PUBLISHED: 10:07 EST, 15 August 2012 | UPDATED: 07:25 EST, 16 August 2012
- Staff Sergeant Timothy Douglas and his family were not given tickets to watch Gabby in the Olympic Games
- Her mother Natalie Hawkins filed for bankruptcy earlier this year after growing debts
- Mr Douglas was arrested for child neglect in March and plead no contest
The parents of U.S. Olympics sensation Gabby Douglas are locked in a bitter feud over the gold medal-winning gymnast’s lucrative endorsement deals, it was claimed today.
Insiders have told the National Enquirer that over the next few years, the 16-year-old stands to earn $10million in sponsorship and endorsements and over $100million during her lifetime.
Tensions are already strained between her mother Natalie Hawkins and her estranged serviceman husband Timothy Douglas after he abandoned Ms Hawkins and her four children years ago and, according to Gabby, rarely paid child support.
Now, sources say, ‘both sides of Gabby’s family are jockeying to be in good standing with the goose that laid the golden egg. Meanwhile, poor Gabby is caught in the middle.’
Feuding: While Mr Douglas has hit back at critics of his parenting, sources have revealed that he and Gabby’s mother, Natalie Hawkins, are competing for her favour ahead of lucrative endorsement deals
The revelation comes just a week after Mr Douglas hit out against criticism over his parenting abilities following an arrest for contributing to the delinquency of a child.
The two families have been publicly warring since it was revealed that the gymnast did not buy her father or his family tickets to the events in London even though they travelled to see her.
Gabby’s paternal grandmother May Douglas told the Enquirer: ‘We don’t know how many tickets were given, and how they were given, we only know they were not given to us.’
A separate source added: ‘Timothy and his family suspect Natalie had everything to do with them not being able to gain access to Gabby’s competitions, and they’re furious about being cut out!’
Celebrity: Gabby in New York at the David Letterman Show on Tuesday
Just which brands Gabby will be endorsing is still unknown.
The photogenic teen has already signed with Kellogg’s and Proctor & Gamble but as ESPNpointed out, the fact that she was not approached for endorsement before winning two gold medals will only work to her advantage.
Gabby’s agent, Cheryl Shade told ESPN: ‘It was definitely to her advantage that the focus was on Wieber prior to the Games. Since she had her coming out at the American Cup in March, most Olympic sponsors had already finalized their campaigns.’
She added: ‘Gabrielle competes in 2016, so she will not have the time to make appearances and/or endorse products as much. However, the next six months will be very lucrative.’
Aside from being featured on the Kellogg’s Cornflakes box celebrating her Olympic wins, cosmetics and pharmaceutical giant, Proctor & Gamble did a deal when she made the U.S. team.
According to NBC, a spokesman for the company told Ad age in an email: ‘She’s signed to represent the overall P&G brand, as well as our beauty brands (Olay, Pantene, CoverGirl, Secret).’
Beauty won’t be the only area of interest to brands vying for endorsement from the first African-American woman to win all-around gymnastics gold.
On the verge of getting her driver’s licence, the excitable Olympian told USA Today: ‘I do want an Acura NSX. White, just like the roadster Iron Man drove in “The Avengers.” Ms Shade concurred that she is a likely candidate for car brand deal.
McDonald’s may want a slice of the action too after Gabby admitted on Jay Leno recently that her celebrations included indulging in an Egg McMuffin.
She also likes orange juice and peanut butter, her agent told ESPN, and loves technology and fashion.
Her brother caught the media’s attention with his tweets about a reality show which though unsubstantiated, could also present an opportunity for Gabby.
Having appeared on a host of chat shows, the young star is certainly enjoying her new found fame and isn’t shy in admitting her delight at the thought of the extra income.
She told the Des Moines Register after winning her prized medals: ‘People were like, “Gabby’s going to smile all the way to the bank.” I remember reading that, and I’m like, “Oh, my God, I have to stop. I’m going to foam at the mouth with all this money”.
