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Simone Biles leaves Nike to partner with Gap's Athleta brand

The Diversity Dilemma
The Diversity Dilemma 27:11

Gymnast Simone Biles is leaving Nike to strike up an exclusive marketing deal with Gap's Athleta, an activewear brand that focuses on women and girls. 

Biles will create her own line of activewear for Athleta, the company said in a statement on Friday. The terms of the deal weren't disclosed. 

The gymnast's switch ends a partnership with Nike that began in 2015 and marks an unusual departure for a top athlete, given that Athleta is dwarfed in size by Nike, a company with a market value of $204 billion. Gap is valued at $12 billion. But Athleta has proved popular with women, with Gap saying last month that it expects the brand to double sales in the next two years. 

Biles will focus on Athleta Girl, a line of athletic wear for girls, including creating a signature line of clothing for younger consumers. In an Instagram post, the gymnast said she was drawn to Athleta's focus on women and girls as well as the brand's commitment to diversity. 

She also highlighted that the company is a so-called B corporation, a type of business that's pledged to focus on social purposes as well as profits. 

"They are committed to diversity and inclusion, which was really important for me to see in a partner," Biles said of Athleta. "They have a team that's primarily women, and that's how they design their products."

60 Seconds with Simone Biles 01:00

Nike has dealt with issues of sexism and discrimination with women athletes, including with runner Allyson Felix, who has since partnered with Athleta. Felix wrote about her struggles with Nike after she started a family, with the athletic company offering her less pay after childbirth. 

After an outcry, Nike announced a new policy that guaranteed an athlete's pay and bonuses for 18 months around pregnancy.

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