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Schwarzman of the Blackstone Group bids for gold medals with Olympic donations

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Brittney Reese is a gold and silver medalist in the women’s long jump at the Olympics. She hopes to become her fourth American team in the US delegation to Tokyo this week.

The funds she prepared to get there came mainly from an unlikely source: Blackstone founder Stephen Schwarzman.

34-year-old Reese said: “He is the only person I know who is so generous, I have met.” Last summer, she was one of 25 Olympic candidates selected to receive US$25,000 in funding. She said this is her only guaranteed income this year.

Since 2013, the private equity giant has become the largest individual donor to the American Track and Field Foundation, promising to provide $12 million in funding for athlete training.And for a net asset Estimated at 29 billion U.S. dollarsHis position as a major supporter of athletes such as Reese shows that even in wealthy countries such as the United States, Olympians lack available financial resources.

Schwarzman said: “Many of these athletes really rely on their mouths to eat. It’s unbelievable. They have to choose between eating and where they live.” Unlike some professional sports leagues, these The league provides minimum wage guarantees for players protected by collective bargaining agreements, and those who want to participate in the Olympics are mainly independent contractors who rely on sponsorship or donations.

“I think the United States [Olympic system] Schwarzman said that due to our structure, it is at a disadvantage to some extent, and the sports and athletes that receive funding depend largely on “how popular a sport is and whether it can find donors.” “.

Stephen Schwarzman and American track and field athletes receive funding from the founder of Blackstone © Bertrand Roberts

Reese, especially like many track and field athletes, has signed a sponsorship contract with Nike, but this year can only make money if she reaches certain performance benchmarks, such as getting a place in the Tokyo team by participating in the U.S. Olympic trials held this year in Oregon. Eugene’s week.

“We are not recognized by sprinters. This is a problem for the United States,” Reese said.

Footwear companies have traditionally made up the majority of the income of aspiring Olympians, although changes in the entire industry have disrupted the endorsement market.As far as Nike is concerned, it is at Protracted reorganization, And Under Armour has significantly reduce Its sports marketing expenses.

The Covid-19 pandemic will only exacerbate this shortage. The World Athletics Federation is the global governing body of the sport. Last year, it relied on private donations to provide nearly 200 athletes around the world with a demand-based allowance of US$3,000.This week, the group Said it will be distributed In the next two World Championships, an additional $1 million will be provided to the winners-the fund said it will be deducted from the fines paid by the Russian Athletics Federation for anti-doping violations.

Schwarzman and other athletes in 1963

Schwarzman (far right) and his fellow mile relay champion in the 1963 Pennsylvania Relay © Thomas Clements

Schwarzman is a high school sprinter who grew up outside Philadelphia. He is good at 220-yard and 440-yard track and field events. As an undergraduate at Yale University, he was a classmate of Frank Short, the 1972 Olympic marathon champion. “We have English class together,” he said.

But it wasn’t until 2012 that he began to participate in the sport financially. At the London Olympics that year, he witnessed the American middle-distance runner Morgan Uceny fall in the penultimate lap of the 1500m championship-an experience he described as “heartbreaking.” “And prompted him to contact her through mutual contact.

“I didn’t know who he was at the time,” said Uceny, who has quit the sport. Schwarzman said that it was their meeting shortly after the London Olympics that inspired his donation. Since then, he has invited grant recipients to Blackstone headquarters to attend the annual luncheon every year.

He acknowledged that not everyone is familiar with the field of private equity. “They will ask me to describe my job and ask how things work,” he said.

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Despite his personal commitment to athletics, Schwarzman said that the Blackstone Group does not intend to compete with other private equity firms Influx of sports investment, Such as CVC Capital Partners with Dia Capital.

“We did not focus on sports as a business,” he said. “This is not something we are actively paying attention to.”

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