‘I just have to learn how to save it and control myself. I wasn’t the richest kid on the block and my family struggled a little bit. We went through some very tough times… But I’m so happy that I stuck with it and can bring my family out of the financial situations.’
Mr Douglas meanwhile has been trying to make amends with his daughter through the media and has been quoted by the National Enquirer as saying: ‘I feel like I’ve been the best father that I can be to my daughter and to my family.’
And despite their issues, he was quick to gush about his little girl.
‘I am so proud of my daughter and everything she has accomplished,’ he said to the publication. ‘So much has happened over the past few weeks that I need to just slow down and take a breath!’
Golden girls: The “Fierce 5” Gold Medal Winning U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team have returned to a rapturous reception from the country and the media
Fame: (From left) Jordyn Wieber, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, Kyla Ross and Gabby Douglas, ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange yesterday
He added: ‘Words can’t describe all the love and happiness I have in my heart for her right now.’
When pressed about his child neglect arrest, he took the high road, saying: ‘I’m trying to keep things positive right now, because there have been a lot of things said about me.’
His brother Lawrence rushed to his defense.
‘My brother has really been taking a lot of heat lately and most of it hasn’t been deserved,’ he said, addding: ‘Timothy is striving to be a better father and a better person.’
Last week, the MailOnline revealed that as Gabby Douglas was training in Iowa for her future Olympic victory in London, charges against her father indicated that he had either neglected or abused a minor, the details of which and identity of whom is unknown.
Mr Douglas, an Air National Guardsman, was arrested on March 8 of this year and after pleading no contest on May 9, filed a one year deferment until May 13, 2013.
On top of the world: The gymnastic stars stand at the top of the Empire State yesterday during an exciting day of non-stop media appearances
Gabby has spoken out about her father at length and has told reporters how he abandoned her mother and her three siblings at an early age, leaving the family to struggle financially for years.
The tough situation often got the gymnast so down that she considered quitting her Olympics dream, she revealed.
In fact, her mother, Ms Hawkins, filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, according to documents seen by TMZ. The documents show she has debt totalling $79,754.14.
‘It was really hard for us growing up – my dad had left us, so he wasn’t really in the picture anymore,’ she told the New York Post about her father who was first deployed when she was just nine years old.
‘So my mom had to front all these bills. My dad didn’t really pay the child support. He was short [on money]. It was definitely hard on her part and she had to take care of me and the rest of my siblings.’
In the divorce filings, submitted by Ms Hawkins in 2009, the couple resolved an agreement for the children’s college room, board and tuition, but Mr Douglas demanded joint custody and refused to offer Ms Hawkins any spousal support.
Unknown: As Gabby Douglas was training hard for her future Olympic victory in London, her father Timothy Douglas was getting into trouble with the law
Trials: Gabby had not seen her father, Staff Sergeant Timothy Douglas (pictured), for two years when he appeared at the U.S. Olympic trials in June to cheer her along
Support: Gabby’s mother Natalie Hawkins, bottom center, cheers for her daughter besides gymnast Shawn Johnson, right, Gabby’s brother John, center, Arielle, right, and Joy, far right
The family struggled especially when it came to paying for her training, with Ms Hawkins alone in their Virginia Beach home.
‘Gymnastics is an expensive sport,’ Ms Hawkins has said. The family applied for military scholarships to help fund Gabby’s training.
In 2006, she received a $500 grant from Our Military Kids, a non-profit that helps fund children’s activities while their parents are overseas. That funding paid for her to attend a gymnastics camp in Texas with renowned coaches Bela and Marta Karolyi – who helped her win the gold in London.
HOW COULD GABBY MAKE HER MILLIONS?
- Gabby already has a lucrative deal with Kellogg’s made before the Games and contingent upon her gold medal win
- Proctor & Gamble made a last minute deal when she joined the team and has announced she will represent its beauty brands
- Soon to be a licenced driver, Gabby’s agent Sheryl Shade has indicated she is ready for a car brand pitch
- Gabby’s brother has tweeted in the past about a reality show
- Ms Shade has also revealed Gabby loves orange juice, peanut butter, technology and fashion
- On a recent Jay Leno show, the gymnast admitted her indulgence is a McDonald’s Egg McMuffin
‘In the grand scheme of things, $500 may not seem like that much money, but it made the difference between keeping Gabby at home and sending her to a camp that would play a part in molding her into the Olympic gymnast she is today,’ Ms Hawkins explained.
