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After her dominant run to the gold medal in snowboarding halfpipe in PyeongChang last week, Chloe Kim quickly became a household name.
The 17-year-old had already wrapped up the gold when she threw down an incredible run that yielded a score of 98.25 — nearly 10 points higher than any of her competitors. Beyond her incredible skills, her quick wit on social media — she tweeted about ice cream between qualifying runs! — has won her swarms of new fans.
That culminated in her place on the cover of the newest edition of Sports Illustrated.
After the gold medal, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan detailed the journey of Kim, the daughter of two South Korean immigrants.
Parents of prodigies have long struggled with that fine line, and Jong’s involvement with Kim’s career is unmatched in snowboarding. He saw genius in his daughter.
“When she was 8,” Jong said, “I thought, ‘Well, maybe I can bring her to the Olympics.’ ”
So he quit his job and devoted his life to Kim. She moved to Geneva to live with her aunt. When Jong visited, they went to France so she could ride the halfpipe in Avoriaz. He accompanied her around the world at 10, when she would show up to competitions and flummox organizers that couldn’t fathom a girl this young, this good. Whatever potholes presented themselves – “Girls are kind of very difficult to take care of,” Jong said – were filled in with the promise of what was to come.
Now, Kim, once she turns 18 on April 23, is set to become one of the most marketed athletes in the United States. She already has sponsorship deals with Nike, Burton, Toyota, Visa, Samsung, Target, Mondelez, and Monster, among others. After winning the gold, she gained more than 66,000 Twitter followers in a span of about 30 minutes.
She had fewer than 10,000 followers when the Games began. A week ago, her follower account was approaching 208,000. At the time of this writing, her total is up to 328,000.
Thayer Lavielle, an executive at Wasserman who works with big brands on sports sponsorships, told Yahoo Finance’s Daniel Roberts that Kim is a “marketer’s dream.”
“The cool part about somebody like Chloe Kim is that she’s an absolutely delightful 17-year-old who’s funny to follow anyway, and then all of a sudden she goes out and just crushes it,” Lavielle said. “So she’s a hero because she’s crushing it for the U.S., but on the other hand, she’s completely approachable and normal, because she’s tweeting about how she’s hangry.”
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