Reporting from Richmond, Canada – Because speedskater Eric Heiden shaved maybe once a month, by his own count, the endorsement deal with Gillette didn’t make sense. So he passed.
And he passed on countless other offers too, more intent on camping and returning to school, riding his bike instead of riding five gold medals to his own personal mint. Even in 1980, before celebrity was as ephemeral as an eye blink, Heiden went from Lake Placid to the raging waters of notoriety thanks to the hardware around his neck.
“Back then, you had really no chance of being a professional athlete and a very small chance of using your Olympic career to gain financial success, so it was never really something that was part of the equation when I was competing,” said Heiden, who is now team doctor for U.S. Speedskating.
“After I was done, I was like, whoa, man alive. That perception changed.”