The 2021 Olympics are just on the horizon and Simone Biles is making a major announcement before she steps foot in Japan. In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Biles announced that she would be cutting business ties with Nike and joining the GAP-owned brand, Athleta. Through this partnership, Biles will work with Athleta to plan a post-Olympic tour that is usually put together by Nike and U.S. Gymnastics.
"I felt like it wasn't just about my achievements, it's what I stood for and how they were going to help me use my voice and also be a voice for females and kids," she told the Wall Street Journal.
"I feel like they also support me, not just as an athlete, but just as an individual outside of the gym and the change that I want to create, which is so refreshing."
While Nike has been praised for empowering inspiring changemakers like LeBron James and Colin Kaepernick, it has not always had the best reputation among Black women in the Olympics. Olympic runners Allyson Felix and Alysia Montaño called out the athletic apparel company for financially penalizing athletes who became pregnant. Felix went as far as to accuse the company of offering her a 70% pay cut after childbirth.
“I asked Nike to contractually guarantee that I wouldn’t be punished if I didn’t perform at my best in the months surrounding childbirth,” Felix wrote in a New York Times op-ed.
“I wanted to set a new standard. If I, one of Nike’s most widely marketed athletes, couldn’t secure these protections, who could?”
Like Biles, Felix ended up leaving Nike for Athleta. After signing the deal, she won two Gold medals at the World Championships in 2019 and helped set a world record in the mixed-gender 4x400 meter relay. Last year, she was named as one TIME Magazine's most influential people.
After intense public scrutiny, Nike moved to change its policy regarding pregnant athletes. Women signed by the company will not be "adversely impacted financially for pregnancy” for 18 months.
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