Olympics

The Going Price for a Shot Putter? $12,000

Adam Nelson, whose auction netted 104 bids on eBay, plans to donate a portion to the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Adam Nelson, whose auction netted 104 bids on eBay, plans to donate a portion to the World Anti-Doping Agency. (By Scott Barbour -- Getty Images)

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Friday, May 27, 2005

At least for one month, shot putter Adam Nelson , a two-time Olympic silver medal winner, can give up his "Space for Rent" T-shirts. Within the coming days, Nelson expects a shipment of new ones promoting "Rex, The Talking Bottle," an orange prescription bottle that has arms and legs and wears a big smile -- and which is the mascot for the company MedivoxRx.

Nelson successfully sold himself to the small public company, a subsidiary of Wizzard Software, on eBay Wednesday night, eliciting a winning bid of $12,000 after a week-long contest that generated 104 bids from more than a dozen bidders.

Promising a month of promotion and one speaking appearance, Nelson increased his income from zero -- he lost his two major sponsorships after winning his second straight Olympic silver medal at the 2004 Summer Games -- to about $11,000, the amount he will pocket after making a donation to the World Anti-Doping Agency.

MedivoxRx uses Rex to promote its specialty pill bottles, which at the push of a button provide audible information about the drugs inside for the sight-impaired, elderly or patients who have difficulty reading small labels.

At first glance, the gleeful pill bottle seems a darkly comic logo for an athlete who speaks so publicly against drugs in sport that he operates a Web site called Throwclean.com. But Nelson, who decided to put himself up for auction after failing to land any lucrative sponsorships, said he was pleased with the result.

"What they offer is a great product that's useful to a lot of people," Nelson said. "I'm really excited about working with them."

Chris Spencer , the chief executive of Wizzard Software, read about the auction in a newspaper just hours before it was to close. Spencer contacted Danielle Lewis , the company's marketing director in its Pittsburgh office. She spent the afternoon and evening determined to win Nelson's services, posting an initial bid of $6,100 at close to 5 p.m., three hours before the auction's end. Lewis sent in the winning bid fewer than two minutes before the auction's close .

-- Amy Shipley


© 2005 The Washington Post Company

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