NYC's Top Sports Pitchmen
amNewYork takes a look at the region’s top athlete endorsers, using data from a recent SI.com estimation of confidential endorsement numbers from 2009, and interviews with Robert Boland, a professor at NYU’s Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management, and Bloomberg Businessweek editor Jon Kelly.
Derek Jeter, 36
Agent: Casey Close
Sponsors: Jordan Brand, Tri-State Ford, Gillette, Visa
Jeter is the marquee brand in the largest U.S. market, with a mix of national and regional endorsements. “Jeter picked up the mantle from [Patrick] Ewing as the most popular, most instantly recognizable New York sports figure,” Kelly said, “and he’s held onto it since 1996.” Once Jeter signs his career-closing contract with the Yankees this summer, the five-time World Series champion will be positioned to rake in millions more in endorsement income after his playing days. “This guy is absolutely flawless in managing his endorsements,” Boland said of Jeter, “a throwback to a face-of-the-franchise, face-of-the-league player.”
Eli Manning, 29
Agent: Tom Condon
Sponsors: Citizen Watch Co., Toyota of New Jersey, Reebok, ESPN Radio, Oreo
The baby-faced, Super Bowl-winning quarterback “happens to be one of the most famous younger brothers in all of sports,” said Kelly, referring to Eli’s big brother — four-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning. Added Boland: “A lot of endorsements that would come to Peyton fall through to him, in some cases, that aren’t local. If you can’t get Peyton,” he said, “sometimes [Eli is] choice 1A.”
Amar'e Stoudemire, 28
Agent: Happy Walters
Sponsors: Nike, Zico coconut water
"He has the ability to rack up some good numbers in endorsements here in New York," said Boland, suggesting that the Knicks star film some local spots along the lines of Jeter's “vista roof” Ford Edge commercials or Manning and Sanchez’s skit-based ads for Tri-State Toyota dealers. In addition to his primary partnership with Nike, which co-sponsors Stoudemire's eight traveling basketball teams in Florida, youth tournaments and basketball camps, Stoudemire is entertaining new endorsement offers. "Not the norm, not the guy out there pitching a car," his agent, Happy Walters, told amNewYork by telephone from Los Angeles. "Maybe some off-brand things, or things that are a little bit left of center." Said Stoudemire: "I’m pretty sure there’s a few sponsors out there that’s interested in doing business. ... I think that will all fall in place if we continue success. And that’s what we aim to do."
Alex Rodriguez, 35
Agent: None (formerly Scott Boras)
Sponsors: Nike, Pepsi, Activision’s “Guitar Hero”
Rodriguez's largest-ever 10-year, $275 million contract may account for why the 6-foot-3 slugger isn’t known as a pitchman: He doesn’t need the money. “I can't imagine that someone of Rodriguez’s salary and net worth is actively pursuing endorsement deals or TV spots,” Kelly said. Explaining A-Rod’s $4 million endorsement figure, Boland said: “That’s a glove, that’s a shoe deal, that’s not that much else. … He has never proven to be as good of an endorser as the guy playing next to him.”
$500K (amNY estimate)
David Wright, 27
Mets third baseman
Agent: Seth Levinson
Sponsors: Vitamin Water, Tri-State Lincoln Mercury, Topps, Nike, Wilson, Locker Room Memorabilia
Wright’s 0.5 percent stock in Queens-based Vitamin Water-maker Glaceau ballooned in value when Coca-Cola acquired the company in 2007. He continues to be a sought-after endorser. “The problem for David Wright is he’s the face of the Mets and Jeter’s the face of the Yankees, and you would much rather associate yourself with the Yankees right now,” Boland said.
CC Sabathia, 30
Agent: Greg Genske
Sponsors: Pepsi, Jordan Brand, Subway, EA Sports, Toyota Vallejo
The Yankees’ ace may be the team's most indispensable player, but not to companies seeking endorsements. “In the constellation of the Yankees, he struggles with Jeter and A-Rod and retired Yankees as bigger names than him,” Boland said.
Mark Sanchez, 23
Agent: Nick Sanchez Jr.
Sponsors: Toyota of New Jersey, Pepsi, Verizon, Nike
The second-year star, who turns 24 in two weeks and counts his older brother as his agent, is only beginning to come into the limelight. “The $500,000 is a function of where he is at this point in his career,” Boland said. “I don't see a reason why he wouldn’t be near the Eli Manning level at some point.” As a third-generation Mexican-American, Sanchez has potential to reach across demographics.