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!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

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!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

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

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Beto not even best Dem against Abbott

Beto O'Rourke speaks at a rally at the Texas State Capitol in June. Photo: Sergio Flores/Getty Images

Actor Matthew McConaughey’s nine-point lead in a theoretical matchup against Greg Abbott shows just how vulnerable the hard-right Texas governor could be in a general election.

Why it matters: Abbott has won conservative accolades for his abortion, mask and vaccine bans. Axios reported Sunday that former Rep. Beto O’Rourke is preparing to announce a gubernatorial challenge — but a recent poll shows he’s not even the most popular Democrat in the state.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Delayed maps upend midterm campaigns

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Midterm candidates are panicking about how the congressional maps will ultimately be drawn, with several strategists telling Axios campaigns are in limbo.

Why it matters: Candidates are unsure if the district they're targeting will remain intact or be reshaped by the process. The uncertainty is especially vexing to Democrats, who are vying to maintain their narrow margin in the House.

First look: Conservatives' 2022 big target: Tax increases

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Conservative groups are unveiling huge ad-buys going after vulnerable House Democrats over tax increases and other revenue measures in their party's massive infrastructure spending bill, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: President Biden and Democrats have an immense amount of political capital riding on a $3.5 trillion bill facing razor-thin margins in both chambers. Conservatives are running ads targeting the House members who leaders will need to pass the measure.