Swimming sensation Katie Ledecky is passing up on a estimated $7 million in endorsements.

The reason: She just wants to be a normal college kid.

"I've always wanted to swim collegiately and have that experience," Ledecky, 19, told ESPN Radio. "I think it is going to be a lot of fun to be on a team with some really great friends and great swimmers and also just go to class with them."

Ledecky, who begins her freshman year at Stanford University soon, won an impressive five medals at the Rio Olympics: four gold and one silver. That kind of haul could have made her a millionaire if she left the amateur ranks, one expert estimated.


Ledecky "could command as much as $7 million annually in endorsement income by turning pro, especially given that at just age 19, she has the opportunity to win gold in two, or even three more Olympic Games," sports marketing expert Bob Dorfman told ESPN.

"Obviously, the challenge is maintaining high visibility during non-Olympic years, but with her personality and likability, combined with the ever-growing influence of social media, the potential for longer-term deals is there."

That estimate came even before Ledecky blew away a few records on her way to Olympic supremacy.

She tied as the most decorated US female athlete in Rio along with gymnast Simone Biles and just short of Michael Phelps for the most among Americans.

Ledecky became the first woman since 1968 to win gold in the 200m, 400m and 800m freestyles in the same Olympics. She set new world records in the latter two races. The swimming sensation also earned medals in two freestyle relays: gold in the 800m and silver in the 400m.

On Wednesday Ledecky, a Maryland native, threw the ceremonial first pitch at Nationals Park before the Baltimore Orioles beat the Washington Nationals on Wednesday.

Before Ledecky's first pitch, a tribute played on the video board, featuring a clip of her world record-shattering victory in the 800m freestyle performance in Rio when she won by more than 11 seconds.

Ledecky got a warm reception on the field 20 minutes before the start of the game but a rousing standing ovation when she was shown on the video board before the fifth inning. Fans cheered and broke out in chants of "U-S-A! U-S-A!"

She said her accomplishments in Rio are "slowly but surely" sinking in, only days after the closing ceremony.

"I expect it'll sink in as we move forward the next couple weeks. Once I get back in the pool and start working toward my next goals, I know you just kind of have to put everything you've done behind you and start working toward the next thing."

Daily Mail