Everywhere He Wants to Be by Niall O'Dowd He travels the globe putting sponsorship deals toget
Everywhere He Wants to Be
by Niall O'Dowd
He travels the globe putting sponsorship deals together and whether it's the soccer World Cup in South Africa or the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs or the Olympics in Beijing, Visa's Michael O'Hara Lynch will be there.
Michael O'Hara Lynch is everywhere you would want to be. As head of Visa event and sponsorship marketing he flies to World Cups, Olympics, Super Bowls and every other major event on the planet. He negotiates multi-million-dollar contracts for Visa and helps create the marketing buzz for the world's greatest sports events.
He's the kid brought up near the Bronx in the small town of Katonah who grew up to see the world and all that's in it. And he loves every minute of it.
He was one of the first sports agents, those Tom Cruise wannabees who scream "Show me the money" in movies like Scott Boras with Alex Rodriguez in real life except you couldn't imagine Michael O'Hara Lynch doing that. He's quiet, cool and very effective.
As a sports agent he negotiated deals for superstars such as Michael Jordan and Arthur Ashe. With Jordan he put him on the box of Wheaties, achieving the ultimate iconic status for the Bulls superstar at the time.
Strange as it may seem, he had a tough job convincing General Mills to do it. They only wanted already minted legends and were unsure that the new sensation Jordan belonged on the box. O'Hara Lynch convinced them otherwise. Wheaties has never looked the same since.
These days he is near the top of a company which handles an average of 7,000 credit card transactions per second every second in the U.S. and $4.5 trillion in transactions every year.
He travels the globe putting sponsorship deals together, and whether it's the soccer World Cup in South Africa or the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs or the Olympics in Beijing, the tall, lanky O'Hara will be there.
He's fifty and looks forty, lives in the suburbs of beautiful San Francisco with his wife and two daughters, McKenzie, a star Irish dancer, and Dylan. For recreation he's a Notre Dame sports nut as befits an alumni of that great Irish bastion.
He attended Notre Dame and was a walk-on for the basketball team - he has never forgiven then coach Digger Phelps for keeping him warming the bench. It might have had something to do with the fact that the Fighting Irish at the time were ranked near to No. 1 in the country,
He was a contemporary of Joe Montana at Notre Dame and saw the golden years of the football program. He left in 1979.
When we talked he had high hopes for the team for the 2007 season. Enough said. Suffice it to say South Bend is one of the places even Visa doesn't want to be this football season.
So how come the name Michael O'Hara Lynch? "The reason I use O'Hara, you know, is my mother Kathleen Jean O'Hara," he says. "She had nine boys. I was the sixth but I was the only one who got her middle name. Out of respect for her I use it all the time." A dutiful son it seems.
He laughs that his parents, good Catholics, probably used the rhythm method when they got married. Nine boys arrived in rapid succession, not a baby girl in sight. "I guess they gave up trying after the last one," he says with a smile.