How to get a pro cyclist to wish your dad a happy birthday

Which cyclists are using the Cameo video marketplace, and how much do they charge?

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Ever wanted a world champion to wish your parents a happy anniversary? A retired pro to congratulate your sister on her new job? A pep talk for your training buddy from a three-time US cyclocross champ? 

All of this is possible – even easy. But it’ll cost ya. 

Cameo, a video-sharing website, is the intermediary. Founded in 2016, the website was set up as a kind of marketplace for celebrity communication with fans. Customers send a request through to the celebrity of their choice – categorised by profession – who has seven days to record a video message in exchange for a fee set by the celebrity. 

Some of the identities using the platform include: 

  • Sean ‘Don’t You Leave Him Samwise Gamgee’ Astin ($295)
  • Wesley ‘Blade’ Snipes (not currently taking bookings, but very awkward video intro here)
  • Joe Exotic’s arch-nemesis, Carole Baskin ($299)
  • Insane Clown Posse ($500)
  • Kato ‘Some Guy Who Was Once OJ Simpson’s Neighbour’ Kaelin ($60)
  • Meat ‘I Would Do Anything For Love But I Will Also Do A Cameo Video for $200’ Loaf

Cameo has boomed in popularity over the four years of its existence, with the company now valued at over US$1 billion. And there’s money in it for the celebrities too – according to company founder Steven Galanis, “over 160 people on Cameo made over $100,000 a year”. The biggest earners, like loveable oaf Brian ‘Kevin from The Office’ Baumgartner, take home more than US$1 million.

In all, there are 30,000 celebrities across 684 categories using the platform: musicians, actors, adult actors, wrestlers, influencers, reality TV stars, actual dogs, and Snoop Doggs.

But wait, there’s more.

Under the ‘cyclists’ tab, there are currently 25 individuals. Some you’ve heard of, some you probably haven’t, and some are motorbike riders or Ironmen who aren’t actually cyclists at all. 

So who’s there, and what do they offer? 

Let’s start off with Simon Geschke (Team Cofidis). The gloriously bearded German offers personalised messages for US$20, and we know from past experience that he’s both generous with his time and funny. Recent videos have included him lamenting his travel woes at Tokyo Airport, and, during the Tour de France, issuing an unconvincing denial that he is a vampire

His Cameo videos are likely to be the most enduring memory of Geschke’s time in Tokyo – on Friday he tested positive to COVID-19, missed the road race, and is currently twiddling his thumbs in hotel isolation until he can go home again.

Philippe Gilbert (Lotto Soudal) is on Cameo too. From US$50, the Belgian superstar will record “the best videos for any reasons” in French, Italian, Dutch, or English. He has won a World Championship and almost every Monument, but he also wants to win your heart. 

Lachlan Morton (EF Education-Nippo) is there too, but based on his pricing, he really wants you to work for it. The Australian eccentric’s rates start at US$1,000, making him by far the most expensive Cameo cycling celebrity. And, remember, this is a guy who’ll ride across a country for free.   

Morton’s teammate – Very Blonde Dane, Michael Valgren – is in the mix. Valgren joined in 2019, and doesn’t appear to do too much business, seeing as all his videos appear to date back to when he was riding for Dimension Data, two seasons ago. He charges US$50, but US$50 you don’t make is $0 in any currency on earth. 

Kate Courtney, the US XC Mountain Biker, is much more prolific, having recorded at least three messages in just the few days she’s been in Tokyo. For US$35, the extremely wholesome MTB star will send congratulations on your PhD, with all money raised donated to the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA). 

Also on the charity train is former pro and current YouTube celeb, Phil Gaimon (US$100), who’s donating his fee to No Kid Hungry

And for those who have a nostalgic hankering for tarnished US pro road cyclists of the Armstrong era, Cameo’s the platform for you. George Hincapie, Christian Vande Velde and Bobby Julich are all using the service, charging from US$40-US$80. 

And … cut.

It’s difficult to know exactly what to make of it all. Is it a way for cyclists to add a little extra financial stability in an unstable world? A very low-effort pathway to some pocket money? Another way for athletes to forge a personal connection with the public? All of the above?

Either way, there’s something curiously endearing about the fact that you can ask Philippe Gilbert to say happy birthday to your dad, and $50 later, no questions asked, he’ll do it with a smile in four languages.

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