According to an ESPN report today, the No. 1 draft pick of the New Orleans Pelicans signed a five-year deal with Jordan Brand, which ESPN stated is the most lucrative annual rookie shoe deal in league history. The amount Jordan Brand paid was not revealed in the report, but it stated Williamson was fielding offers from brands that trumped $10 million a year.
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This story comes a day after Forbes reported that the 19-year-old baller’s deal could span seven years and pay Williamson $75 million.
If the $75 million figure is correct, Williamson’s deal would not be the highest in NBA history. Megastar LeBron James’ first contract with Nike in 2003, before being drafted by his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers as No. 1 overall, was worth a reported $90 million.
Despite where he starts financially, some insiders believe Williamson could make $1 billion over the course of his playing career. “Zion Williamson’s going to make $1 billion playing basketball effortlessly,” ESPN college basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla told Forbes in November.
Ahead of the 2019 NBA Draft, famed sports marketing exec Sonny Vaccaro told FN that Williamson was making a mistake by not having a deal in place before being selected by the Pelicans, a small market team that may not be able to make the most of his star power.
“He’s [likely] going to a place [where it’s] going to be hard to maximize everything,” Vaccaro told FN. “The onus should have been on the buyers and now it’s on the seller. They’re still going to get a lot of money, but if I’m a shoe company I’m not the beggar now, you put [Williamson] back on his heels, which wouldn’t have happened if a deal [was] done beforehand.”
Vaccaro told Forbes Tuesday that the reported $75 million would have been much higher if Williamson ended up in a major market.
“I would’ve guaranteed it [$100 million] if he would’ve been in New York or Los Angeles,” Vacarro told Forbes. “There is a difference in cities, there’s no question about that.” In that same report, Baker Street Advertising creative director Bob Dorfman mentioned Kevin Durant’s seven-year, $60 million deal with Nike in 2007 that included a $12 million signing bonus before also estimating that Williamson could get $100 million from his deal.
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