Olympic giant Michael Phelps takes aim at Silicon Valley

Olympic swimming star Michael Phelps has done all he can do in the swimming world, and now he’s looking to dive into a bigger pool — the world of tech. “I would love to get involved, whether it’s in a couple little startups here and there, take a little risk, have some fun and see where it goes,” Phelps said on APNews during an interview at the the San Jose Intuit QuickBooks conference.

In case you don’t know the details of Phelps’ mighty career — the numbers are staggering. A total of 28 medals, of which 23 were gold, spread over 5 Olympic games.

Phelps has some cash to invest. He has his own line of swimwear and has endorsement deals with Under Armour, Omega, Visa, Wheaties (of course), and most recently Intel. The AP story notes he’s made some $75 million during his career, which far outstrips the $1.65 million from the United States Olympic Committee and Speedo.

Phelps also has a foundation that teaches water safety, gets kids into swimming, and provides financial assistance to athletes. “More and more what we see athletes do is craft their legacy with brands long before they retire,” Elizabeth Lindsey, a marketing expert at Wasserman, said on CNN. “Phelps has done that with his foundation and by being more of a mentor. That sets a tone that could be a platform into retirement.”

Phelps is also no stranger to controversy, though. He was involved in a bong smoking incident in 2009, and had a DUI arrest 2 years ago.

AP also mentions that athletes getting into tech get mixed results — pretty much like us normal people, except on a much larger scale. On the upside, for example, Dr. Dre was part of a founding group that sold Beats to Apple for $3 billion. Actor Ashton Kutcher co-founded an investment fund in 2010 that got in on Uber, Airbnb, and Spotify. The fund value has grown from $30 million to $250 million according to a review by Forbes magazine earlier this year.

On the downside, HJR Capital was a tech investment firm that went under in 2009, 10 years after former 49ers lineman Harris Barton founded it and got Joe Montana and Ronnie Lott to join in. Former Red Sox ace Curt Schilling started a video game company that went under in 2012. The article adds that he won’t be going the VC route like recently retired Lakers star Kobe Bryant (at least not yet).

It takes determination and a lot of long-term effort to achieve the type of pool success Phelps has had, so you wouldn’t necessarily want to bet against him. No doubt he will have a capable team around him when he makes his big move. On APNews, he says “I am getting my feet wet. 2017 will be a big year.”

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