hiatus in 2017, enjoying her freedom with an appearance on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, but will return to prepare for the 2020 Olympics. The face of several US marketing campaigns on the road to Rio, in her first year as a professional, she will draw worldwide interest for her Tokyo encore. EC