Paul Rodriguez may have a famous father, but it’s the son you should know. The 21-year-old skateboarding icon is gearing up for ESPN’s X Games, where he has won the gold medal in the men’s street contest the last two years. The kid nicknamed P-Rod is pulling in well over $1 million a year from brands like Nike, Mountain Dew, Hubba Wheels and Ogio backpacks.
“These guys are very influential on what the rest of the world buys and the skate industry is kind of that rock that gets thrown into the pond," said David Wunderli, President of Ogio. They’re the ripples. They guys that start the ripple. So, if you’ve got a Paul Rodriguez on your staff, he’s starting ripples and people are looking to him for trends."
His father is gaining fame on the stage and in front of the camera while P-Rod’s legend is spreading from DVD’s and ample clips on You Tube.
“Anything that the kid does is watched and viewed on videos and rewound over and over because of his style," said Wunderli.
Nike signed Rodriguez to a show and apparel deal in January 2004, using the youngster to get their foot in the door of an extremely challenging business.
“When Nike had signed him, they had tried to get into skateboarding two or three times," said Skateboarding Magazine’s Dave Swift. "And when they signed Paul, it was like, ‘Oh, now they’re really getting involved.’ You know, that was like, a big deal."
Nike has released about twenty P-Rod signature shoes since his first national Nike commercial, which debuts today to coincide with the X-Games.
“Nike stepped up their investment in Paul by bringing him in as a brand athlete and showing the world that he is taking a lead in that category," said Circe Wallace and agent at Octagon. "I think that is very important and I think that it shows how heavily invested Nike is and how much they see his potential."
Some marketers suggestthat Rodriguez’s lack of fluent Spanish could hurt his future global appeal. Those who work with him say that it won’t hold him back.
“I think he still understands he needs to work on that and that he needs to reach out to the Hispanic speaking, Latin based consumer," said Wallace. "But, he’s based here and we’ve been about to do a pretty good job."