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Los Angeles Lakers guard Jeremy Lin told Bloomberg on Sept. 26 that he turned down millions of dollars worth of endorsement deals when he was still with the New York Knicks.
Jeremy Lin turned down millions of dollars worth of endorsement deals while he was still with the New York Knicks.
The new Los Angeles Lakers guard made the revelation to Bloomberg.com’s Erik Matuszewski on Sept. 26:
“Jeremy Lin said he left tens of millions of dollars on the table by not accepting the endorsement opportunities he was offered during the height of the ‘Linsanity’ era in New York two years ago.
“The 26-year-old Lin, who is now with the Los Angeles Lakers after spending the past two seasons with the Houston Rockets, is the first Chinese- or Taiwanese-American to play in the National Basketball Association.
“A Harvard University graduate, Lin only played in 35 games with the Knicks — including 25 starts — during the 2011-12 season, yet sparked a winning turnaround as he went from bench warmer to star. He spawned an international craze known as Linsanity, boosting television ratings and merchandise sales in New York while his jersey became the league’s best-seller.
“‘If I had accepted everything, I don’t know the exact number, but I would have been making way more off the court than on the court,’ said Lin, who has a $14.9 million salary in the final season of his three-year, $25 million deal. ‘Even the next contract after.’
“Lin yesterday joined the Whistle Sports Network as a content partner, adding his YouTube channel with almost 400,000 subscribers to the 8-month-old, sports-focused digital media platform. He’s the first athlete from one of the four major professional sports leagues in the U.S. to produce content for the company and received an undisclosed equity stake.
“Lin in January signed an endorsement contract with Adidas AG after his previous agreement with Nike Inc. ended, yet has largely avoided most of the sponsorship he’s been offered.
“‘We’ve turned away almost everything, just because I do think my purpose is to play basketball, play well, and play for the glory of God,’ Lin said in a telephone interview. ‘ The stuff off the court is great and it’s fun, but it’s definitely secondary to my primary job.’
“Lin said he’s one of the few NBA players with a YouTube channel and created it mainly to connect with fans.
“‘What we’re trying to do with that has never been about monetization,’ Lin said, adding that the Whistle Sports Network will help improve the production and reach of his videos. ‘That’s true for this partnership as well. A lot of what we create is purely for the fans.'”
In his own Sept. 26 article, Fortune.com’s Daniel Roberts (via Yahoo Finance) ponders whether Lin’s YouTube venture will be enough to propel Linsanity to new, unprecedented heights:
“Off the court, though? Lin’s profile continues to rise. The athlete has rightly earned accolades for being one of the first athletes in the digital video space. In a phone interview with Fortune, Lin praises the influence of LeBron James. He went from the most popular athlete to the least popular athlete back to probably the most popular athlete,’ he says. ‘The fall. It is what it is. But for his rise, he’s handled his social media really well. And yet James still doesn’t have his own YouTube channel. League peer Kobe Bryant? NFL quarterback Peyton Manning? Irish golfer Rory McIlroy? Nope, none of them does, either.
“Lin’s videos are mostly comedic, though there is occassionally a more serious one. They mostly stay true to who the man really is. (During the rush of press coverage of ‘Linsanity’ it became common knowledge that Lin is deeply religious. True to form even his humor videos end with a Bible passage). Lin knows what he offers his viewers.
“‘With my story and my background there are a lot of different angles: Asian-American, Harvard, underdog, whatever it might be, and a lot of appeal behind it,’ he says. Telling that story through video has worked for him. Teammates approach him in the locker room and ask to be in one of his videos. Linsanity feels like a thing of the past, but with 400,000 YouTubers paying attention, his YouTube presence could be its surest path to revival.”
The 26-year-old Lin has averaged 11.9 points, 2.6 rebounds and 4.8 assists in 217 career regular-season games with the Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks and Houston Rockets, per ESPN stats.
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