/Chinese smartphone makers throw freebies at swimming star Fu Yuanhui after Rio theft

Chinese smartphone makers throw freebies at swimming star Fu Yuanhui after Rio theft

Whether it was from the “Really? I actually won a medal? You must be kidding! Really?”, or the “Ah! I am totally happy with the result! I’ve exhausted every bit of my power !”, Chinese swimmer Fu Yuanhui went popular overnight with her exaggerated but natural emotional language.

Since then, the swimming star’s followers on Weibo saw explosive growth, now reaching almost 6.5 million.

The adorable and outspoken athlete was even endorsed by Ellen DeGeneres calling her “China’s sweetheart” in her show.

But the “China sweetheart” hit some trouble. Someone stole Fu’s iPhone during the Olympics.

What Fu lost was an iPhone 6s Plus. Since it was stolen, she started using the Galaxy S7 edge of the Olympic Games Limited Edition that Samsung presented to athletes at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Nevertheless, the official account of Samsung on Weibo posted that it would sponsor her a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 when she’s back in China.

Lenovo did not lag behind, posting on Weibo that they would sponsor her with a Lenovo ZUK Z2, adding “and good luck to the swimmer who tries the hardest.”

hong huang zhi li
ZTE Axon 7 phone for Fu. Photo from Fu’s Weibo

ZTE decided to make something special, so Fu received a ZTE Axon 7 with “Fuye”, or “Fu the awesome”, printed on the back. Fu later did send a Weibo post with the ZTE Axon 7.

In comparison, OPPO was a step ahead of its opposition, as before Fu’s iPhone was lost, OPPO product manager Li Sheng already had posted a photo on Weibo showing Fu taking a selfie with an OPPO.

Rumor has it that it may now cost over RMB eight million (USD 1.21 million) for a brand to have Fu as a spokesperson.

Still, the twenty-year-old responded to these golden opportunities with honesty as always, by posting on Weibo with a photo of herself, saying “I am not an online celebrity, nor am I a star. I am just a professional athlete.”

(Top photo taken from Fu’s Weibo)

Ke graduated from the University of Edinburgh with a Master's Degree in English and has worked on projects with Ipsos MORI and SDI Media. She's particularly intrigued by China's thriving technology scene and is eager to write about this flourishing industry.