by Matt Weik
2020 is going to be an interesting year for bodybuilding and the IFBB. Not only are people curious to see who will compete at the 2020 Mr. Olympia competition, but I believe even more people are interested in knowing who will be at Athleticon.
For those who haven’t heard, The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) and his business partner Dany Garcia created a new (supposedly IFBB sanctioned) event that will be held in Atlanta, GA October 9-11, 2020. Now, nothing has been released just yet as to what events will take place, but being that the IFBB is supposed to be involved makes you wonder if this will resemble The Arnold Sports Festival in a way?
Getting to the meat and potatoes of this article, as the title says, I (personally) believe that Athleticon will be bigger than the Mr. Olympia. Below are my reasons why.
People are interested in everything The Rock has his hands in
Wrestling, movies, you name it – anything Dwayne Johnson touches is exciting. Heck, 2020 could be amazing if he tossed his hat in the ring to be the next President of the United States. But in all seriousness, the man draws attention. Know for his action and dedication to every project he is attached to, Dwayne knows what can help and hurt his career. His actions are calculated and being so active and into sports, it only makes sense for him to pursue such a competition with his name attached.
This will probably be televised
You never see bodybuilding shows televised as there is some sort of stigma around bodybuilders today possibly due to steroid use. However, The Rock understands that in order for his competition to be a success, he’s probably going to need nationwide attention and eyeballs on it. Which means a televised production. This could be a great thing for the sport of bodybuilding and fitness in general as it will make fitness look fun as well as be an entertaining show.
The Rock is better marketer than AMI
If you asked 100 people across the US who AMI is or what they do, I’m willing to bet less than 5% would know. Ask the same group who The Rock is, and probably 95% if not higher know who he is. Look at social media and who’s killing it. The Rock… he’s on fire. AMI, well, are they even on social media? Putting ads in magazines is a dud. No one reads print magazines anymore. And you never see an Olympia television commercial. Should The Rock get the backing of a television station wanting to broadcast it, you know there will be tons of commercials on many different stations. Plus, The Rock will promotion Athleticon on his social media and get it in front of millions of eyeballs, something AMI could never do.
No one knows who will actually compete in the 2020 Mr. Olympia
Will Shawn Rhoden be able to compete at the Olympia in 2020? Who knows? Will Phil come back? Will Kai ever return? Will Big Ramy actually qualify in 2020? With so many questions, it sort of diminishes the excitement of the show. In all honesty, I wasn’t excited to really even watch the 2019 Mr. Olympia. Sure, the men’s open division was wide open to the field, but it just isn’t the same as having someone defending their title or even have a major player like Phil Heath be on stage. If someone is debating spending their money on a trip in 2020, I can easily see them going to Athleticon (being the new, exciting show) and people skipping the Olympia. Athleticon will also have supplement companies there with booths, so samples will be available. Additionally, it is rumored that the payout for events will be MUCH larger than at the Olympia – more prize money always brings more interest in competing.
Athleticon should be more mainstream with diverse events
What brings excitement to The Arnold Classic in Columbus, OH is the fact that it’s a sports festival. It’s not just fitness at the show, they have many various sporting events and competitions – essentially, something for everyone and an event you can take the entire family to. This draws a huge crowd. Similarly, Athleticon seems to be mimicking this very strategy which is extremely smart on their part. Combine athletics, entertainment, and fitness all under one roof and you have a competition that is extremely mainstream.
Supplement companies are passing on the Olympia Expo for Athleticon
I work with MANY supplement companies (which I cannot disclose each of them), and they are going into 2020 with high hopes of getting some grand attention at Athleticon. So much so, that some of them are bowing out of the 2020 Mr. Olympia to put their money towards Athleticon – a more mainstream event and competition. I have not been privy to the cost of having a booth at Athleticon but I do know the Olympia is not cheap to be a part of and many brands will tell you the expo is dying, not as many brands are showing up, and most brands never see an ROI on their investment. Will they show an ROI at Athleticon? That’s yet to be seen or determined but being a mainstream event, I believe it will get all of the brands out in front of the masses to be seen.
In the end, if I were the Mr. Olympia, I would be slightly concerned. Yes, you’re still the Super Bowl of Bodybuilding but Athleticon could create an “All-Star Game” excitement factor that could overshadow your competition.