An American runner has successfully auctioned off ad space on his shoulder for which he will get a tattoo on the eve of the Rio Olympics.

Nick Symmonds auctioned '9 square inches of skin on an Olympian' on eBay, with the winning bid reaching US$21,800 (NZ$).

According to USA Today the winning bid was made by T-Mobile CEO John Legere.

The 32-year-old is a middle distance runner who took silver in the 800m at the 2013 world championships.

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Symmonds pulled the same stunt in 2012, selling ad space for $11,000 but the tattoo had to be covered up to IOC regulations. Symmonds argued that the tape added more attention to the winning bidder which was company Hanson Dodge Creative.

"Due to antiquated rules, during all IAAF, USOC, and IOC governed competitions, I will be forced to tape over all forms of advertising on my body except the logos of my apparel and equipment manufacturers," Symmonds wrote in the eBay description.

"Though these absurd rules certainly diminish an investment in an athlete, please know that I will put in extra effort to ensure that the winner of this auction realizes a fantastic return on investment."

Symmonds has yet to qualify for the Rio Olympics with the U.S. track and field trials taking place in July.