February 25th, 2010
10:44 PM GMT
A victory for figure skater Kim Yu-Na Thursday night gave her gold on the ice, but she is already raking in her fair share outside of the rink.
The 19-year-old is wildly popular in her native Korea, with nicknames like "The Queen" and "The Fairy of the Ice." That status has yielded her $10 million in sponsorships and endorsements deals, according to her representatives, IB Sports Management.
Forbes magazine ranks Kim as the top earning Olympic athlete this year, tied with U.S. snowboarder Shaun White.
Nike has created a Just Do It campaign around the young skater, showing her overcoming the pressure and challenges of Olympic-level competition. Though the campaign is only in Korea, Nike believes it will be seen around the world. "We are getting a lot of great response from our consumers and know that through our campaign, she is touching the lives of aspiring athletes, young people and fans throughout the world," Nike said in a statement.
Samsung Electronics has created the Yuna Haptic, a cell phone branded around the skater. In the accompanying ad campaign, she goofs around like an average teenager, using her phone to take pictures and listen to music. Samsung says more than one million Yuna Haptics have already been sold.
South Korea has never before won a medal in Olympic figure skating. Kimmy Kim, a reporter for SBS TV in Seoul, says many average Koreans believe Kim's victory would help reinvigorate the country. "The Korean economy is not as good as it used to be. They hope that she wins and gives strength and hope to everyone in Korea."
IB Sports Management hopes a gold medal could lead to even more deals for the young skater. This is Kim's first Olympic games and a gold would go a long way towards extending her fame beyond her native country.
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