From Gaga to Gunnars, URI Ironman is doing it all

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KINGSTON, R.I. – July 11, 2011 – Matthew Michelsen is the average all-American man: entrepreneur, husband, father of three, who in his spare time, likes to hang out with his friend 50 Cent.

Michelsen, who graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 1994 with a degree in consumer economics, was in Rhode Island to compete in the Amica Ironman 70.3 Rhode Island event on Sunday, July 10. This is the latest big challenge he’s taken on in his life.

The California-based businessman met Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson a few years ago when the rapper and business mogul called the cell phone of Matt’s wife, Jenny, when the rapper wanted to talk about Gunnar Optiks, their digital performance eyewear company. “Jennifer answered the phone, assumed the man on the other end claiming to be 50 Cent was just one of my friends joking around, and handed the call to me,” said Michelsen, who met his wife while they were students at URI. “Imagine my surprise when I realized it was really him.”

The Michelsens created the product to prevent migraines, which were a symptom of Matt’s computer vision syndrome, a problem that occurs after prolonged interaction with a computer display and strains the eyes. Jennifer came up with the idea in 2008, and now Gunnars are sold worldwide in 26 countries by retailers including Best Buy and Amazon.

Networking through California social circles led Michelsen to Troy Carter, Lady Gaga’s business manager. Michelsen now manages social media for the singer-songwriter, who is often referred to in the media as “the next Madonna.” Any Little Monster, as Lady Gaga affectionately calls her fans, will vouch that this is an impressive career considering Gaga’s strong online presence.