Athletic apparel companies will throw money at Zion Williamson.
The Duke University men’s basketball star will prompt a bidding war for the ages between rival companies looking to sign him to an endorsement contract, according to legendary sports marketing executive Sonny Vaccaro. Duke exited the NCAA Tournament in the Elite Eight, but Williamson’s performances during his freshman year made him one of the most exciting college players in recent memory, the presumed top pick in the 2019 NBA Draft and convinced many sponsors he’s basketball’s next big thing.
Vaccaro expects Williamson to become the 10th player to enter the NBA with his own signature sneaker and also believes as many as six brands — Adidas, Anta, New Balance, Nike, Puma and Under Armour — will drive the 18-year-old’s final asking price into record-setting levels.
“In my lifetime, I think it’s going to be the biggest bidding war ever done,” Vaccaro told ESPN’s Nick DePaula. “I would put them all on go.”
“Sitting here at this age and watching 50 years of it, Zion has made me feel like it’s 1984 (Michael Jordan’s rookie year). I’m serious.”
LeBron James signed a seven-year, $87 million guaranteed contract with Nike prior to the 2003 NBA Draft. His annual payout from Nike dwarfed what the Cleveland Cavaliers paid him in each of his first four NBA seasons.
Vaccaro predicts Williamson’s first endorsement contract as a professional player will break the nine-figure barrier.
“We’re not talking about 100 dollars, we’re talking about 100 million dollars.”
And the sneaker manufacturers won’t make Wiliamson wait until draft day to start paying up.
Thumbnail photo via Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports Images