USOC Auctions Athlete Experiences on eBay

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Seeking to take the U.S. Olympic team's brand to younger audiences, the U.S. Olympic Committee has partnered with eBay to introduce auctions for collectibles and once-in-a-lifetime experiences with American Olympic athletes.


Beginning today, the auctions will run in another two waves starting Oct. 24 and Oct. 30. Ending Nov. 8, the auctions are accessed on usolympicteam.com or the U.S. Olympic team "About Me" page on eBay.


"The auctions support our overall content strategy to create a community at usolympicteam.com that allows fans to come to the site and truly interact with our Olympians and Olympic hopefuls," said Matt Mannelly, chief marketing officer of the U.S. Olympic Committee, Colorado Springs, CO.


Interactions with the athletes include questions, receiving training tips or bidding on experiences.


Bidders can get tips from Tricia Byrnes, 1999 World Cup snowboard champion. Eric Bergoust, 1998 freestyle aerials Olympic gold medalist, offers a day's experiences in Park City, 40 minutes outside Salt Lake City. Ross Powers, 1998 snowboard bronze medalist, offers to teach his techniques on his home mountain of Stratton in Vermont.


Those who want to hobnob with the U.S. women's hockey team, 1998 Olympic champions, can bid for a meeting at one of three tour stops. Timothy Goebel, the current U.S. men's champion in figure skating, has offered a day in his life with a bidder.


A list of current auctions will be placed on usolympicteam.com. There will be 30 to 40 auctions, which include experiences with athletes and autographed items. EBay users can bid in exactly the way they would on coins, dolls, stamps or jewelry.


EBay will get an insertion fee and a percentage on the final sales price, compensation no different from any other buyer or seller who uses the auction site.


Proceeds will go to the USOC's Finding Leaders Among Minorities Everywhere program. This program was created to demonstrate to minority youth that any goal is reachable through perseverance.


Part of the auctions also will be earmarked for eBay's Auction for America program to support families of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.


Marketing for the auctions will include plugs on usolympicteam.com and in e-mail newsletters to 32,000 opt-in consumers in the USOC's database. In addition, eBay will feature the auctions on its home page Oct. 25-28 and Nov. 1-4.


Mannelly said the auctions were unique to the Olympic world and possibly the first time for such a wide-scale interaction of Olympic athletes with their online fans.


"This is all part of an integrated marketing strategy to enhance our brand, identify new revenue opportunities and reinforce that it's not every four years for these athletes, it's every day," he said.


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