Missy Franklin Remains Steadfast in her Decision to Forego Millions

  43 Gold Medal Mel Stewart | September 14th, 2012 | Featured, National, News

Missy Franklin, the most celebrated female Olympian from the 2012 London Olympic Games, is staying true to her word. She will attend college and forego millions in potential endorsement revenue.

While that has been Franklin’s well-publicized plan all along, some sources felt Franklin might reconsider given her global visibility and star-power. After media-rounds on the talk-show circuit, a cameo appearance on film with A-list stars Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, and carepackages from Justin Bieber, Franklin remains America’s Darling.

After winning five Olympic medals, four of which are gold, Franklin wants the college experience more than the pro-lifestyle. Thursday night, Franklin celebrated USA TODAY’s 30th anniversary and reiterated her feelings on the subject to the media outlet:

“I love being a part of a team and I know in college sports that’s amplified by a hundred… Every time you go to a meet you see the college team walk in together cheering for each other. That’s so cool, and I want to be a part of that… I know that the teammates I have in college are gonna be my bride’s maids in my wedding. I would love to swim professionally one day, but I know right now swimming in college is what my heart really wants to do.”

Industry analysts have varying estimates on what Franklin could’ve earned had she given up her eligibility and gone pro, $1,500,000, $3,000,000, even $10,000,000.  However, they all add that Franklin missed her earning window, the 18-month time period leading up to the Olympic Games. That’s when most endorsement deals are made. Franklin will always be marketable after her star-turn in London, and, if she decides to turn pro in 2015, she’ll surely be well-compensated for her brand strength.

NOTE: Franklin’s first college recruiting trip here. 

NOTE: USA Today confirmed that Franklin did miss the Olympic Team’s visit to the White House to meet President Obama and The First Lady. Franklin explained to USA Today, “I have school and I didn’t want to miss it.” 

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43 Comments on "Missy Franklin Remains Steadfast in her Decision to Forego Millions"


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4 years 15 days ago

I think this is a commendable decision. Of course, if she choose Texas, so much the better!

WHOKNOWS
4 years 15 days ago

She seems to continue to get exposure. I saw where she is going to be the grand marshal at the Fiesta Bowl and will do the coin toss prior to the game. She loves football! (too bad Cal lost to the Wolfpack….. 😉

4 years 15 days ago

As someone who knows Missy, she is steadfast in her decision to swim in college. Its not about money right now. She values experience way more than money, and she is genuine in everything she wants to accomplish. Whichever school she ends up at will be lucky to not just have an Olympic medalist on the team, but a star personality as well. No one picks you up and makes you feel confident in your own abilities like Missy does.

billy
4 years 15 days ago

$3 million is worth a lot more than a college team experience. she has the chance to guarantee financial security for her family and her future children. i actually think it is a bit selfish of her not to take the money when you are given such an incredible talent and ability to financially help those close you and the charitable causes she could support with that money.

Ben
4 years 15 days ago

Who’s to say her family isn’t already financially secure? Not sure they are, but they seem to be at least “.upper middle-class”. Maybe we should ask Mitt.

beachmouse
4 years 15 days ago

Her Dad’s been a C-level guy at assorted companies for a while, and I get the impression they long ago had enough stashed in Missy’s college fund to pay full sticker price to Stanford if that’s where Missy wanted to end up.

Mr. Franklin also spent a stint at Reebok. I remember reading an article a while back where he left firm instructions to wife and daughter to just go ahead and shoot him if he ever turned into One of Those Kind of Tennis Parents.

Goat
4 years 11 days ago

Have you seen Chloe Sutton’s video? The value of a college education speaks volumes!

Willy
4 years 15 days ago

Hopefully she does have a GREAT college experience and never ends up regretting her decision. Girls can be mean – really mean – and sometimes the appearance of a happy team is just a show.

“I know my teammates in College are gonna be my brides maids in my wedding”. This shows a little naivety.

Hopefully everything works out the way Missy envisions it.

indra
4 years 14 days ago

Willy – I’m assuming you didn’t swim on a women’s team in college? I don’t think it’s naive in the least. You’re underestimating the unity that forms between people who spend four years working hard, traveling, winning and losing together. Ask around, there’s usually at least one or two teammates flanking the alter. It takes maturity to step back from those kind of offers and hold out for something of intangible reward.

