China National Philatelic Corporation (CNPC) has announced that it will issue this week a set of stamps featuring a 22-year-old girl named Li Yuchun, who earned nationwide fame overnight by just winning an "American Idol"-type singing contest in 2005.
"Li is expected to become the first Chinese mainland pop star appearing on the country's publicly-circulated stamps," the Chengdu Commercial Daily, a local newspaper in the southwestern Sichuan Province, quoted the CNPC sources as saying.
The post and stamps sector is just one more area for Li and her fellow winners of the "Super Girl" contest to conquer, as they are all busy cashing in on their victory.
Li, a native of Sichuan, had garnered 3.5 million votes from fans all over China to win the top award in the singing contest, which attracted an unprecedented number of TV viewers.
Immediately after the contest, Li, along with the second and third prize winners Zhou Bichang and Zhang Liangying, has turned from an ordinary and obscure girl to a "rising entertainment star" fanatically chased by ads companies, music producers and even telecom operators.
"It can be called an 'economic miracle,' as a single cultural event has created such a huge amount of money," said an expert with the Chinese Academy of Social Science (CASS) who asked not to be named. "This has really gone beyond many people's expectations."
Last week, the CASS, known as one of China's leading thinktanks, issued a bluebook titled "The Development Report on China's Cultural Industry: 2006." It estimated that the 2005 "Super Girl" contest has raked in about 766 million yuan (95.75 million U.S. dollars).
If the revenues from the indirect use of the contest's influence, such as those from the issuance of the new stamps, are also counted, the business value of the singing gala could be as much as several billion yuan, the bluebook added.
When winners of the contest staged one of their first concerts on Oct. 6 last year in Shanghai, China's largest city, all 6,000 floor seats at the metropolis' main soccer stadium were sold out in 24 hours, beating the record of super singing stars from Hong Kong and Taiwan performing in the same stadium before.
Meanwhile, a TV play named "Super Girls" started shooting last year, said to be based on the girls' true stories of success. Knickknacks borrowing the names and images of the "Super Girls" are also making good money everywhere, with a tea mug emblazoned with Li's image sold at 30 yuan (4 U.S. dollars) each, nearly 10 times of the price of an ordinary cup.