Everybody expected an American to win the gold medal in the women’s Olympic gymnastics all-around.
Nobody expected it to be Sunisa Lee.
With Simone Biles pulling out of the individual all-around to tend to her mental health, the 18-year-old Lee carried on America’s dominance, narrowly beating out Brazilian Rebeca Andrade and Russian Angelina Melnikova.
The Minnesota native is now in position to become the new face of gymnastics, following in the footsteps of the last four all-around gold medalists: Carly Patterson, Nastia Liukin, Gabby Douglas, and Biles.
Biles’ dominance is legendary. The only major international competition she hadn’t won since 2013 was the 2017 world championships, when she chose not to compete after taking time off following Rio 2016.
The $37,500 bonus for winning gold isn’t life-changing, but a repeat performance by Lee at the 2024 Olympics in Paris could lift her into the rarefied air of her teammate in terms of marketability: Biles’ endorsements have contributed to her $6 million estimated net worth.
And even with an uncertain future, Biles’ sponsors — Athleta, Core Power, Visa, Nabisco, and Uber Eats, among others — have made it clear they remain fully supportive of her as an athlete whether she competes or not.