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Marketers Say Oh Yes To Ohno

Apolo Anton Ohno of the United States celebrates winning the bronze medal for the men's 1000 m short track speed skating at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.
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Apolo Anton Ohno of the United States celebrates winning the bronze medal for the men's 1000 m short track speed skating at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.

The window to cash in on marketing deals for Olympic athletes is very short, but another good games ensures that American speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno, who has so far won a silver and bronze, can be relevant for years to come.

Ohno’s two medals from these Olympics, combined with what he won in the previous two games, gives him an American Winter Olympics medals record of seven.

Ohno already pulls in more than $1 million a year from the likes of Alaska Airlines, AT&T, Coca-Cola, Vick’s, Nestle and Omega.

Some marketers say Ohno’s name and unique look make him memorable in the eyes of the American public and advertisers.

“I don’t know how much of it is the name or the soul patch,” Ohno told CNBC. “Both were not really by choice. My father gave me the name, Apolo Anton Ohno, and the soul patch – it just happened to grow like that. It’s because I’m half Asian and I don’t have the ability to grow a full beard.”

A Turnkey Sports poll revealed that Ohno was the most recognizable American Olympian before the games, with 70 percent of the population knowing him. Part of that result might be because of Ohno’s winning performance of ABC’s Dancing With The Stars in 2007.

“The ‘Dancing With The Stars’ show was a phenomenon,” Ohno said. “It still is. I was very lucky to be able to go on that show and give my best and be able to win and have an awesome dance partner. I learned a lot about myself and not only that but about the entertainment industry and get a little bit of a taste to see what that is all like.”

After Ohno races tomorrow, he'll likely hang up his Olympic skates, but that doesn't mean he won't continue to be used in marketing campaigns.

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Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com

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