Jakob Ingebrigtsen, one of Norway’s young track and field stars, is already reaping the rewards of his success this summer, not least his gold medal at the delayed Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Bonuses, extended sponsor agreements and lucrative fees for taking part in sporting events all mean the 20-year-old can cash in at an early age.
His ever-present father Gjert was already bragging after the youngest of his track-star sons won “The Bowerman Mile” at a Diamond League event in Eugene, Oregon. That victory came just two weeks after Jakob Ingebrigtsen won the men’s 1500-meter race at the Olympics. A week later he won again at another Diamond League event in Switzerland.
Ingebrigtsen’s fellow Norwegian running star Karsten Warholm didn’t fare as well in Lausanne as he had in Tokyo, placing fourth in the 400-meter “flat” race with no hurdles last week after setting a new world record at the Olympics. Newspaper Aftenposten reported how it was “an expected downturn,” part of a natural syndrome experienced by lots of Olympic-gold-medal winning athletes when bodies don’t always quickly respond after all-time highs.
Jakob’s winning streak
Ingebrigtsen, however, went on to win the 3,000-meter race in Lausanne last Thursday, albeit six seconds behind his own Norwegian record. All the pain and exhaustion also seems worth it, given the sponsor rush he and his family can now enjoy. Actual numbers remain unconfirmed, but Ingebrigtsen’s “Pappa Gjert” bragged to Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) while still in Eugene that the locally based sportwear giant Nike had extended and improved the sponsorship deal it has with Jakob Ingebrigtsen while the family was still in Oregon.
“It’s clear that what he did at the Olympics and what he did here (in Eugene) again … now they want him until 2032,” Gjert Ingebrigtsen told NRK. “It’s like, ‘can you just be nice and sign here?’ There’s an ongoing discussion.”
The Ingebrigtsen’s agent Daniel Wessfeldt was a bit more reserved, questioning whether Gjert had actually said what he said, but with a smile. He was careful about details, but confirmed that “we have extended the agreement, you can say, and there have been certain adjustments that reflect his progress. He’s growing along the way in the agreement (which was signed when Jakob was just 17 and runs until 2024). ”
‘Becomes a better deal’
Wessfeldt added that Ingebrigtsen’s contract is designed such that if the young runner gets better, “it becomes a better deal.” Asked how big the contract was, Wessfeldt would only laugh, joking that “it’s so big I don’t know how anyone would have room for so much money.” On a more serious note, he added that the agreements reflects Jakob’s “quality” right now: “We’re satisfied and he’s satisfied and Pappa Gjert is satisfied, and that’s almost the most important.”
One former manager for the Ingebrigtsens including brothers Henrik and Filip, Rune Brynhildsen, told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) that the internal division of income generated by their running is “very fair.” That means it “drips a bit on everyone” even when only one excels. The family has long run as a team, but Jakob’s gold in Tokyo begins a new era that can be even more golden.
DN quoted sponsor experts who don’t doubt that Jakob Ingebrigtsen has earned up to NOK 15 million this season alone. Runners can also command as much as USD 50,000 to take part in a race, “and if they win, it’s another USD 10,000,” Steinar Hoen, leader of the Bislett Games in Oslo, told DN. He noted that Ingebrigtsen’s participation in races will now be “considerably more expensive” for event organizers.
Gjert Ingebrigtsen insisted, meanwhile, that his son is “very relaxed” about the money that’s flowing in. Asked whether he gets any income from the deal, he said “I don’t. The money flows from the parents to the children and not from the children to the parents. We are quite clear about that. Jakob’s money is Jakob’s money, so if we go out to eat, pappa pays.”