By Amy Daines, Staff Writer
As an average high school student, it is nearly impossible to walk down a hallway without seeing a person wearing the famous Nike Jordans. So many people own a pair of the hugely popular shoe, but how did the design become so timelessly loved? The answer: sponsorship deals.
In 1984, Nike asked Michael Jordan to design his own sneaker. The Air Jordan 1 was released on April 1, 1985. NBA regulations at the time stated that players could only wear white trainer shoes. So when he donned the classic red and black sneakers on the court, Jordan was violating the rules. However, Nike repeatedly paid the fine to solidify their sponsorship with Jordan. The partnership between Jordan and Nike is worth $1.3 billion today, and it has become a huge cultural phenomenon.
A sponsorship deal (or, more specifically, a sports athlete sponsorship) is when an individual athlete is sponsored by a brand. Examples of this could be athletes wearing that brand’s apparel on the court/field, or appearing in advertisements for that brand. In return, the brand will pay for certain things or offer a set fee to the athlete. A sponsorship deal between a company and athlete works like a two-way promise – each side offers something in return for something else.
The Jordan/Nike sponsorship is arguably one of the most valuable and well known sports/athlete sponsorship of all time. What are some other famous deals? The most popular brand in sponsorship deals is Nike, but close seconds are Adidas and Under Armour. Well-known athletes Cristiano Ronaldo and LeBron James have partnered with Nike and have made $1 billion. Football stars Lionel Messi and David Beckham have partnered with Adidas to make upwards of $160 million. Steph Curry partnered with Under Armour to make upwards of $210 million. All of these pro athletes have benefited greatly from sponsoring huge name brands.
Sponsorship deals are an amazing outlet for pro athletes. These partnerships can revolutionize American culture and be extremely beneficial for both the athletes and the sponsors. So, next time there is a pair of Air Jordans in the hallway, they are the highly successful result of a sponsorship deal.