Feb 1, 2023 - Sports

Shohei Ohtani is baseball's endorsement king

Photo illustration of Shohei Ohtani sitting on a bundle of cash

Photo Illustration: Trent Joaquin. Photo: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Players like Shohei Ohtani come along once in a lifetime, and brands aren't throwing away their shot to partner with the two-way superstar.

Driving the news: The 28-year-old Japanese sensation signed a multi-year footwear and apparel deal with New Balance on Tuesday, ending his partnership with Asics that dated to 2014.

  • His first campaign will be for a limited-edition cleat in the same style as the brand's classic 574 sneaker.
  • It launches this month ahead of the World Baseball Classic in March, where Ohtani will represent Japan for the first time.

The big picture: Ohtani's unique brilliance and global appeal have made him one of the most marketable stars in MLB history.

  • His 17 brand endorsements last year shattered the record for most in a single season, per SponsorUnited (Aaron Judge had 13 in 2021).
  • Those endorsements earned him $20 million, more than three times as much as the next-highest off-field earner, per Forbes (Bryce Harper: $6.5 million).
  • His team reaped the benefits, too: 22 Japanese brands paid for signs at Angel Stadium last season.

Looking ahead: Those endorsements will pale in comparison to Ohtani's next contract. Some believe he could fetch MLB's first $500 million deal when he becomes a free agent next offseason.

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