Is “Blackness” Still Marketable?

Will Cullen discover black gold?

Will Cullen discover black gold?

In this Tiger Woods-Obama Era, one has to wonder whether blackness (versus multi-ethnicity or exotic backgrounds) still sells? Cullen Jones wants to find out. Fresh out of the pool from helping the U.S. 400-meter freestyle team swim what may have been the best race in history, winning the gold with a .8 second victory over the trash-mouthed French, Jones, a Bronx brother, is heading to Madison Avenue to cash in. His strategy? To leverage being the third African-American Olympic swim medalist ever, and being hot-looking, to create career as a model and, uh, magazine writer? We’ll see.

This is from the Sports Business Journal:

U.S. swimmer Cullen Jones won gold Monday in his only event of the Beijing Games, swimming the third leg in the United States’ come-from-behind victory in the 400-meter men’s freestyle relay final.

But as good as Jones looked in the water Monday, it’s his look outside the pool that his agent, Premier Management Group’s Evan Morgenstein, says could present Jones with some of his most promising endorsement opportunities.


Jones is interested in modeling and has expressed a desire to be a writer for GQ in the future.

“We’re going to start talking to modeling agencies about the possibility of exclusive representation,” Morgenstein said, who also hopes to find more media opportunities for his client, as Jones “loves talking to people.”

Morgenstein emphasized that he is looking for clients interested in more than a “one-off, one-year relationship,” as well as companies “that see beyond corporate sales.”

“Right now we really wanted to focus on companies that I think have a long-term perspective of how to utilize Cullen,” he said.

One company that already has invested in Jones is Nike, which in 2006 signed the Bronx-native to a deal that made him the highest-paid sprint freestyler in the world. The chart below lists all of Jones’ endorsement deals.

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