Delta highlights athletes’ Olympics journeys with Team USA sponsorship

Atlanta-based airline’s ads to feature athletes headed to Paris Summer Games
Delta's newest Team USA plane was flown to Atlanta on May 3, 2024. Source: Delta

Credit: Ben Rose/

Credit: Ben Rose/

Delta's newest Team USA plane was flown to Atlanta on May 3, 2024. Source: Delta

Delta Air Lines is using its sponsorship of Team USA to highlight the journeys athletes have taken to reach the Paris Olympics this summer.

Atlanta-based Delta has started airing its Team USA commercials on NBCUniversal channels, and will roll out more as the Olympics begin July 26. NBCUniversal owns the U.S. media rights to the Olympic Games.

The videos feature Paralympic and Olympic athletes preparing and practicing track and field, basketball, beach volleyball and other sports — along with shots of Delta’s plane with a Team USA paint job that’s also part of its sponsorship.

The ads aim to send the message that Delta’s purpose is “connecting people to their potential, connecting people to possibility,” said Delta Chief Marketing Officer Alicia Tillman. The Olympics are a destination, she said, and ”some of these athletes, they’ve spent their whole lives trying to get there. And so the story is really in the journey.”

The spots developed by powerhouse advertising firm Wieden+Kennedy also feature some of the newer Olympic sports. These include breaking (break dancing), which will debut as an Olympic sport in Paris, as well as surfing, skateboarding and sport climbing, which made their Olympic debuts in 2021 in Tokyo.

The athletes in the ads include Atlanta-born track and field star Gabby Thomas, beach volleyball players Sara Hughes and Kelly Cheng, surfer Zoe McDougall, para basketball player Trevon Jenifer, women’s freestyle wrestler Adeline Gray, para swimmer Mallory Weggemann, skateboarder Jagger Eaton, para track and field athlete Derek Loccident, para Taekwondo athlete Evan Medell, para sprint canoer Blake Haxton, breaker Victor Montalvo and climber Brooke Raboutou. Delta is also sponsoring 15 “athlete ambassadors” as part of its sponsorship of Team USA.

Many of them are not celebrities with household names. Tillman said the Delta campaign serves to “just bring them into the public eye a bit more.”

Some of the Team USA athletes will be featured in videos that will air on seat-back video screens on Delta flights.

“Each person’s journey is filled with things like sacrifice and heartache and defeats, and needing to overcome some hardship or adversity. And in these Olympic athletes as an example, every single one of them has this incredible, storied past that has been their journey,” Tillman said.

Delta is not a sponsor of the Paris Olympics, but as the official airline of Team USA, the carrier will fly athletes to the Olympics and Paralympics this year, to Milan for the Winter Games in 2026 and to Los Angeles for the Summer Olympics in 2028. Rival United Airlines had been Team USA’s official airline for about 40 years, before ceding the sponsorship to Delta two years ago.

Delta is a founding sponsor of the LA 2028 Games. The company isn’t disclosing how much it is spending on the Team USA sponsorship, but its Olympic sponsorships combined have been valued at $400 million.

Next week, Delta starts flying nearly 3,000 members of Team USA to Paris, including Olympics and Paralympics athletes, coaches and staff. They’ll board commercial flights to Paris out of Delta hubs in Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City and Detroit, with send-off events to celebrate their trips.

During the Paris Olympics, Delta will also sponsor a lounge at the Team USA house.

In Atlanta and other Delta hub cities Seattle, Boston, New York and Los Angeles, billboards and signs will display the airline’s Team USA ads. At events in some cities, Delta will have a truck showcasing the Olympics with giveaways, including at a Braves game scheduled for Aug. 1 at Truist Park.

Passengers may also notice that the aircraft in the onboard flight tracker on Delta flights has been temporarily updated to be a Team USA plane.

Tillman said she hopes that sharing Olympic athletes’ stories resonates with the public by showing “what it really means to kind of achieve success in sort of this crazy, complicated world that we live in.”

“Even if you don’t have this desire to become an Olympic athlete, there’s something about overcoming adversity, and hard work and sacrifice, that I think all of us as individuals can take away something from it,” she said.