Jeremy Lin said he left tens of millions of dollars on the table by not accepting the endorsement opportunities he was offered during the height of the “Linsanity” era in New York two years ago.
The 26-year-old Lin, who is now with the Los Angeles Lakers after spending the past two seasons with the Houston Rockets, is the first Chinese- or Taiwanese-American to play in the National Basketball Association.
A Harvard University graduate, Lin only played in 35 games with the Knicks -- including 25 starts -- during the 2011-12 season, yet sparked a winning turnaround as he went from bench-warmer to star. He spawned an international craze known as Linsanity, boosting television ratings and merchandise sales in New York while his jersey became the league’s best-seller.
“If I had accepted everything, I don’t know the exact number, but I would have been making way more off the court than on the court,” said Lin, who has a $14.9 million salary in the final season of his three-year, $25 million deal. “Even the next contract after.”
Lin yesterday joined the Whistle Sports Network as a content partner, adding his YouTube channel with almost 400,000 subscribers to the 8-month-old, sports-focused digital media platform. He’s the first athlete from one of the four major professional sports leagues in the U.S. to produce content for the company and received an undisclosed equity stake.
Lin in January signed an endorsement contract with Adidas AG after his previous agreement with Nike Inc. ended, yet has largely avoided most of the sponsorship he’s been offered.
“We’ve turned away almost everything, just because I do think my purpose is to play basketball, play well, and play for the glory of God,” Lin said in a telephone interview. “The stuff off the court is great and it’s fun, but it’s definitely secondary to my primary job.”
Lin said he’s one of the few NBA players with a YouTube channel and created it mainly to connect with fans.
“What we’re trying to do with that has never been about monetization,” Lin said, adding that the Whistle Sports Network will help improve the production and reach of his videos. “That’s true for this partnership as well. A lot of what we create is purely for the fans.”