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NBC pays record $456 million for '96 Olympics

NEW YORK - NBC agreed Tuesday to pay a record $456 million for the 1996 centennial Olympics in Atlanta and will televise the Summer Games for the third consecutive time.

The winning bid for the biggest prize in sports television was just ahead of ABC's offer, valued at about $450 million, and way ahead of CBS's $415 million proposal. And this time, NBC Sports president Dick Ebersol said "we anticipate making money."

"As a former resident of the city of Atlanta, I'm proud to be associated with this undertaking," NBC president Bob Wright said. "This is the most important sporting event that will take place in this country in probably 20 years."

NBC paid $401 million for the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and $300 million for the Seoul Games in 1988. It was estimated to have lost $100 million on last year's Summer Games.

Sixty percent of the money ($273.6 million) will go to the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, which also gets $160 million of the $250 million paid for European rights. Although it seems ACOG won't reach its original goal of $592 million in television revenue, ACOG president Billy Payne was pleased.

"We in Atlanta have met our budgeted expectations," said Payne, who once predicted the Games would sell for between $500 million and $600 million.

Sotomayor ups high jump mark

SALAMANCA, Spain - Javier Sotomayor is the only man to ever clear 8 feet in the high jump and he doesn't think he'll be joined by anyone else anytime soon.

The Cuban broke his own world record by one-half inch Tuesday when he cleared 8-01/2 at the Salamanca Invitational track and field meet.

"This record could last several more years," said Sotomayor, whose old mark stood for four years. He became the first man to reach 8 feet on July 29, 1989 at San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Sotomayor, 25, has held the world record since Sept. 8, 1988, when he cleared 7-111/2 at this same meet to beat the mark set by Patrik Sjoberg of Sweden by one-quarter inch.

"I wanted to set the record here because it's a small city in which I feel like I'm in Cuba," Sotomayor said. "The people recognize me in the street and ask how I'm doing, the children surround me and I find myself in a good mental state."

He set the record on his second attempt at the height. The bar teetered but did not fall, and Sotomayor leaped from the pit and was mobbed by athletes.