In the pool he's devastating. Out of the water, he is equally as dominant. Of all the Olympic athletes competing in Athens over the next couple weeks, no one has received more publicity than swimmer Michael Phelps.
The teenager from Baltimore is swimming for seven gold medals, but he has already made millions of dollars out of the pool in endorsements.
At the tender age of 19, the phenom has become the most marketed athlete in Athens and the face of the U.S. team. But Phelps isn't the only American with the potential to follow the likes of Bruce Jenner or Mary Lou Retton — Olympic stars who turned their gold into green.
Jennie Finch, who at 23 years old gets as much attention for her 71-mile-per-hour fastball as her sex appeal, already makes six figures off the diamond from companies such as Bank of America, 24 Hour Fitness and Sprint.
Other Olympic females, like swimmer Amanda Beard, volleyball player Logan Tom and track and field star Amy Acuff — all who posed for the most recent FHM magazine — appeal far beyond their sport, and they join several others with the potential for endorsement riches.
"When you have both the skill and the physical appeal ... that seems to be a magical formula for Madison Avenue," said advertising executive and CNBC contributor Donny Deutsch.
Deutsch said the few Olympians who have achieved gold in endorsement deals were more than just great athletes.
"Whether it was Mary Lou Retton, a Peggy Flemming ... something about them captured America's attention and made them America's sweethearts."
Gymnast Carly Patterson hopes to fill that role.
"You have to do more than just win a medal. You have to have personality and be the kind of person that America wants to invite into their living rooms," said Marc Ganis, president of Sports Corp.
The athletes that do land endorsements can remain marketable long after the Games end. Twenty years after winning the gold in Los Angeles, Mary Lou Retton still earns between $200,000 and $250,000 a year.
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