Millions around the world watched 17-year-old Maria Sharapova experience the thrill of victory at the All England Club and her instant admission into another club – the “power players club.”
The members of the “power players club” are the superstar athletes and big corporations ready to cut lucrative endorsement deals.
Tiger Woods is a member. According to Forbes, Woods pockets $70 million a year in endorsements before even pulling a driver out of his bag. He is this year’s highest paid athlete.
Although he’s no longer playing, Nike’s $25 million-a-year investment in Michael Jordan is estimated to be worth $500 million to the footwear company’s bottom line.
At only 17 years old, analysts say the latest Wimbledon champion could deliver a new demographic to companies eager to reach a younger consumer.
“I think the type of corporation that you'll see coming after Sharapova are corporations that are looking to get teen consumers who are forming their purchasing habits,” says Peter Stern of the Strategic Sports Group. “So to me, it's places like soft drink, it's telecom, it could be a credit card company.”
Stern predicts four or five major corporations will chase the tall blonde teen, each with seven-figure deals, dwarfing the Wimbledon winners check.
“I never think about the numbers,” Sharapova said on the “Today” show. “I didn’t even know what my check was for. I still don’t know. I just wired it to my bank account so I don’t know what it is.”
Sharapova’s agents at International Management Group most likely do know – they’ll be engineering the Sharapova marketing machine.
“There's a good chance they might market her in a whole other direction where she goes after a much more serious business, a serious industry like finance or insurance,” says Stern.
Either way, there’s no question that while Sharapova may only have one tennis Grand Slam title, she’s about to achieve a Madison Avenue brand slam.