Olympic Gold Medalist Allyson Felix Becomes First Athlete Sponsored By Athleta

Olympic Gold Medalist Allyson Felix Becomes First Athlete Sponsored By Athleta

When Olympic gold medalist and athletics star Allyson Felix negotiated the renewal of her long-standing Nike contract in 2018, things did not go as planned. For one thing, Nike wanted to pay her 70% less than earlier, a price she told the New York Times she could “accept” if that was what Nike thought she was worth. But what could she not accept? Company policies on maternity.
In an op-ed for The Times, she wrote: “I asked Nike to lawfully guarantee that I wouldn’t be penalized if I didn’t do my best during the months surrounding childbirth. I wanted to set a new standard. If I, one of Nike’s most marketed athletes, couldn’t get these protections, who could? Nike refused.”
She was at a halt with the company and was looking for a new clothing contract. (In November 2018, Felix gave birth by emergency C-section.) And she found one in an unlikely place: Athleta, the Gap sportswear company. This is the first time that Athleta has sponsored an athlete and signed a multi-year contract with Felix.
“That’s why we promise to support you – as an athlete, a mother, an activist, as you continue to break records, give out barriers and break the silence.” Felix will work with the brand on product design as well as empowering women and girls.
Felix wore Athleta in a run last week, marking the first time she has run since giving birth. As she qualifies for the world championships this fall, NBC Sports reports that her top priority is preparing for the 2020 Olympics. (At the 2016 Olympics in Rio, she won the silver in the 400 meters.)
Felix had initially decided to tell her story after two Olympic runners, Alysia Montaño and Kara Goucher, shared their pregnancy stories with The Times in an op-ed titled “Nike Told Me To Dream Crazy, Until I want a baby.” In the article, Montaño wrote: “More than a dozen track athletes, agents and others familiar with the business describe a multibillion dollar industry that hires women to have families in public – but does not guarantee them a salary during pregnancy and early motherhood.” Since then, Nike has announced that it will add new wording to contracts to protect the salary of athletes during their pregnancy.

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