Von Miller, Simone Biles, Odell Beckham And The 2017 Sports 30 Under 30 – Forbes
“When I tore my ACL, my mindset, as you can imagine whenever you get any type of injury – it’s always doubt and depression,” Denver Broncos’ Von Miller told FORBES. “But I was quickly over that and I was on to the next phase of my career, and that’s bouncing back off of ACL surgery.” Miller came back from his 2014 surgery stronger than ever, as he became a Super Bowl champion and MVP in 2016. “I look at pressure as an opportunity to go out there and prove to everybody else the type of person or the type of player that I am,” Miller continued. “I think once you really change the definition of what pressure is, it makes everything a whole lot easier.”
Therein lies the quality that our 30 Under 30 honorees possess: a high level of endurance to push the boundaries of success despite the many facets of pressure. To make our list, we look for those who flex either brawn, brains or both to be game changers on and off the field.
Von Miller, the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history, is using his wealth to invest in Muzik, a Twitter-backed headphone company and Chef’s Cut, a jerky company. Added on top of his NFL salary are numerous endorsement deals, including those with EA Sports, Old Spice, Adidas and Microsoft. A humble athlete, Miller gives back to the Denver community in his free time through his charitable organization, providing eye care and eyewear to local low-income children.
Sending shockwaves through American households from Rio, Simone Biles became one of the most decorated U.S. women’s gymnasts ever at the early age of 19. She also set a new America record for winning the most gold medals at a single Olympic game in women’s gymnastics. Biles’ sudden superstardom has landed her several endorsements and her own line of gymnastic equipment with Spieth America. Not even twenty years old, Biles has only begun her Olympic dominance.
The most electric offensive player in the NFL, Odell Beckham once made a catch so awe-inspiring that Nike received $2.2 million in media exposure because of the gloves he was wearing. A three-time Pro Bowler and once Offensive Rookie of the Year, Beckham used his fame to bridge from the sports business to the business of sports. He has invested in ROAR Beverages, a sports drink company that will feature Beckham in their marketing campaigns and product development, and is partnered with EXOS, a sports performance and nutrition company.
It’s not just the athletes who are enterprising, as our list includes those working behind the scenes to change the sports world. With television networks becoming increasingly threatened by cord cutters, this past year has seen the emergence of a new medium to consume sports: social media.
Under 30 honoree Andrew Barge, Content Development Manager for Twitter, played an integral role in securing live streaming rights for the NFL’s Thursday Night Football and Wimbledon. Evan Shugerman, Sports Partnerships Manager at Facebook, obtains partnerships for the tech giant with athletes such as Steph Curry, Michael Phelps and Floyd Mayweather. Experiencing the FIFA World Cup, the Rio Olympics and the NBA All-Star game on Facebook and Instagram can also be credited to Shugerman.
But Steph Curry and Floyd Mayweather don’t hog all of the social media attention, as two of our honorees were on the center stage of social media to springboard into fame. Choosing to swerve past the traditional route to fortune for many BMX riders, Nigel Sylvester ditched extreme sports competitions for YouTube, where his biking exhibition videos have earned him millions of views. He’s pedaled his way to sponsorships with Nike, Beats by Dre and Casio watches.
Before becoming the host of Fox Sport’s Emmy-winning show for Outstanding Social TV Experience, Katie Nolan spent two years writing, filming and editing her own YouTube videos out of her apartment. She was eventually discovered by Fox, who wanted her to join their 24-hour sports network to compete with ESPN. Nolan’s show continues to utilize the power of internet viewers rather than those solely watching on their television. The show’s viral campaign to crowdsource a Central Park bench in honor of Boston Red Sox’s David Ortiz was popular enough to shut down the city park’s website.
From the athletes on the field to those in the Silicon Valley offices, this is our 2017 Under 30 Sports class. Be sure to join the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #30Under30.