US athletics star Allyson Felix has signed an innovative partnership with performance apparel brand Athleta, through which she will receive the same financial benefits if she takes a break from the sport for maternity leave.
Felix, who has won six Olympic gold medals in track events, previously had an endorsement deal with Nike, which ended in December 2017.
Felix now becomes Athleta’s first-ever sponsored athlete and the partnership is designed to empower women and girls through sport. Athleta, which is owned by Gap, will be Felix’s exclusive supplier of apparel.
Athleta’s design team will work with Felix to develop high-performance run and train products, including plans for multiple product collaborations. The 33-year-old will also play an important role in Athleta’s ‘2020 Power of She’ campaign, which seeks to celebrate to power of female collective.
Felix said: “It’s a different approach to sponsorship. They are really excited to support me holistically. As an athlete, a mother and an activist.”
Felix gave birth to a daughter in November last year. In an op-ed for the New York Times earlier this year, Felix revealed that she had to undergo an emergency C-section at 32 weeks due to severe pre-eclampsia which threatened her and her baby’s life.
During this time, Felix was negotiating a new deal with Nike. According to Felix, Nike wanted to pay her 70% less than she was earning pre-pregnancy and after the two parties were unable to reach an agreement, they decided to part ways.
Felix wrote at the time: “I asked Nike to contractually guarantee that I wouldn’t be punished if I didn’t perform at my best in the months surrounding childbirth. I wanted to set a new standard. If I, one of Nike’s most widely marketed athletes, couldn’t secure these protections, who could?”She added: “The financial agreement will stay the same if I choose to have another child anywhere throughout the contract.”
Felix, the most decorated female track and field athlete in US history, competed in her first race since giving birth at the USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships from 25th-28th July. She wore Athleta apparel during the event.