Willy
4 years 14 days ago

Indra,

First – you shouldn’t assume. Second – not everyone bonds with their teammates and end up quitting. Third – some girls get really jealous when others are getting attention and turn mean and nasty. Fourth – some people have forgone opportunities for the good of the team and have later regretted it. Like I said, I hope Missy has the College experience she envisions.

swimfan50
4 years 15 days ago

Missy’s Mom and Dad must be loaded!! My family easily has $150,000+ tied up in meet travel, lost wages from work, money lost on houses we sold to make a move to benefit the kids swimming, club dues, JR nationals, SR nationals, Olympic trials, etc, etc…..Missy better be glad I’m not her dad or she would take the $5 million and move on. The potential for injury, accident, death, etc, etc is ever present – get what you can to secure your future. The college experience has been GREAT buuuuuttttt not work $5 million!

billy
4 years 15 days ago

you said it brutha, i think teenage naivete is at work here, plus some tricks from college coaches trying to convince her to stay so that they have a chance of signing her.

Mirror Traffic
4 years 14 days ago

Just look at Katie Hoff, Stephanie Rice and Federica Pellegrini. Many female swimmers peak very early, hit a plateau, then spend the remainder of their career futilely trying to regain that early magic.

BillyG
4 years 15 days ago

It’s her life. She can do what she wants to.

She is turning down a lot of dead presidents………A lot.

evilwatersprite
4 years 15 days ago

Natalie Coughlin stayed eligible all four years and seems to be doing just fine financially for having gone pro at 21. Granted, Coughlin’s age/eligibility lined up perfectly with the Olympic quadrennial but even if Missy swims three years and then goes pro in 2016, she’ll still be able to set herself up nicely for the future. Personally, I really admire her for wanting to be part of a collegiate team. I sometimes wonder if things would have gone differently for say, Katie Hoff (or to offer a more recent example, Dagny Knuston) if she’d swum collegiately — perhaps the team dynamic might have been helpful, in terms of emotional well-being and dealing with pressure.

Royale w/Cheese
4 years 15 days ago

Natalie had won exactly 0 Olympic medals when her college eligibility was done though. We all know the story there…in 2000 she was an Olympic Trials finalist but a burned out high school senior headed to Cal with shoulder and mental injuries.

Very different for Missy, but commendable!

evilwatersprite
4 years 10 days ago

True, but the agents and sponsors were after her once she rehabbed the shoulder and started breaking records — and especially after she broke the 1-minute barrier. She could have gone pro after her sophomore season — and almost did after her junior year when she started having issues with teammates. By all accounts, she seems very glad that she changed her mind and kept her eligibility senior year.

DAWGFAN
4 years 15 days ago

Wow….I’m really surprised by all the comments about her being selfish and take the money instead of college. Does everyone have a short memory and not see how badly the girls who went pro and skipped college have done the last few years? Dagny Knutson, Katie Hoff and Chloe Sutton all had huge upside and never lived up to their true potential. They have had their glimpse of greatness, but I’m sure all have regrets for not going to swim in college. Missy is a great kid and I hope someday a Georgia Bulldog. We need more people who follow their passion versus cashing in at the first chance to make a buck. I know she would be a tremendous role model and love the fact my child has known her before she was famous and she is still the same person. Btw…Her parents are pretty darn good too for guiding her on a choice, but not forcing her one direction or another.

W3TAlum
4 years 15 days ago

I agree with everything you said…. except I hope she comes down here to Gainesville to become a Gator!

anonymous
4 years 15 days ago

(Just an outside fan. No personal connections.)

I honestly don’t think it’s appropriate to comment on her parent’s financial situation. How much money they make is none of our business and it’s not our place to speculate.

In addition, part of the reason why Americans have gravitated toward Missy is because of her innocence, kindness, and maturity. Americans love that she’d rather swim for her high school and college rather than being mercenary and cashing in–this facet arguably makes her even more marketable come Rio.

Missy and her parents have also always stated that regardless of her swimming career, she will attend and finish college. Being part of an athletic team is one of the best ways to adjust to the college environment, as well as make friends who share common interests. While she could arguably turn pro now and still train with the team, it won’t be the same because she won’t be with the team during road trips to away swim meets and participating in team bonding outside the pool.

