Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, Barry Bonds, Kobe Bryant, Adrian Peterson. All superstar athletes, and all considered by many to be the best in their sport at some point during their career. And, frankly, some of them are even considered to be the greatest in the history of their respective sport. But, what do these guys have in common other than their accomplished careers? Each of these athletes was once involved with a personal scandal that plagued their athletic career and led to the loss of numerous endorsement deals, thus, resulting in millions of potential earnings lost.
We see it time and again, a big time athlete gets dropped from endorsement deals due to some type of off the court/field scandal. Companies are not willing to risk their image and let the public question their values for one athlete endorser. Instead, they will move on to the next star. Recently in the news, however, we have seen something far less common: athletes potentially dropping endorsement deals with a company based on their personal values conflicting with that of the company.
Political comments made by Under Armour CEO, Kevin Plank, proved to be controversial and have led to some athletes and celebrities questioning their endorsement deals with the company based on what they perceive to be differing values. Most notably, NBA star Stephen Curry, movie star and WWE wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and ballerina Misty Copeland, have all made stances or statements in regard to the comments made by the CEO of the company they each endorse.
Stephen Curry has threatened to back out of his deal with Under Armour. Sure, Under Armour could just move on and find its next NBA superstar endorser, but according to Morgan Stanley analyst, Jay Sole, Under Armour’s sales of basketball shoes have increased by 350% thanks to Curry. However, Curry has made it very clear that he will not hesitate to back out of deals with companies that do not share his values.
Of course, when you are the 2-time reigning NBA Most Valuable Player, on the best team in the league, and one year removed from an NBA Championship, you have the luxury of picking and choosing who pays you millions of dollars to endorse their product. Nonetheless, props to Curry for staying true to his values and focusing on more than just the dollar signs. Clearly Curry is conscious of his personal brand and is not willing to let one of his endorsements have what he believes would be a negative effect on his brand. We are seeing this more and more in today’s society; big name athletes taking a stance, or a kneel, to defend their values. This is a trend that will likely continue into the future as well.