By Ryan Buxton, EnStarz | Aug 15, 2012 12:18 PM EDT
Gabby Douglas is America's newest sweetheart after becoming the first African-American gymnast to win gold in the Olympic all-around competition, but her parents are locked in a bitter battle for her multimillion-dollar endorsement deals.
The 16-year-old, nicknamed the "Flying Squirrel" for her finesse on the gym floor, is slated to earn $10 million in sponsorships and endorsements this year alone, and projections say she could make $100 million over her lifetime. But sources say "'both sides of Gabby's family are jockeying to be in good standing with the goose that laid the golden egg. Meanwhile, poor Gabby is caught in the middle."
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There was beef between the family even before Douglas' star turn in London. Her father Timothy Douglas abandoned Gabby's mother, Natalie Hawkins, and her four children years ago, and Gabby has gone on record saying that he rarely paid child support.
The family drama has been stirring in public since the Olympics. Gabby's paternal grandfather May Douglas told the Enquirer that neither Gabby's father nor his family were given tickets to the London Games, even though they had traveled across the pond to see her.
"We don't know how many tickets were given, and how they were given, we only know they were not given to us," he said.
Reports said the family suspected Natalie Hawkins was behind it and didn't want her ex at the Olympics.
Timothy Douglas recently defended his parenting skills after it was revealed he was arrested on March 8 for contributing to the delinquency of a child, which could net him a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
Gabby's endorsement payday will be a welcome windfall for the family: Hawkins filed for bankruptcy earlier this year with debts totaling almost $80,000.
Gabby has spoken openly about the dire financial straits her father's absence caused.
"It was really hard for us growing up - my dad had left us, so he wasn't really in the picture anymore," she told the New York Post. "So my mom had to front all these bills. My dad didn't really pay the child support. He was short [on money]. It was definitely hard on her part and she had to take care of me and the rest of my siblings."
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