I do, however, think that Missy will swim at most two years in college, simply because of training/meet logistics during the 2015-2016 year leading into Rio…either that or she redshirts, like Allison Schmitt this past year. This way, she’ll have a chance to attend all the grand prixs/world cup circuit and focus solely on long course, while also not messing up her taper.

I really do think she will turn pro sometimes before 2016 simply because the future is so less unsure after that and it would be a huge risk not to cash in. (That’s not to say she won’t do well further into the future…it’s likely she’ll even swim til 2024…she’ll only be 29. But there could also be new rising stars by that time. You just never know, especially with it’s ever-growing popularity).

Regardless of when she decides to turn pro, I definitely see her as someone who wants to have a career after swimming–one that’s outside the pool. She doesn’t necessarily need swimming to financially set her for the rest of her life–she’s a smart girl, and will go on to another career.

beachmouse
4 years 14 days ago

As long as you aren’t speculating on the Franklin’s tax forms or something, I think it’s within the realm of okay to speculate if there are or are not financial pressures within a family and how they influence a decision to go pro or to remain amateur.

I remember Liesl Jones going pro at a pretty young age, though granted the structure over there is a lot different than it is here. And if you paid attention to the news coming out of there over the years, it sadly seemed like there was a certain amount of pressure to take as much money as young as possible because Jones came from a pretty low income family background, and to some degree she was her mum’s meal ticket.

I’m glad that Franklin seems to be in a place where she could make a decision about the right time to go pro without some sort of financial pressure involved.

And yeah, I’d guess that Franklin does go pro just after the 2015 NCAA season wraps up because the timing seems right for it- she’ll have gotten the team experience she wanted and can remain with the team with the whole ‘volunteer coach’ smokescreen after that, but it lets her then maximize on endorsement opportunities leading up to Rio.

aswimfan
4 years 15 days ago

I really hope she only swims college for 2 years. And then swim professionally starting from 2015 to earn tons of money in the lead up of 2016 Rio.

fan388
4 years 15 days ago

Prodigies are rare and valuable. Perhaps, this creates a responsibility to look beyond short-term goals and embrace the higher calling. Phelps status will require an early pro commitment, some sacrifices and a road less traveled. She’ll decide. Go Missy! We love you whatever you decide. #greatnessisagift

DR. EVIL
4 years 14 days ago

She will have three great years representing USC, living in LA close to major media outlets. A year before the next Olympics, she will turn pro, so she can do all the pre/post Olympic endorsements deals.

For those of you worried about the money…while most of you focused on her dad’s finances, her mother is a physician, so Missy probably doesn’t have to worry about helping her family out financially.

aswimfan
4 years 13 days ago

she cannot have three years swimming college and take a year out before Rio.

That just doesn’t compute. (she will start college in 2013, 2013 + 3 = 2016 already).

But she can swim 2 years college and swim professionally in 2015 ( a year before Rio).

4 years 14 days ago

Man, it would totally suck if she was able to do both, right? I can’t think of a compelling reason why she shouldn’t be able to go “pro” and still make all this money – while still swimming competitively in college. This is the real issue.

(And to those that brought up Knutson, Hoff and Sutton – Phelps didn’t swim in college, either. Seemed to work out OK. [Though he did stay with the same coach, so…using other people as examples for Franklin doesn’t really work.])

Keith
4 years 14 days ago

I liked the suggestion that athletes should be able to have earnings placed in a fund on their behalf but not paid out until they finish college. But even that may be a step too far for the archaic and posturing NCAA brass.

4 years 14 days ago

Hadn’t seen that suggested before, I like it. Seems like it’d be an acceptable compromise, though there should be a provision to access a certain amount immediately. (As stated above, Missy’s situation would afford her that luxury, but plenty of other collegiate athletes and their families desperately need the money.)

anonymous
4 years 14 days ago

One facet people forget about Phelps is that he (and Bowman) actually “went to college” for 4 years, from 2004-2008. While he didn’t swim competitively for Michigan, he still worked out with the team and took classes. In essence, he was able to have that “college experience” that most children need in terms of growing up and maturation. Katie Hoff only recently started taking classes (I believe). Chloe hasn’t enrolled but plans to next year. And if I recall, Dagny didn’t go to college either (I could be wrong, so correct me), though I think Dagny’s situation is a little different in light of her ED.

