The Top of the Mountain
A status, an identity, a legacy. The Power of the Olympia.
By Dan Solomon
Every sport has its mountain top, its highest achievement. Baseball has the World Series. In football it’s the Superbowl, hockey has its Stanley Cup….and in bodybuilding it’s the Olympia, the title that changes lives, builds legacies, and allows someone to call themself the BEST in the WORLD.
More than just an event, the Olympia sits atop a year-round qualification system that connects more than 300 sanctioned contests held in cities around the world. From New York to Dubai to Columbus to Los Angeles, and places in between – the road to the Olympia is where you’ll find the biggest stories and the biggest dreams.
An Olympia title is an identity. Phil Heath wears 7X as a badge of honor and Dexter Jackson’s legacy was sealed the night he became Mr. O. It only takes one. Joe Weider knew what he was doing when he set these wheels in motion. President Bill Clinton was so impressed by Lee Haney’s eight Olympia titles that he appointed him Chairman of the President’s Council on Fitness. The list goes on. It’s not just a victory. It’s a status, an identity, a legacy.
I recently visited the Instagram page of Arnold Schwarzenegger, a man who has achieved more than few could dream. I smiled when I noticed the first words listed on Arnold’s IG profile, “Former Mr. Olympia”.
Imagine that. This man was elected Governor. He’s the Terminator. His movies have grossed billions, but amid all his conquests his Olympia title is the first accolade he listed on his bio. All of us here at the Olympia are grateful to our 7-time champion for the millions he inspires.
Who won the Mr. Olympia in 1998 or 1980 or 2006? I’ll bet it didn’t take you long to answer. That’s what makes the Olympia special. We remember the dates, we know where we were the night Ronnie won. We’ve seen Pumping Iron enough times to recite the story of the 1975 Mr. Olympia, and we’ll never forget the night Cutler finally conquered Coleman, or the moment Heath turned the tables on Cutler. Olympia moments are seldom forgotten.
The strength of the brand was on full display when more than 700 athletes entered the recent Amateur Olympia in Las Vegas, or when owner Jake Wood commits to nearly $1.7 million in prize money each year, while maintaining profitability, on the shoulders of record ticket sales and sponsorship packages that include fully integrated media components, powered by a media portfolio that includes Muscle & Fitness.
During the Covid years, while events around the world retreated, the Olympia went all-in with a full stage production and major celebrities in the building. Every ticket was sold.
As bodybuilding reaches new levels of popularity, Jim Manion’s IFBB Pro League keeps growing, and the Olympia has grown with it. More divisions, new sponsors, upgraded venues, and continuous brand expansion. The Olympia’s licensing program continues its momentum with companies worldwide seeking to capitalize on the power of the brand, including an Olympia apparel line that remains one of the fastest growing in the category. Last year, more than 5,000 athletes competed at Amateur Olympias held around the world.
The Olympia arrived in the mid-1960’s. The Superbowl followed soon after. And for nearly 60 years they have each stood tall as their sport’s most coveted prize, the holy grail, a bucket-list experience for all who participate and all who attend. The title that changes lives.
The top of the mountain.