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Friday, June 14, 2024

Endorsement Magnet Shohei Ohtani Signs with New Balance

  • New Balance adds arguably baseball’s biggest name to its roster of endorsers.
  • Ohtani reportedly made $20M off the field in 2022 before taxes and agents’ fees.
Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

One of sports apparel’s most enduring brands is adding arguably baseball’s biggest name to its impressive roster of endorsers.

On Tuesday, New Balance announced that it has signed Los Angeles Angels pitcher/designated hitter Shohei Ohtani to a long-term partnership.

The 2021 American League MVP’s first campaign with the Boston-based company will be promoting a limited-edition 574 Cleat — a baseball version of the brand’s iconic sneaker. The special shoe will launch in February with a suggested retail price starting at $120.

Ohtani joins an underrated group of athlete partners at New Balance, which includes two-time Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, Sydney McLaughlin, Coco Gauff, Raheem Sterling, and Sadio Mane. The company has also worked with pop culture staples Jack Harlow and Jaden Smith.

The 28-year-old Japanese phenom is becoming a lightning rod for brands — both in the United States and in his native Japan.

  • In 2022, Ohtani reportedly made $20M off the field before taxes and agents’ fees, tripling his endorsement numbers from 2021 and serving as the highest mark in MLB in at least a decade, per Forbes.
  • He was on the covers of GQ, Sports Illustrated, and Time, as well as the video game “MLB: The Show” in the span of six months.
  • He had 17 different brand endorsements in 2022 — the most ever tracked by SponsorUnited. He also attracted 22 Japanese brands to advertise at Angels Stadium, the most of any MLB ballpark.

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“Shohei is a once-in-a-generation athlete who fits with our larger roster of athletes in their approach to their respective sports,” said New Balance’s head of baseball sports marketing Neil Brooks. “Shohei is never satisfied and is constantly pushing himself and his team to be better while letting his on-field performance speak for itself. We look forward to building the relationship and helping Shohei achieve his dreams and in the process truly change the game as we know it.”

Ohtani’s game-changing play led to him signing a one-year, $30 million contract with the Angels this offseason — the largest ever for an arbitration-eligible player. With unrestricted free agency lurking, he could be in line to sign North American sports’ first-ever $500 million contract.

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