Would You Bid For This Woman On Ebay?

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Photo By Navid Matoory

It ain't  easy being an Olympian, we all know that.  The sacrifice, the time, the long hours away from family and friends, working to perfect their sport.  Winning a Gold Medal can mean millions, but working towards that goal can mean years of living on couches and empty bank accounts.

Jenna Shoemaker has reached a crossroads. Despite being one of the most accomplished female triathletes in the United States, she is quickly running out of funding and now has to face the bitter truth that her Olympic dream may come to an end because of lack of cash.

Her coach told her to get a job and save some money, but being an unemployed triathlete in Boulder is like being an unemployed actress in L.A, not all that unique.

A Harvard graduate, Shoemaker recently posted a comment on her Facebook page about having to become a stripper to raise cash, if you have ever seen Jenna, she would do well and the post was a joke.  The hard truth is that she and many like her are struggling to make ends meet as they chase the Olympic dream.

"I was advised to get a job this fall so that come January I will be able to train full time without worrying about money. However, getting a full time job and working my training around that job seems very counter productive to me. It is too many steps in the wrong direction and I know I can't afford to be working while my competitors around the world are training full time."  Says Shoemaker.

In a world where third string quarterback and convicted felon Michael Vick can make more for riding the bench than Jenna and her brother(Jarrod Shoemaker) can make in a year, combined.  It's a horrible to think that her Facebook page  joke of taking it all off could become a reality.  American High Jumper Amy Acuff , Amanda Beard, Gabrielle Reese, Katarina Witt, all posed for Playboy and several other nude layouts and made great money doing it.

While it's fantastic that they are celebrating the female form, putting some money in the bank and providing teenage boys with a special distraction, it probably wasn't on their pre. or post Olympic to do lists.  Something Shoemaker would never do.  I had to ask.

"I don't think there's anything wrong with it, but it's not my style.  Somethings need to be left to the imagination."  Says Jenna about nudity, nude scenes etc.

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Trust me, I for one would love to see Shoemaker in Playboy, or working a pole, but under her own terms, not because she is flat broke and without hope.  Is that the message we want to send to our future female Olympic athletes, "train hard, sacrifice and learn how to pick up a dollar with you hoo ha!.

Part of the problem is the Olympics itself.  A source that chooses to remain nameless at State Farm, former sponsor of the Olympic Basketball Team told me "the Olympics was sponsored by All State, we sponsored the mens basketball team, but several weeks before and several weeks after we had to go "black" and weren't able to mention it, or get in trouble with the IOC, they make it very hard."

Sponsorships for "fringe" sports aren't like a Nascar sponsorship, these are "fringe companies with tiny budgets that usually give up a free bike, a few entry fees and 5-10 thousand dollars to their athletes, the rest is up to them.

Shoemaker isn't giving up and is selling the opportunity to hangout with her and have some one on one time with a world class athlete on Ebay!  You can have dinner with her and help keep Jenna off the pole and headed towards the podium.  Despite needing the money, part of the winning bid will go to a charity. To bid on Jenna click here.

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"By auctioning off the dinner, I'm hopefully giving a fan or
follower of the sport a chance to get to spend some quality time with
me that they otherwise would probably not get the opportunity to have.
I'm always really appreciative of all of the people who follow my
career and support triathlon, so to be honest, I am excited to get a
chance to sit down and chat with them. I guess I'm hoping it can be a
"win-win" for everyone."
Says Jenna.

As for getting behind the athletes themselves, companies like Home
Depot have programs designed to help.  State Farm isn't exactly running
to the table, but they are looking for new ways to keep our athletes
clothed and competing.

Our State Farm executive tells us.  "We care about the Olympics,
national spirit and pride in our country.  The problem dealing with the
Olympic brand is a sticking point, but we want to make sure that our
athletes are able to represent our country to the best of their
ability, we are proud of them and want to be there for them.  How do we keep
people engaged for a time frame longer than the Olympics, how do we
deal with the Olympics, these are the big questions?"

Jenna and her fellow athletes aren't giving up either, they are
Olympians, fighting for what they love is a part of their make up.

"Sometimes you have to think outside of the box a bit and try something
different. It'll be great if it works out, and if not, it'll be
something hilarious I can look back on. I guess it just shows how
committed I am to making the Olympic team. Being able to continue to
train and race full time so I can do the best job possible in the lead
up to qualification for London 2012 means everything to me, so if I
have to keep cooking up creative ways to help get me there, then I
will. I don't want to look back in 3 years and wonder if things could
have been different."

Click here to bid on Jenna.

