Marketplace is community-funded public service journalism. Give in any amount that works for you – what matters is that you give today.
Scott Jagow: In the movie Jerry Maguire, Cuba Gooding Junior plays a football player who can’t seem to get any big endorsements.
Cuba Gooding Junior: Shooting a Reebok ad down there. Hey Jerry, where are my endorsements, know what I’m saying? You know, I didn’t get no love from Chevy, I didn’t get no love from Pepsi — I didn’t even get no love from that little Energizer Bunny.
Could be a lot of athletes in that situation in this economy. Even the biggest pitchman of them all, Tiger Woods, has ended his relationship with Buick.
Our business of sports commentator Diana Nyad is here. Diana, is this just a carmaker thing, or should athletes be worried?
Diana Nyad: Well, Tiger, you’re right, I mean the guy is gold. He is at about $100 million a year in off the field, so to speak, for him off the course endorsements. I mean, you know, one of the next highest goes all the way down to $28 million a year. That’s the king, LeBron James. Tiger isn’t hurting in all the rest of his endorsements, so he’s going to be negotiating. His agents are going to be looking for another car deal. And they’ll probably get one, over the next six months before he plays the master’s anyway . . .
Jagow: Probably Toyota.
Nyad: Yeah, maybe something very plebian, yes, exactly right.
Jagow: Well what about beyond Tiger and the carmakers? Are we seeing other athletes lose their endorsements?
Nyad: You know, the ones that surprise me the most are the superstars that came out of the Olympics. Now we’re not going to count Michael Phelps or Usane Bolt. Phelps just signed a very big deal with Subway, he’s going to be on the cover of Cornflakes boxes. But my God, before the Olympics, Dara Torres, at 41 years of age, had a higher advertising — what they call a cue rating, you know, they’re famous, you know, they’re likeable, they’re popular — than Payton Manning. And now, her agent has literally called her over the last couple of weeks and said, “Dara, just the phone is not ringing, I don’t know what to do . . . go in your kitchen, open the cabinet doors.” And she said, what? And he said, “Go in the kitchen! Tell me what you got in there. And she’s got a baby, so she said, “Well, I’ve got Kraft this, I got Kraft that, I got Kraft cheese, I got Kraft crackers . . . ” He said, Kraft, that’s . . . and then he calls her back about an hour later he said, “You know, I just looked into it — Kraft just laid off a whole bunch of employees, it’s not time for me to call Kraft. They are just, they’re dying.” Same with Natalie Coughlin, you know, some of the big name swimmers, and the phones are not ringing for them.
Jagow: I would think that it would be especially tough on these Olympic athletes because they don’t get a salary like pro athletes do in other sports.
Nyad: The swimmers especially are hit hard this time, just because of Phelps. You know, everybody was tuned in, the ratings were gigantic, and even the substars were very big, the Natalie Coughlins of the world. But it didn’t come their way. Well, you know, let’s talk to the millions of people around the world who are suffering with their 401k plunges and their foreclosures of their home. You know, we’re going to throw all these Olympic athletes right in the rest of us now.
Jagow: Diana Nyad, our business of sports commentator. Thanks.
Nyad: Scott, thank you.
There’s a lot happening in the world. Through it all, Marketplace is here for you.
You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible.
Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.