The Tour of Ireland vs Kathy Ireland:
One is a former swimsuit model/actress (ok, so “actress” might be a stretch), the other is a former stage race that runs through the land of James Joyce, Guinness Stout, and hurling (it’s a ball ‘n stick game, not the result of too much stout).
The Tour of Ireland has been held in the month of August, off and on since 1953 (just barely more on than off, actually). In 1985, the race was renamed the Nissan International Classic. The race then enjoyed a stellar eight year run, capturing the height of Irish success in cycling. Legendary hardman Sean Kelly won the race a record 4 times, while countryman Stephen Roche finished 2nd in 1987, the year he won the Giro, the Tour, and the world championships. Interestingly, the race director during those years was Pat McQuaid, today’s reigning…oops, I meant current…UCI president. Following a 15 year hiatus , the Tour of Ireland returned in 2007 but the economic turndown caused it to be shortened to a three-day event in 2009. In June of 2010, it was announced that finances were dire and the race was cancelled. Talk of a 2011 comeback came to naught, and presumedly there will be no 2012 version either.
Kathy Ireland first appeared in Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Edition in 1984 and did so for another 12 years. She appeared on the cover 3 times, including the 25th anniversary edition which became the highest selling swimsuit issue ever. From Wikipedia: “In 1993, Ireland put her name on a line of socks. After they proved a best-seller for Kmart, the retailer gave Ireland her own clothing line. She then founded “Kathy Ireland Worldwide,” a brand product marketing company in which she holds a majority stake. By 2004, Ireland was marketing products from 16 manufacturers, including those of Standard Furniture. Ireland’s long-term exclusive contract with K-mart Corporation lasted until 2003, after which the company contracted with thousands of independent mid-tier retail stores for distribution. By 2005, KIWW products were sold at over 50,000 locations in 15 countries, generating an estimated $1.4 billion in retail sales. Ireland’s annual take is thought to be around $10 million, which has prompted Forbes to name her the ‘prototype for model-turned-mogul,’ in an article about the trend of ‘modelpreneurs.’”
Let’s break it down.
Born: Tour of (1953), Kathy (1963) winner: Kathy (we’re not talking about aged Scotch here)
Sport Illustrated covers: Tour of (0), Kathy (3) winner: Kathy (skin to win)
Financial status: Tour of (broke as f*** in 2010), Kathy ($10M net for 2010, corporate gross equal to 1% of Ireland GNP in 2010) winner: Kathy (one of these Irelands has a LOT more green)
Overall: Kathy Ireland, who turns 49 this year, is dirty rich and still smoking hot. It wasn’t a fair contest even from the beginning.