Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Likely No. 1 pick Zion Williamson is expected to sign a lucrative sneaker endorsement deal prior to this year's May 14 draft lottery, with sneaker companies confident he'll be a marketing superstar no matter where he lands.

Why it matters: Many in the sneaker industry believe Williamson's deal will make him one of the three highest-paid rookie sneaker endorsers ever, rivaling LeBron James and Kevin Durant.

  • Draft odds: As of this morning, New York, Phoenix and Cleveland all have a 14% chance of landing the top pick, with Chicago (12.5%) and Atlanta (10.5%) not too far behind.
"In my lifetime, I think it's going to be the biggest bidding war ever done. ... He is going to have an opportunity to be the face of every company and every major corporation. He is the most marketable person I've seen, for a lot of different reasons."
— — Famed sneaker exec Sonny Vaccaro (via ESPN)

Details: Zion will almost certainly get his own signature shoe, which is something only nine rookies in league history have ever gotten.

  • They are: Lonzo Ball (Big Baller Brand), LeBron James (Nike), Stephon Marbury (AND1), Allen Iverson (Reebok), Jerry Stackhouse (Fila), Grant Hill (Fila), Shaquille O'Neal (Reebok), Michael Jordan (Nike), Hakeem Olajuwon (Etonic).

The brands: Nike (which he has some explosive history with, of course) and Adidas (which he grew up wearing) are the two biggest players, but let's be honest — every brand is going to at least take a run at this.

  • Under Armour just signed Joel Embiid to a massive contract and has invested a ton of money into Steph Curry's overall business, so they could be strapped for cash.
  • Puma and New Balance both re-entered the basketball sneaker market last year. Might they swing for the fences in hopes that Zion could do for them what Jordan did for Nike? Do they have deep enough pockets to make it happen?
  • Chinese brand Anta, which has a deals with Klay Thompson and Gordon Hayward, can't be counted out.

The good news for Zion: The NBA is expected to allow players to enter the league directly out of high school as soon as the 2022 draft, meaning Williamson could be one of the last "lightning-in-a-bottle NCAA superstars entering the NBA with a global social media profile," writes ESPN's Nick DePaula.

  • That will work in his favor, as will the fact that he's not only a superstar on the court but also a well-spoken, extremely likable human off of it.
  • Plus, the NBA is exploding in global popularity and has a unique connection to culture that other leagues can't quite match. That makes its athletes that much more attractive — and likely worth any shoe sales-related risk.

The bad news: Speaking of shoe sales-related risk ... one could argue that Zion is entering the league at precisely the wrong time, with basketball shoes accounting for just 4% of the shoe market in 2018, down from a high of 13% just a few years earlier.

  • "The basketball sneaker business is just terrible right now," Matt Powell, a sports industry analyst at NPD Group, told me.
  • "[Zion] isn't going to generate a lot of shoe sales, so how much do you pay a guy who is essentially going to be an ambassador for your brand? I don't want to make it sound like there's no value there, but I just can't justify the cost."

Related: Why LeBron turned down $115 million from Reebok and signed with Nike for $87 million

Go deeper

Exclusive: GOP Leader McCarthy asks to meet with Biden about the border

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy at CPAC. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has requested a meeting with President Biden to discuss the rising numbers of unaccompanied migrant children at the U.S.-Mexico border, in a letter sent on Friday.

Why it matters: Biden is facing criticism from the right and the left as agency actions and media reports reveal spiking numbers of migrant children overwhelming parts of the U.S. immigration system. Recent data shows an average of 321 kids being referred to migrant shelters each day, as Axios reported.

Vaccine hesitancy drops, but with partisan divide

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

69% of the public intends to get a COVID vaccine or already has, up significantly from 60% in November, according to a report out Friday from the Pew Research Center.

Yes, but: The issue has become even more partisan, with 56% of Republicans who say they want or have already received a coronavirus vaccine compared to 83% of Democrats.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
2 hours ago - Energy & Environment

China's 5-year plan is hazy on climate

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

China's highly anticipated 5-year plan revealed on Friday provides little new information about its climate initiatives, leaving plenty to discuss in multinational meetings this year and lots of blanks for China to fill in later.

Driving the news: The top-line targets for 2025, per state media, aim to lower energy intensity by 13.5% and carbon emissions intensity by 18% — that is, measures of energy use and emissions relative to economic output.