Simone Biles is leaving Nike to join Athleta, which will help sponsor a post-Olympics tour that she’s organizing herself, rather than one that’s usually run by USA Gymnastics.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Biles said that she hopes the partnership will allow her to participate in “honest conversations” with women and girls, and felt Athleta was a better avenue to continue to drive home the message of causes she believes in.
“I felt like it wasn’t just about my achievements, it’s what I stood for and how they were going to help me use my voice and also be a voice for females and kids,” Biles told the Journal. “I feel like they also support me, not just as an athlete, but just as an individual outside of the gym and the change that I want to create, which is so refreshing.”
The deal, announced Friday, includes a line of active wear, plus other sponsorship considerations. Athleta was founded in 1998 and is owned by Gap Inc. Biles noted that she felt like she was joining a company “truly for women by women.” The company said it has a 97-percent female workforce, the Journal reported. Terms of the deal were not announced.
It also makes a second high-profile defection from Nike this week. The estate of Kobe Bryant announced it was not renewing its deal with Nike earlier. In a statement, Nike wished Biles well, and told the Journal that “we will continue to champion, celebrate and evolve to support our female athletes.”
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