Nick Symmonds, a two-time U.S. Olympian at 800 meters, sold nine inches of ad space on his right shoulder for $21,800 on Ebay after 107 bids. T-Mobile CEO John Legere won the auction.
Symmonds, 32, first pulled off the feat ahead of the 2012 U.S. Olympic trials and fetched $11,100 from a Wisconsin-based marketing firm, Hanson Dodge Creative. He will use his left shoulder to advertise his own company, Run Gum.
Symmonds aims to raise awareness of the “antiquated” rules and regulations the IAAF, track and field's international governing body, the United States Olympic Committee and USA Track and Field.
Due to the rules, Symmonds has previously worn a bandage over the tattoo, which he believes brings more attention to both the company and his cause.
Symmonds has been vocal against sponsorship limitations by governing bodies for years and recently filed a lawsuit against the USOC and USATF. The USOC has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
The winner of this year’s auction takes a risk on their investment as Symmonds has not been named to the 2016 U.S. Olympic team. The team will be selected at the 2016 U.S. Olympic track and field trials, which run from July 1–10 in Eugene, Ore. Symmonds was a member of the 2008 and 2012 U.S. Olympic team. Since then, he won a silver medal at the 2013 world championships and captured his sixth national title at the 2015 U.S. Championships.
Symmonds did not go on to compete at the world championships as he refused to sign a statement of conditions that would require him to wear Nike apparel at all times. He felt the wording of the statement was unfair to his sponsor, Brooks Running. Symmonds left Nike after a seven-year relationship and signed with Brooks in 2014.
Symmonds will open the 2016 season at the Shanghai Diamond League meet on May 14.
- Chris Chavez