Simone Biles has announced that she’s officially ending her six-year Nike endorsement deal to enter a new apparel partnership with Athleta, which she believes will more closely align with her personal values, Wall Street Journal reports.
“I felt like it wasn’t just about my achievements, it’s what I stood for and how they were going to help me use my voice and also be a voice for females and kids,” she told Wall Street Journal in response to what attracted her to Athleta. “I feel like they also support me, not just as an athlete, but just as an individual outside of the gym and the change that I want to create, which is so refreshing.”
According to the news outlet, Biles’s new deal with Athleta will include her own performance wear line, as well as other sponsorship opportunities where the brand will offer the gymnast a platform to participate in”honest conversations” with young girls and women.
Additionally, Athleta has also pledged to support the post-Olympics gymnastics tour that Biles plans to lead herself, in which she will help reshape professional opportunities for stellar gymnasts in the near future.
In her interview with Wall Street Journal, Biles also notes that she feels more secure in this partnership with Athleta now that she has a predominantly women-led design team on her side and believes she’s joining a brand that’s “truly for women by women.”
She also revealed that when she was younger starting out in professional sports, she truly believed that Nike would be a good brand to partner with as a woman athlete.
“But now that I’m older and kind of in the world a little bit more, I see and I know and I learn and I grow from things, so to partner with Athleta, I think they stand for everything that I stand for…I just thought it was time for a change.”
Biles’ Nike partnership began back in 2015 right before she opted to forgo a college scholarship and pursue her sports career full-time. News of her departure arrives just days after Kobe Bryant’s estate severed ties with Nike as well.