Comments

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  • You mention yourself in the article that she is a Harvard grad, something that comes with great honor, yet what you write about her is completely the opposite. I don't understand how you can just assume that because she is doing this her next step is going to be to become a stripper or pose for playboy.
    Apparently you didn't read on her blog where she talks about how tough it is for her a world class triathlete to make enough money to live while other pro athletes make multi-millions of dollars a year.

    I hope that next time before you post an article about a person you consider exactly what it is you're saying about them and what that may mean to them.

  • I have been horribly misrepresented in earlier versions of this post.

    The title itself is completely inaccurate. The auction is not to "buy me" the auction is to buy an autographed jersey and a chance to sit down to dinner with me on Thursday night. Let me reiterate - I AM NOT FOR SALE. I would not now, or ever, even consider selling myself or even posing nude. It is just NOT who I am.

    The whole point of the article was to raise awareness about the massive discrepancy in the athletic world as far as salaries are concerned. World class athletes are not compensated the same across the board (for many reasons) and as a result, many, if not most, in lesser known sports, like triathlon, are struggling to pay their bills as they chase their dreams.

    In reality, the whole thing is so much bigger than the silly auction where I had simply hoped to raise a bit of money for breast cancer and to raise some awareness about our sport and the struggle for all of us.

    But thus is life...

  • as editor of your college frat house newsletter, this would be appropriate to maybe show a couple of your "brahs." but we're adults now. how did this article get published? I kept thinking that this was a joke, not because triathletes make no money, but because the article comes across like a horny 13yr wrote it. wow. Sex sells yes, but maybe you would have taken the more noble road and written about how someone who hasn't let fiscal dilemmas come between her, the sport she loves and her Olympic quest. Or maybe not construe it so it seemed as if she were next in line to pose nude for cash where she clearly states she wouldn't do that. manipulating your own questions; what a journalist! Or maybe you could have not written it so creepily. I hope you get a round of high fives at your frat house later today. sweet job "bro"

  • 1) I think David is just trying to raise an important issue about there still being struggling, world-class athletes that cannot raise money to train full-time. I don't think he comes across poorly at all. In fact, I think the whole point is that it is ridiculous that Ms. Shoemaker should have to resort to tactics like this to raise money. I never got the impression he was endorsing the idea that Ms. Shoemaker should swing from a pole. I also never got the impression from the article that Ms. Shoemaker was selling herself.

    2) The idea of a female athlete selling sexuality is nothing new. He mentions the ones that posed for Playboy, but there are plenty of others that capitalize on their "sexiness" and there is nothing wrong with that. Whether it is Anna Kornakova (sp) or Danica Patrick, females can increase their sponsorship value using their sexuality. In fact, women athletes that can do this and do it, are smart in that they are taking advantage of their economic opportunities.

    3) Sports, even the Olympics, is always about money and always has been. The Olympics is also about political power. The structures set up by the IOC, the USOC and the governing bodies of each sport create political powers that do no seem to favor the athletes, but the people running them.

    4) Maybe the USAT needs to look more closely at the money it spends. Are they still paying the legal fees for contesting their own elections? Why is there a triathlon training center in Florida when most Olympic athletes are training in Colorado? How much money was spent on board members flying to meetings or conferences? How much money was wasted to have a man or woman come around to your local race to tell you one of your bar-end caps fell out and that you cannot race unless it is fixed? All this money saved could be going to the Olympic hopefuls instead.

    5) Triathlon, and triathletes, will never been money generators. It is a participation sport much more than a spectator sports. Thus, there will never be money in the sport for the athletes. Remember, sports is ultimately about money. Nobody wants to watch a sport where 95 percent of the races have about two lead changes. Guy comes out on the swim ahead. He gets passed on the bike. The guy first off the bike may or may not be passed on the run. Two hours of racing for about 15 seconds of excitement. It will never appeal to the person sitting in their family room watching sports. Even amongst triathletes themselves, only about 50 percent actually follow the sport. My guess is that less than 50 percent of triathletes even know who Jenna Shoemaker is. In fact, it is probably more like 20 percent. So, if a person chooses triathlon as their sport of choice and they are good enough to compete at the highest level, they should realize there will never be money in the sport. It may not be fair, it is just reality. Thus, the athletes are forced to figure out other ways to generate income. At least Ms. Shoemaker has plenty of choices. Whether it is capitalizing on her degree from Harvard or the physique she works so hard at, many athletes in fringe sports do not have those options.

  • Well said, Lonnie. It is disheartening that Jenna should have to resort to such tactics to support herself, and I think that was the whole point of the article - using Jenna's situation to draw attention to the plight of female athletes in general.

    I applaud Jenna's creative efforts to make money and donate to charity through her ebay auction. There's that Harvard degree at work. And, the article itself seems to have helped her in this cause - she's got some bids now which she didn't have before and, for that, I can only imagine she's grateful.

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