One of the most notable aspects of opening night of the NBA season on Tuesday was how much LeBron James was featured in the commercials. The Miami Heat star was the pitchman in new Samsung Mobile and Nike commercials that aired nationally throughout the first two games, both of which portrayed him as a lovable, friendly and wholesome character, or as branding expert Nate Jones calls it, the “athlete next door.”
A story circulated on Tuesday saying that adidas was prepared to offer Kansas freshman basketball player Andrew Wiggins a $180 million shoe endorsement deal. The story made headlines for obvious reasons — that’s a huge amount of money, especially for an athlete who hasn’t even played a minute of college ball yet. But if the report didn’t sound right to you, and it didn’t to us, that’s probably because the quoted figures for the prospective contract may have originated from a fake letter.
The Tuesday report about the prospective adidas offer came from Bleacher Report, which cited sources in saying that the sports apparel company was preparing a $180 million offer for Wiggins. Here’s what they wrote:
- Andrew Wiggins
Millions of people across the world complain about how much professional athletes make on a daily basis. The average person has a hard time fathoming how someone could get paid $20 million a year to hit a baseball or shoot a basketball. Why can’t we have some of that money? That’s how a lot of people think, and thanks to Houston Texans running back Arian Foster that could soon be possible.
According to ESPN.com’s Darren Rovell, a company called Fantex Brokerage Services announced on Thursday that it is planning to create an opportunity where fans can invest in stock that is directly related to the performance of a professional athlete’s brand. The first athlete that the public will be able to buy stock in is Foster.
Foster has reportedly agreed to a deal with Fantex where the company pays him $10 million in exchange for a 20% stake in his future income — both on and off the field. Fans who buy stock in Foster will be investing in his business value. As we know, athletes who perform well on the field are more likely to profit from endorsements and other business opportunities. Should that happen with Foster, for example, his stock might go up. If he somehow became an ineffective player and lost his starting job, the opposite might happen.
“Fantex is bringing sports and business together in a way never previously thought possible,” company CEO Buck French told ESPN in a statement. “By building a marketplace that allows customers to buy shares in a tracking stock linked to the value and performance of an athlete’s brand, Fantex is enabling a new level of brand advocacy through ownership.”
Fantex will pay Foster $10 million now and can collect 20% of his earnings going forward. The company is currently taking reservations and could be selling Foster stock publicly by next month.
This obviously raises a ton of questions that only a financial expert could answer adequately. Will athletes be willing to give up a portion of their future income early in their careers, essentially making them the equivalent of a start-up company? As French pointed out to Rovell, some athletes would even be a good investment later in their careers because of post-retirement business ventures and endorsements. Brett Favre and Wrangler come to mind.
We expect to hear much more about this in the coming months.
- Arian Foster
Many suspected the beef between Kevin Durant and Dwyane Wade that was manifested over social media this week was just a promotion for Gatorade. After all, the two were featured in a commercial for the sports beverage last year. Now there seems to be definitive proof that this issue had nothing to do with Gatorade.
[Previously: Dwyane Wade and Kevin Durant in beef over top 10 slight]
I didn’t think the beef was manufactured for a few reasons. For one, the setup for how the whole thing came up was too random. Durant was asked by CineSport to evaluate a top-10 players list and said James Harden should replace Wade. That question would have had to have been planted by CineSport, which seemed unlikely. Secondly, Durant is a guy who speaks his mind, so it’s not too surprising to hear him set rankings the way he sees fit. Lastly, Durant was doing promotional work for Degree when he made his comments, not Gatorade.
I could be wrong about this one, but it seems like Durant parting ways with Gatorade is pretty solid proof that this whole thing was real and not staged.
Additionally, some Houston Rockets players like Dwight Howard and Harden said the beef was real.
Durant was asked on Friday about his feud with Wade and decided to offer some praise of the Miami Heat guard.
