By Luke Conway
In the fourth episode of Zone In, hosts Chase Griffin and Kayvon Thibodeaux are joined by Jordan Chiles, an Olympic gymnastics medalist who’s also a UCLA athlete. The three discuss how a strong foundation of financial literacy can start with family at home and set an athlete up for future success.
Jordan has been a member of the U.S. Women's National Team in gymnastics since 2013. She moved to Texas when she was 18 to start her Olympic journey with Simone Biles and her coaches at World Champions Center. Since then, she’s become a UCLA Bruin, and today she goes back and forth between the international side of gymnastics and college gymnastics. About getting to work with Simone, Jordan says, “Honestly, it's just been an amazing experience having somebody that you've always looked up to being so close to you who encourages you… it’s just an exciting feeling.”
Finding her financial footing
As someone who straddles two worlds – elite college sports and Olympic-level pro sports – Jordan has had a unique opportunity to see the marketing and financial angles from two perspectives. She says she’s done deals from both angles, and each offers benefits. On the pro side, she says, bigger deals are possible. But she does about half of her deals on the college side. “Honestly, I feel like it's been pretty good knowing that I have UCLA gymnastics behind my back, you know, obviously helping me with deals and their interviews and everything that kind of comes along with being a student athlete,” she tells Chase and Kayvon.
From the beginning, she says, she’s worked hard to be financially savvy and prudent. “And then obviously, just being able to kind of look back on the financial things and making sure that time management is okay and controlling how you want to set your goals,” she explains. “And that's what I've learned, just being an elite athlete and also a pro athlete. I basically work three jobs at this point, and understanding that a young age definitely makes me put a perspective in place: Okay, by the time I'm 25, what am I going to do? By the time I'm 30, what am I going to do?”
In terms of managing her money, Jordan says her parents have been her guides. “My family is very business oriented,” she says. “My mom is a property manager/owner, and so for her to learn that at a young age, she obviously taught my family like, okay, this is what you have to do in order to succeed bigger than what we've done as your parents. And so keeping that in mind, my dad actually taught me about the whole savings situation because he told me, you know what, I wish I did this at your age, so I'm going to teach you how to do it now.”
Jordan says she took her dad’s advice to heart and started saving when she first started earning money from endorsements and other deals. “And so I basically was like, okay, I'm going to follow that,” she recalls. “So I take a percentage of whatever I get from a contract or whatever, put it in my savings, and just keep doing that because you obviously can live off of your savings if you know how to put your savings together the right way.”
Jordan says family support has been essential to her journey. “I'm all about support,” she tells Chase and Kayvon. “My sisters are in my circle, my mom's my social media manager, my dad's my security guard.” She feels the same connection with non-related members of her management team, and says her agent is like a second mom. “This is really cool because she can understand maybe what I'm going through that day or really push on me [and say], ‘Okay, I know you're going through a tough time, but let's try to figure this out with the whole deal situation.’”
As for the future, Jordan says she’s going to see what comes. One aspiration she’s always had is to be a real estate agent. “But obviously, I'm just going to see where life takes me,” she says. “Whether it's teaching kids how to do flips or giving advice to kids in the hospitals or giving back to charities or just helping out foundations or even doing podcasts. I just want to be able to say when I leave the earth, I was able to leave an impact in every single area that I know I'm dedicated to.”