The Wooing Of Wie

USA Today is running a story on Michelle Wie, the 15-year old golfer being compared to Tiger Woods, and NBA star LeBron James, particularly when it comes to potential earnings through endorsement deals.
She can generate more endorsement money than any woman in history,” says David Carter, a sports business professor at Southern California and principal of the Sports Business Group in Los Angeles. “She’s going to be in front of us for decades.”
Wie’s earning power initially could reach an estimated $8 million to $10 million a year through her contract with the William Morris Agency, based on similar golf and tennis deals. Included is about $3 million to $5 million as part of a deal with Nike.
Even before she competes for her first paycheck, Wie would become the highest-paid female athlete on Forbes’ list behind tennis’ Maria Sharapova ($16.7 million in endorsements) and Serena Williams ($11.6 million). Wie would replace Annika Sorenstam as the top female golfer, almost doubling the Swedish star’s $5.4 million.
And that’s just upfront money. If she can successfully launch an apparel line with a personal logo, she could earn another $15 million to $20 million a year in royalties.
Wie was born in Hawaii and has Korean heritage, an ethnic background expected to drive even more deals in Asia. She has prepared to handle language barriers, too Wie speaks fluent Korean and has taken Japanese for three years and Chinese for two years among her high school classes.
Carter believes Wie is positioned to develop into an international icon such as Woods or Yao Ming, the Chinese center for the NBA’s Houston Rockets: “Her talent and poise is what’s very compelling for companies. Her ethnicity is icing on the cake.”



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.