Lance Armstrong: Bill Stapleton

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The third most desired athlete for sports sponsorship doesn't do the obvious like hitting a golf ball or shooting a basketball. Instead, he straddles two wheels. Professional cyclist Lance Armstrong is the one athlete who breaks that mold. He follows only Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan for sponsorship appeal, according to a survey by Burns Sports & Celebrities, a sports management company.

Why? Because unlike other athletes, Mr. Armstrong has a real story to tell, given his battle with testicular cancer. Since then he has made a remarkable comeback in three times winning the Tour de France, the biggest bike race in the world.

"Most athletes don't have a story, they have accomplishments," says Bill Stapleton, general partner of Capital Sports Ventures, Mr. Armstrong's management company. "But Lance really has a story. That's the reason he is so attractive. [His cancer battle] has touched them personally."

The sponsor roster has grown this year. Coca-Cola Co. was added, giving Mr. Armstrong four main deals. Coca-Cola joined Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Nike and the U.S. Postal Service, which also sponsors his team, says Mr. Stapleton, 35, who practiced law in Austin, Texas, before opening Capital and becoming Mr. Armstrong's point person. All this brings in about $10 million a year in sponsorships, according to estimates.

"He has overcome adversity, [something] every consumer can relate to-females as well as male," says Bob Williams, president of Burns Sports. "The cancer has transcended sports. It has put him on a level that is far different from other athletes."

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