Noah Lyles: Why American sprint king is still miles away from matching Usain Bolt’s earning potential

Noah Lyles and Usain Bolt

ATHLETICS Noah Lyles: Why American sprint king is still miles away from matching Usain Bolt’s earning potential

Joel Omotto 10:46 - 28.02.2024

Noah Lyles has inked a multi-million-dollar contract extension with Adidas but he still has a lot more to do before he can pull the numbers Usain Bolt used to command.

Six-time world champion Noah Lyles is reveling in his new deal with Adidas in what has been termed “the richest contract in the sport of track and field since the retirement of Usain Bolt.”

While the figures have not been revealed, Lyles inked a multi-million-dollar contract extension with the shoe maker which extends their partnership up to the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

However, while comparisons are good and show how big a brand Lyles is becoming, the American sprinter is still miles away from matching Bolt’s earning potential as the Jamaican legend was a huge draw for sponsors.

Bolt is believed to have been earning over $10 million (Ksh1.4 billion) a year from PUMA and commanded an appearance fee in excess of $250,000 (Ksh36.6 million). These are numbers that even some NFL stars could not manage.

While Lyles is definitely on track, he still lacks a lot more that would push him closer to the numbers Bolt commanded during his prime.

This is because while he has six world titles, Lyles has yet to win an Olympic gold, having managed bronze in 200m in Tokyo three years ago.

Bolt had six individual Olympic gold medals (three apiece in 100m and 200m) and two team titles (4x100m relay) by the time he retired in 2017.

As an Olympic champion, he would command much more in appearance fees and pull in more sponsors given their affinity for sprinters like him.

Lyles has an opportunity to fill that hole at the Paris Olympics this year where he is a hot favourite to win gold in both 100m and 200m.

Another thing that propelled Bolt to unimaginable heights were his world records. Bolt broke world records in both 200m (19.30) and 100m (9.63) at the 2008 Beijing Olympics before lowering them the following year at the World Championships in Berlin.

Bolt’s times of 19.19 in 200m and 9.58 in 100m still remain the world records to date and Lyles has the tough task of lowering them to put his name among the greats.

To his credit, Lyles has been trying to beat Bolt’s 200m mark as he has the third fastest time in history following his 19.31 mark recorded at the 2022 World Championships in Eugene, Oregon.

He had promised to try and break the record at last year’s Worlds in Budapest but failed in his attempts when he managed 19.52, leading to the “still the Bolt era” comment from the Jamaican great.

However, at 26, the American has time on his side if he can maintain the high levels.

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