“Dwyane Wade is a great, great player, man,” Durant said via Eye on Basketball’s Royce Young. “I’m not discrediting anything he’s done or nothing like that. I just voiced my opinion. He’s a great, great player. Finals MVP and champion. I didn’t mean to disrespect that or take that away or anything. I just voiced my opinion as of today. I love you D-Wade, man. It’s just competition.”
Seriously, what’s the issue? Wade isn’t a top-10 player anymore. Why isn’t Durant allowed to say that without people freaking out?
For the third straight season, the Houston Astros are well on their way toward finishing with the worst record in Major League Baseball. They finished with a pathetic 56 wins in 2011 and took a tiny step back with 55 in 2012. The 2013 Astros would need to win 14 of their last 33 games to improve upon the previous two seasons. Don’t bank on that happening.
Yet, somehow, the 2013 Astros are the most profitable team in MLB history. According to Forbes, Houston is on pace to make an estimated $99 million in operating income this year. That number is roughly the same amount that the last six World Series champions made combined. That’s right, combined.
Naturally, most of it has to do with payroll. The Astros are paying out roughly $21 million in salary and bonuses this season. Starting pitcher Erik Bedard is the highest-paid player on the team in 2013 with a salary of $1.15 million. He is the only player who will make over $1 million. Last year, before Jim Crane purchased the team, the payroll was roughly $56 million higher.
- Houston Astros
Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun let down an entire fan base after admitting this week to using performance-enhancing drugs and accepting a suspension for the rest of the season. But despite losing an endorsement deal and $3.8 million in salary, Braun is still generating revenue through merchandise sales.
According to Brewers COO Rick Schlesinger, there has been an increase in the sales of Braun merchandise since the suspension was announced on Monday.
“We will continue to offer Ryan Braun’s merchandise for sale at our team stores at Miller Park,” Schlesinger told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Thursday. “Ryan is a Milwaukee Brewer. It is within each fan’s right to decide whether to purchase his merchandise or not. While it has only been a few days since the announcement of Ryan’s suspension, we actually have experienced an increase in sales of Ryan Braun merchandise. We are not speculating as to the reason for this increase, but it’s the reality.”
As of now, the Brewers are planning to hold onto Braun. He is under contract with the team through 2020, so pulling his merchandise from the shelves would make no sense. The team probably won’t be putting out any advertisements that encourage fans to snatch up No. 8 jerseys, but discontinuing them is not an option.
The increase in sales could be a coincidence, or it could be a similar situation to Aaron Hernandez jerseys selling for big bucks on eBay and other sites. Relax, I’m not comparing Braun to an alleged murderer — I’m simply saying there are some people who may wonder if Braun will ever play for the Brewers again and might consider his Milwaukee gear to be a collector’s item.
It’s also possible that fans are buying Braun shirts to do what this fan did with hers. One thing we do know is that sports fans forgive quickly. If Braun serves his suspension and comes back the same player (and drug-free), plenty of fans will be willing to embrace him again.
H/T Big League Stew
- Ryan Braun
It’s safe to assume that every young superstar athlete will at some point be recruited by Roc Nation Sports, if they haven’t already been contacted. The list has ranged from proven veterans like Robinson Cano to rookie sensations like Yasiel Puig, and a recent report says Jay-Z has turned his attention toward the best player in college football.
South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is expected to go somewhere within the first few picks of the 2014 NFL Draft. He is likely going to make a lot of money both on the field and off of it, which is why Roc Nation would love to represent him.
According to @InsideTheLeague Jadeveon Clowney is in regular contact with Jay Z & will likely end up choosing Roc Nation Sports.
— Darren Heitner (@DarrenHeitner) July 22, 2013
The potential problem that could arise from this is that Jay-Z is not yet a certified NFL agent. He is not allowed to have direct contact with college players, let alone “regular contact.” Current NFL agents will surely be looking for ways to thwart Jay-Z’s alleged efforts, and this could be one of them.
Jay-Z recently stated that he is a problem for sports agents, and for the most part he’s right. He boasted about taking Cano from Scott Boras in a rap song and is clearly looking to build an empire filled with star athletes. So far, he has found substantial success.