Gymnast Simone Biles is leaving Nike to work with Gap’s Athleta brand

Gold medalist Simone Biles

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Gymnast Simone Biles is departing Nike to partner with Gap‘s Athleta brand.

With Athleta, Biles is going to have her own performance wear line, which will include products for wearing to and from the gym, the company said Friday.

Athleta will also give Biles a platform to be an activist for women and other female athletes.

The value of the contract wasn’t disclosed.

“Using my voice has been very empowering for me and I am grateful to embark on this new journey with Athleta to inspire young girls and women to do the same,” Biles said in a statement. “I admire Athleta for their commitment to recognize and support women’s individual and collective strength.”

In July 2019, Gap’s Athleta banner landed its first sponsored athlete: Olympic track champion Allyson Felix. Since then, Felix has worked on her own line of running clothes and has appeared in Athleta’s marketing.

Like Biles, Felix had previously partnered with Nike. She joined at a time when the sneaker giant was being criticized for not supporting pregnant athletes.

When it announced its partnership with Felix, Gap said its goal was to “flip this sponsorship model on its head” by giving athletes more support in their personal lives and by handing them creative responsibilities.

Biles’ contract with Nike had started in 2015, when she turned professional. Felix and Biles are expected to be two of the more prominent athletes at the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer.

Born in Columbus, Ohio, Biles holds the most World Championship gold medals ever won by a female gymnast. The 24-year-old has also been vocal about the abuse that gymnasts like herself have suffered in the sport.

Earlier in the week, Gap announced that it will soon be expanding its Athleta brand, which rivals Nike, Lululemon and Under Armour for women, into Canada.

Athleta is targeting $2 billion in annual sales by 2023. The brand surpassed the $1 billion mark last year, with its sales up 16% from 2019 levels. Gap’s total sales for 2020 amounted to $13.8 billion.

Gap shares were up fractionally in Friday’s premarket. The retailer’s stock is up more than 60% this year, giving it a market value of $12.46 billion.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the news about Biles and Athleta.

It follows Nike’s partnership with the estate of basketball player Kobe Bryant ending days earlier, too.

In an emailed statement, a Nike spokeswoman said that the company will “continue to champion and celebrate all athletes.”

“We’ve always taken great pride in our leadership in supporting women in sport at all levels for close to 50 years as individual athletes, through their universities, national teams or their competitive leagues,” she said.

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