Olympic Athlete Agent Evan Morgenstein: My One On One

Nastia Liukin
Nastia Liukin

Today, I interviewed Evan Morgenstein, agent of Nastia Liukin, Jason Lezak and Dara Torres and talked to him about the business of the Olympics.

Darren: Nastia has a ton of endorsement deals. What does a silver medal do (that she won today in the team competition)? She still has the all-round, but what does a silver medal do as far as marketability?

Evan: Well, first of all, Nastia has the opportunity to win five medals, she has three individual events, the all-around and the team, so we're excited about all those opportunities to win medals. But the fact that she is on the team that won a medal at the Olympics, when a year ago, year and a half ago everyone was writing her off because of her injury, thought she was too old, this is an unbelievable success for year. And it continues on -- the ability to tell the story how 20 years ago her father won a medal, and she got the ability to come here and win a medal in honor of her dad.

Darren: Parents of two Soviet gymnast champions. You have an endorsement deal Nastia has recently signed that no one has know about, what is that deal?

Evan: She just signed a deal with a company called HPL on their product PureSport, it's a product that utilized by great athletes like Michael Phelps, and Aaron Piersol and Brendan Hansen and Nastia is going to be the first female that has ever actually endorsed the product. So we are really excited. It was something that was done prior to the Olympics, it isn't going to really be announced formerly, well I guess other than this, until after we get done with the Olympics, but it's a great opportunity for her to share her willingness to go tell young kids about being healthy and doing something good for their bodies.

Darren: She scored a 16.9 on the uneven bars today that was the highest score of anyone in any event. Mary Lou Retton is always that bar that 10 on the vault in 1984. What type of breakout performance do you really need to last beyond the normal 4 to 6 months that Olympians have before we start thinking about football season, and World Series and everything else?

Evan: Well it's funny, I look at Nastia as someone, sort of how I look at Magic Johnson and basketball, he redefined the position and I look as Nastia as someone that can redefine being a gymnast in the United States. Because of how she does what she does, the number of medals she can win, and the fact that she really has a pre-disposition to wanna go out there and do a lot of things for a lot of people.

Darren: You represent Jason Lezak, an unbelievable fastest split in relay history in that 4x100 relay that saved Michael Phelps chance at eight golds perhaps. Tell me about the marketability of him, he's got the 100M tonight. What's his chances?


Evan: He's got great opportunity. There's a couple areas that I think Jason can really have success. First, and foremost, he's a team player and I think American companies love team players. The second great thing is, Jason comes from a long lineage of great American Jewish swimmers, like Mark Spitz, and I think there is a huge opportunity for him to sort of step in that role that Mark carried for so many years, to now go out in the public to do things in that community, very much like Cullen Jones does in the African-American community and really have a lot of success there.

Darren: Dara Torres, she's got the silver medal from her relay, she'll be in the 50-meter free that's her event this weekend. She's a 41 year old wonder child if you can say that, has deals with Toyota and Speedo, a book deal, reported $3M for two books. Does she have to win gold in order to really really cash in?

Evan: Not even a little bit. The fact that a 41-year-old mom showed up at the Olympics and is kicking the young kids butts? I mean, I love it. I get emails every single day from women in the 30-plus category who are dying to know Dara Torres. She's starting a revolution, she's going to be someone you never see and have an impact on that group of people before. And she is going to take this for the next 20 years and do some great things for women.

Darren: Are you surprised that she doesn't seem surprised by the, "she must be doping," or does she love that, and you love that?

Evan: No, I mean look, I understand why people say it, but the fact is there's no smoke, there's no fire. That girl has gone to extent that no one can imagine to show people that she wants to do it the right way and I've known her for so many years. The one thing she'd never do is put something in her body. It's just not in her psyche, she'd never do it.

Darren: What is she looking to do in terms of categories as a mom, how do you play the mom angle?

Evan: Well, I think first and foremost, when you look at Dara, she was a former Wilhelmina model. She was the first athlete in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, how can you not do personal care? She's gorgeous. And every woman wants to aspire to be like Dara. So I think she has an ability to influence people in that regard. I think she wants to do something associated with moms and families, and the other thing that I find really interesting is, we get so many communications from dads and men that say "You know what, Dara's somebody that I wanna look up to" and not because she is a woman, but because of the age that she really focuses on. And the beautiful thing about Dara is as she gets older, she becomes more marketable, because you know the folks from AARP have already knocked on our door -- we're going to do an appearance for them on Sept. 4th in Washington D.C. with Martina Navratolova. So the older Dara gets the more marketable she gets and I can't wait I have 20 years worth of opportunities with her.

Darren: Is it just the U.S. market? Alot of people say coming to China -- maybe China falls after the Olympics in terms of where it is in this frenzied business height. But if she wins gold in the 50-meter free, does she have a chance to do stuff worldwide not only in the U.S. but here?

Evan: Well I hate to say this, but Americans aren't the only people getting old, so I think she's got opportunities all over the world.