Olympic Athlete’s Endorsements Are Jeopardized By Injury


    Branding ExpertThis case involves an Olympic gold medalist who was rear-ended by a drunk driver causing her to suffer a mild head injury. The athlete recovered well from her injury but continued to experience limited physical ability. The athlete held a world record in her sport but because of the injury, she missed out on several opportunities to compete in events and set additional records. The athlete also had several endorsements and sponsorships that she believed were in jeopardy because of her inability to perform at her previous level. An expert in professional sports partnerships, endorsements, and contracts was sought to to opine on potential damages.

    Question(s) For Expert Witness

    • 1. Please describe your experience with athletes in cases like the one described above.
    • 2. What information would you need in order to evaluate if this incident may affect the athlete's sponsorships and endorsements?

    Expert Witness Response E-199267

    I have represented individual coaches, cyclists, soccer players, softball players, break dancers, e-gamers, football players, wrestlers, and many more athletes. I do not think the question is really about the type of athlete, but the types of endorsement agreements, which I have done a great deal of over my career. An athlete has endorsement agreements — not sponsorship agreements — unless they compete in an event. Many companies mislabel this type of contract. I have access to current data and past data on the value of contracts. This situation may also depend on the terms of the agreement. Not all endorsement agreements include a right to terminate should the athlete no place 1st, for example. Some merely state the top 10% gets you a performance bonus. So, in the true meaning, it depends on the terms and conditions of the agreement. The information I would need in order to determine how this accident would alter any sponsorships or endorsements would include the contracts, the companies involved, the races, the organizations the athlete is a member of, and the athlete’s past earnings. I would also look at the company’s earnings and their return on investment. For example, if the athlete won X competition and appeared in 4 articles in publications with X circulation, what is the value to the company for such? This is just one example. Social media is another example that could apply. I have been sworn in as an expert in sponsorship and endorsement contracts in a state court.

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