It had been rumored for years, but today it’s official. AMI and David Pecker sold Joe Weider’s Olympia Fitness & Performance Weekend as well as the Muscle & Fitness, FLEX and M&F Hers media brands. The buyer is Jake Wood, an Arizona-based fitness industry insider whose growing portfolio includes digital media and event properties. Wood, long a supporter of female bodybuilding, owns DigitalMuscle.com and co-founded the Show of Strength contests. Our source pegged the sale price at around $70 million.
“My primary motivation for acquiring the Olympia is to bring the event back to the fans,” explains Wood. “It’s a dream come true to take ownership of some of the fitness industry’s most celebrated brands. Our ability to also acquire a media portfolio that includes Muscle & Fitness allows us to reach one of the largest fitness-minded audiences in the world. This is a great day for everyone who shares a passion for fitness, nutrition, training and the bodybuilding lifestyle.”
It was also announced today that Dan Solomon, hired in 2018 to oversee the overall Olympia property, has agreed to a five-year contract extension and will serve as President and Chief Olympia Officer under new ownership. In addition to his oversight of the Olympia, Solomon will also manage the integration and strategy for the newly acquired media portfolio, including Muscle & Fitness.
Solomon explains, “We have achieved something incredibly powerful. The deal has been carefully crafted, clearing the way for us to offer sponsors and advertisers one of the largest combined audiences in the entire category. As we roll out a wide-reaching media and event integration, we also add key resources brought to the table by our new owner. Jake is a visionary and his track record for success speaks for itself. Our sponsors, exhibitors, athletes, readers and fans will be pleased by what the immediate future holds.”
I worked at FLEX for 20 years, so I have some mixed feelings about news from my inside source that all of the New York magazine staff was laid off today, and Muscle & Fitness (the last surviving print mag, launched with its new name in 1980) will not be continuing in paper form. Joe Weider began Your Physique (the forerunner to Muscle & Fitness, Flex, etc.) 80 years ago, so it’s sad to think, after eight decades, there will no longer be a print magazine in the iconic line he launched. And yet it was inevitable. Virtually all muscle and fitness magazines have died in recent years. Worse is knowing that many of my past co-workers had a shockingly sad Valentine’s Day.
I am, however, happy to hear the Olympia is under new ownership, and that that owner is himself a bodybuilder and bodybuilding fan (unlike Pecker). We trust under his and Dan Solomon’s leadership the Olympia will grow and thrive. Onward and upward.