"High performance is an important message to send out," Gordy Sheer, USA Luge's marketing and sponsorship director and a 1998 doubles Olympic medalist for the U.S., said Wednesday. "High performance gets attention, and especially when we get high performance from athletes like Erin who are great spokespeople and very likable, down to earth and I would say marketable."
For starters, there's a $10,000 bonus from the U.S. Olympic Committee for her bronze. Plans are already being made for a grand welcome when she returns to her hometown of Remsen, N.Y. Hamlin already has marketing deals with widely recognized brands like Citi, DeVry and United Airlines. It would surprise no one if more came her way.
Her life changed because she was about a half-second faster than Canada's Alex Gough and finished third instead of fourth.
"Getting on the podium at the Olympics is pretty much what we all do this for," Hamlin said. "It definitely has its own luster to it."
Hamlin's medal wasn't a complete surprise, though it wasn't exactly expected, either. And that was something even she acknowledged in the days before her race.
Plus, even though 27 is hardly old, only five other women have medaled in her sport at a more advanced age. There's no guarantee she'll be in Pyeongchang in 2018. But because of what she did in Sochi, those wearing the red, white and blue four years from now will almost certainly have benefitted from what she did on a crisp Russian night.
"Hopefully, it means it gets a little more attention and we get some funding and spread the numbers and get a lot more kids involved going forward," Hamlin said. "And we just get stronger."
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