Phelps was able to have that college experience that the girls above did not, and I honestly believe it played a huge role in helping him develop as a person, and hence a swimmer. He has a good head on his shoulders, and Michigan deserves some credit.

anonymous
4 years 14 days ago

I have always wondered…especially since Bob is so cerebral and far-thinking…if he had always planned to coach college for four years specifically so that Michael could get that college experience despite being pro.

JoJo
4 years 14 days ago

Of course Bob did that on purpose (hoping it would work out the way it did). However, I’m not too sure about Michael “going to classes” like a college student. Pretty sure that didn’t happen.

4 years 14 days ago

If Missy wanted to do that type of thing, I’m sure she could. She’s kind of a big deal.

Also, very jealous of Phelps’s chosen major.

Bullddoze
4 years 14 days ago

Missy should go pro and take all of the money she can get. She is not being noble by choosing to go to school just to be part of a team. Forgoing on the cash could be a huge opportunity missed. She can take the millions in potential earnings and buy her way back to school any time.

PsychoDad
4 years 14 days ago

She will make her millions no matter when she goes pro. I suport her decision and hope she comes to Texas. She loves Austin.

Anonymous
4 years 13 days ago

Missy is making the right decision for her, given the current set of rules. It is her choice.

But who makes the rules? Why is it ok for the NCAA & broadcasters, who don’t even play, to make millions from football & basketball, but when a talented young athlete comes along, she’s required to be an amateur? Missy & others should not be forced to make such a choice.

BillyG
4 years 13 days ago

Just let swimmers like Missy go pro and swim in college. Why not? She can pay her own way and swim with a team.

It’s not a big deal to me. But, it makes too much sense and would make college swimming more fun to follow.

It’s not like college swimming is like football or basketball etc…… There’s no professional leagues.

cb
4 years 12 days ago

You people shouldn’t judge until you walk a mile in their shoes. I was there for Chloe Sutton’s decisions and was there to help her get away from Ray Benecki as he used her as bait for Kate Ziegler to push down. (Kate’s best swimming years by the way) After she moved 15 times with her parents in the military and tried to find good coaching she was told by Schubert to find Bill Rose. It was a fit and moving again right away to head off to college was not going to be a good thing for her. Also the college coaches were not knocking down her door because she had turned her focus completely over to open water. So she put it off for a few years. She has never stopped taking classes. She got a 2300 on her SAT and is brilliant. Katie Hoff has also has pursued her degree and Kate Ziegler could not pull herself away from Ray Benecki until recently but she has also pursued her degree. There are lovely young swimmers who have never had to sacrifice much with huge feet and great God given talent who have normal nice lives with parents who have bottomless pockets who never have to worry about the actual PAIN of making the choice to do this for life. Traveling around the world (Chloe has been on every continent except Antarctica) has been a blessing and you can sure tell that swimming is her passion beyond words. But seriously you guys know absolutely nothing about what went into these decisions. You guess and gossip. Think about it…..These girls are very human and I truly blame these types of comments you make for Dagney’s eating disorder, Amanda Beard’s multiple problems and many other athletes that I have heard of who never go public. Shame on you!

Susan
4 years 10 days ago

Well said, CB! Thank you!

cb
4 years 12 days ago

Also, who is to say who reached their potential? I bet most of you weren’t 2 time olympians! Or in have Katies medals, or have Kate’s world records. Remember our phenomenal youngsters haven’t even been to college yet. But I guarantee with Missy having such a natural ability, gifted with body type and beauty in the water and out she will do well whatever decision she makes.

WM
4 years 12 days ago

Love how people who have no relationship to this 17 year old kid are sitting at their computers arguing over her financial decisions…idiots! Get a life…get a job!!

4 years 12 days ago

Comment of the year – nay – the decade. Well done, dude.

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About Gold Medal Mel Stewart

Gold Medal Mel Stewart

MEL STEWART Jr., aka Gold Medal Mel, won three Olympic medals at the 1992 Olympic Games. Mel's best event was the 200 butterfly. He is a former World, American, and NCAA Record holder in the 200 butterfly. As a writer/producer and sports columnist, Mel has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Universal Sports, …

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