After the camp, Gabby told her mom, Natalie Hawkins, that she wanted to move from their home in Virginia Beach, Virginia, to train with Chow, who coached Shawn Johnson in 2008.
Ms Hawkins said absolutely not; there was no way she was allowing the youngest of her four children to move halfway across the country at 14.
But Gabby’s two older sisters lobbied on her behalf, giving their mother a list of reasons why Gabby should be allowed to go. The only reason to stay: They would miss her.
Ms Hawkins finally relented, but not without many second thoughts, including: ‘That I was crazy. I must have lost my marbles. But she wanted this more than anything.’
Reflecting on the journey that brought her the gold, Gabby seemed wiser than her years.
‘I just want people to know it took a lot,’ she said to Today.
‘It took a lot of hard days in the gym and determination, passion and drive. Gold medals are made out of your sweat, blood and tears, and effort in the gym every day, and sacrificing a lot.’
Gabby’s more recent bitter tone marked a change from the excitement she displayed earlier in the year after seeing her father for the first time in two years when he pitched up to the June Olympic trials to support her.
She told the Des Moines Register: ‘I’m like, “Who’s calling my name?” And then I look up, it was my dad and his friend, and I haven’t seen him in awhile.’
‘They were holding up the flag. And I almost fell like bawling. I was like, “Oh, my gosh, Dad!”‘
Home: At the time of their divorce, Ms Hawkins lived in the house second from the left with her four children
Father: Mr Douglas lived in this home in Chesapeake, Virginia
Childhood: Mr Douglas first left the family – and a mountain of bills – when Gabby was just nine
Her father’s absence had haunted the teenager, who struggled to perform to the best of her abilities without her father by her side, and would often wake up with anxiety that he was at war in Iraq.
Triumph: Thanks to her gold, Gabrielle Douglas will appear on special Olympics cereal boxes
While living with her coach in Iowa, she would wake up and rush to her computer and try to contact him on Skype.
‘[I] just had bad days in the gym, thinking about my dad,’ she said to NBC before the Olympics. ‘I’m just like “Whoa, what if he doesn’t come back [from Iraq]?” I was just horrified. I prayed every night.’
Earlier this year, she twisted her ankle at the Pacific Rim Championships in March. Her father’s absence and her injury caused her to contemplate quitting.
‘It was pretty drastic. She really, really sounded very serious about it,’ said Gabby’s sister, Arielle Hawkins.
She forged ahead anyway, competing with a heavy weight on her heart.
Serving in the 203rd Red Horse civil engineering squadron in Afghanistan, Mr Douglas would watch YouTube videos of his daughter’s routines on the dial-up internet available in Kandahar.
Watching his daughter perform in June so perfectly for the first time in real life was almost too much for the military man.
‘There’s an exuberance. There’s a feeling that you can’t describe,’ Mr Douglas said. ‘I just missed her so much.’
‘Sometimes, when she had a rough time, I’d tell her to hang in there. “You know what it takes to be a winner, you know what your goals are. You just keep on your goals”.’
For Gabby seeing her father had put the skip back in her step.
Must-see TV: Experts say that Americans may have felt more compelled to watch the Olympics knowing that athletes like Gabby Douglas were going to win gold
Mother: Gabby forged ahead anyway, competing with a heavy weight on her heart. Ms Hawkins is seen at center
‘Before my floor and bar routine, I was like, “OK, you’ve got to get it together,”‘ Gabby said.
Watching her perform, he held up an American flag with the words: ‘I love America. God bless our Troops. Go Team USA. Go Gabby Douglasd. Love, Dad.’
‘Seeing him made my night, actually,’ Gabby said.
He told the Des Moines Register that he would try to make it to London to watch his girl try for the gold, but when he went he and his family were not provided with tickets.