Coming out used to be the kiss of death for sponsorship deals in sports. But as a record number of openly LGBTQ athletes participate in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, marketing analysts say the opposite is now true: authenticity sells.

Recently, Canadian ice hockey player Luke Prokop followed in the footsteps of American football star Carl Nassib in becoming the first openly gay athletes still active in their respective sports — and potential sponsors are circling, experts said.

"These athletes are exhibiting degrees of courage and authenticity, which are always good traits for a brand," said Paul Hardart, a marketing professor at New York University's Stern School of Business.