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Bolting to The Bank?

Having been in the audience at the Bird's Nest on Saturday night here in Beijing, there were a lot of people that were confused -- along with awed -- by the way Usain Bolt celebrated his upcoming gold medal with 20 meters to go in the 100 meter race, and still broke a world record.

Jamaica's Usain Bolt passes by the scoreboard as he sets a new world record to win the gold medal in the men's 100-meter final during the athletics competitions in the National Stadium at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Saturday, Aug. 16, 2008. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)
Ricardo Mazalan
Jamaica's Usain Bolt passes by the scoreboard as he sets a new world record to win the gold medal in the men's 100-meter final during the athletics competitions in the National Stadium at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Saturday, Aug. 16, 2008. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

I'd like to tell you that I've confirmed the rumor that's been floating around here, but unfortunately I cannot. Since most of the world doesn't know about this rumor, it's at least worth telling.

You see, the reason Usain Bolt didn't push through and finish in 9.60 seconds instead of 9.69 is -- as the rumor goes -- because he's smart. He didn't want to kill his gravy train.

Runners often get six figure bonuses for doing things like breaking world records and if you study the previous four times the 100 meter has been broken over the last three years, it's never been by more than .03 seconds. Asafa Powell (9.77) broke Maurice Greene's record (9.79). Justin Gatlin (9.76) broke the record of Powell, who broke it back a little more than a year later (9.74). That stood until Bolt broke the record (9.72) in May.

So, the conspiracy theory goes, that Bolt knew before the race that he had to win the race and take the gold, but not push it too much, otherwise he'd kill his opportunity at future bonuses.

"I wasn't worried about the world record," Bolt said after the race. "I didn't come here to run a world record. I came here to win."

I couldn't find any number for his agent Norman Peart, so I couldn't follow up there, but I do know that Bolt was presented with a $1.8 million check by his sponsor Digicel when he broke the record in May. (By the way, I'm still trying to figure out if that was in U.S. or Jamaican dollars because if it was the latter, it was then $25,000 in U.S. currency.)

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  • The next call was to Puma, who usually takes a backseat to Nike and adidas at the games, but the Bolt moment put them in the spotlight when after the race Bolt held the golden spikes up for the world to see. Puma, for their part, is releasing a special gold medal looking bag in honor of the event.

    I spoke with Puma spokeswoman Maria Cristina Maggetti, who immediately said she wasn't privy to whether Bolt had world record bonuses worked into his contract.

    "I wouldn't say he was doing it for the money," Maggetti said. "But it is his job. If he was doing it for the money, wouldn't you do the same?"

    Yes, I would. And covering the business of sports for a decade, I wouldn't fault Usain Bolt if he had it all planned out, financially speaking. I'm just intrigued to know if that was the case.

    My two cents? If the 6-foot-5 Bolt needs the money, he should work on his hand-eye coordination and try out for an NFL team while the iron is hot. I mean, what could he do in the 40 yard dash? A 3.5?

    Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com