Sam Zell Looks to Cash in on Rio's Games

Rio Games a winner for Chicago businesses

By Steve Rhodes
|  Wednesday, Oct 14, 2009  |  Updated 2:09 PM CDT
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Sam Zell is doing the samba all over the Chicago 2016 bid.

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Why Rio?

Few cities are more beautiful, or more dangerous, but many believe that Rio de Janeiro is Chicago's biggest competitor for the 2016 Summer Games.
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The Grave Dancer strikes again. And this time he's dancing on the grave of Chicago's 2016 Olympic bid.

Sam Zell - nicknamed the Grave Dancer for his unique skill in prospering from undervalued assets considered dead - is poised to strike it big from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

"Our enthusiasm and passion for Brazil are just so extraordinary that we were just rooting for Rio," Zell's overseas investment manager Gary Garrabrant told Crain's.

Make that an enthusiasm and passion for great profits. Zell apparently stands to make far more from his holdings in Brazil's biggest real estate companies than he would from any holdings here in Chicago when it comes to Olympic impact.

And Zell isn't alone among Illinoisans dancing the samba upon news of Chicago losing the bid.

Crain's says Caterpillar, Kraft, Motorola, Archer Daniels Midland and General Growth Properties are among the concerns who could profit mightily from the Rio games.

"The economic impact for the corporations is far greater in Brazil than it would have been in Chicago," 21 Sports & Entertainment Marketing Group CEO Rob Prazmark told the publication.

That's because Brazil is still a developing market for many American companies; the upside is much larger than it would be here where products are familiar and demand is largely being met.

Even better for us is the fact that the Olympics is almost always a huge money-loser for host cities. Better to just be a visitor and leave with your wallet intact, if not bulging.

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.

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