Inside the Incredible Growth of the Olympia

Inside the Incredible Growth of the Olympia

In the world of fit bodies and muscular physiques, there is no name that shines brighter than the Olympia. Created nearly 60 years ago by bodybuilding pioneer Joe Weider, the Olympia logo has become the ultimate symbol of achievement, earning the distinction as the most prestigious event brand in the category. As companies maneuver to secure their spot at the Olympia Expo, the overall brand thrives partly because there is no title more coveted or no stage more prestigious.

Courtesy of mrolympiallc

Just how popular is the Olympia? Popular enough to completely sell out their Saturday evening main events during the two pandemic years of 2020 and 2021. Strong enough to raise prize money above 1.6 million dollars, more than twice as much as the fitness industry’s next biggest event. And ambitious enough to deliver a stage production that rivals a rock concert, while giving way to the largest pay-per-view audience in the sport. A year ago, Olympia Weekend set records for total sponsorships, but that doesn’t even begin to tell the whole story.

In 2018, long time media and production industry insider Dan Solomon was hired to take the reins of the Olympia, a move that signaled a shift in how the brand was managed. “For many years, the Olympia was viewed simply as a world championship event.” Solomon explains. “When I took the job, my objective was to turn the Olympia into a year round, multifaceted brand, not just a weekend event. The results so far have been extremely positive.”

As Olympia Weekend continues to grow in every way possible, the 365 day strategy has been nothing short of remarkable. In 2019, the Olympia apparel line was launched and it didn’t take long for Olympia logo merchandise to become the hottest products on the market, a sign of how strong the brand has become globally. And that was just the beginning. The Olympia licensing program continues to gain momentum throughout the world with deals in place for equipment and other commercial initiatives. The Amateur Olympia program has grown into the largest amateur event franchise in the world, with more than 5,000 athletes competing at NPC sanctioned events in 12 countries, with more planned in the years to come.

Female bodybuilder and 2021 Olympia Winner Whitney Jones
Courtesy of Olympia

While growing the largest social media reach of any fitness event in the world, the Olympia enjoys a powerful partnership with the NPC and the IFBB Professional League, the world’s top competitive physique organizations. To put it simply, all roads lead to the Olympia, a reality cemented by an athlete qualification system that positions the event as the “Superbowl” of bodybuilding, fitness and physique competition.

Jim Manion, the man who sits atop both competitive organizations, has watched closely as the Olympia continues to raise the bar. “The Olympia is a one of a kind experience” explains Manion. “There’s a sense of history, prestige and a level of production that make it special. Fans dream of being there and athletes dream of walking on that stage. It’s bodybuilding’s holy grail, it’s the mountain top.”

In 2020 the Olympia was acquired by Jake Wood, one of the industry’s most passionate supporters. Since the acquisition, the event has benefited by his vision and a commitment to deliver more value in several areas, highlighted by increases in production budgets and prize money. With Solomon tasked with overseeing all phases of the Olympia, the team is bolstered by production guru Tamer El-Guindy, VP Angelica Nebbia and a powerhouse production team.

The growth of the show hasn’t gone unnoticed by top brands and celebrities, as more and more are lining up for opportunities to capitalize on the fitness industry’s most celebrated tradition. This year’s event, set for December, brings the Olympia to the heart of the Las Vegas Strip at the Planet Hollywood Resort, home to the Zappos Theater, one of the top entertainment venues in Vegas. The Olympia World Fitness Expo will take place up the street at the Venetian Convention Center (formerly known as the Sands Convention Center). An event that started in an auditorium back in 1965 is now being staged at the top venues in the world, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down.

2021 Female Bodybuilding Competitor Whitney Jones at the 2021 Olympia Press Conference
Courtesy of Olympia

As crowds have grown, so has the number of A-List celebrities who have been spotted at the Olympia in recent years, a list that includes Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Dave Bautista, Marcus Allen and other notables from the world of music, sports and entertainment.

Sponsor and exhibitor opportunities are now available for this year’s event. VIP Packages have already sold out, but regular tickets are on sale now.

Solomon adds, “There’s nothing more gratifying than meeting fans who are attending the Olympia for the first time. Seeing their raw emotion and hearing their stories of inspiration and motivation is nothing short of amazing. We are taking things to a whole new level this December.”

Visit for all the details, including tickets and sponsorship opportunities. But don’t delay, the good seats sell out fast and the premium exhibitor locations won’t last long.

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