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Will Gold Medalist Usain Bolt Make His 'Tax-Free' U.K. Return?

Friday, 8 Feb 2013 | 1:06 PM ET
Usain Bolt
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Usain Bolt

Usain Bolt had a good year in 2012. He won three Olympic gold medals. He became known as the most successful sprinter in history. Oh, and he reportedly made at least $20 million.

Self-proclaimed as the "Most Naturally Gifted Athlete the World has Ever Seen," he's also a savvy marketer and businessman. That's why, outside of the Olympics, he has not competed in the United Kingdom in nearly four years.

The reason: Taxes.

The UK taxes visiting athletes relative to overall annual earnings. Even though Bolt receives hundreds of thousands in appearance money, he would lose money if he ran in England.

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But this summer, for the British Athletics London Grand Prix, he can keep all his money. In an unprecedented move, the country's head of Treasury, George Osborne, granted tax amnesty for the event.

London's Grand Prix is an event within The Samsung Diamond League, which is comprised of 14 of the best invitational track and field meetings in the world. Many of the same athletes competed in the 2012 Olympic Games.

It is, of course, not just for Bolt, but it may well lure him back.

"This decision means that London is now a meeting that we can consider for Usain," his agent Ricky Simms told CNBC in an email. "Previously, we didn't consider running in the UK as an option for him."

Track and Field is more popular in the maintream of European culture, and England wanted to keep momentum going from last summer's Olympics.

And it looks like it might be work for the sport's biggest star.

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"I am working on his schedule and will discuss the opportunity further with him and his coach over the next few days," said Simms who runs PACE Sports Management. "If the competition works for his preparations for the World Championships in Moscow, we will hopefully be able to conclude a deal."

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Bolt sells tickets like no one else in the sport, so paying him a large appearance fee should easily be offset by the economic activity that will stem simply from his presence.

—By CNBC's Brian Shactman; Follow him on Twitter: @bshactman

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