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THE WINNER, AND NEW MARKETING HEAVYWEIGHT -- GEORGE FOREMAN
Published November 8, 1994
George Foreman's knockout punch Saturday night "appears to have created a new advertising star out of an aging, rotund athlete. ... Analysts say Foreman's unlikely win, coupled with his reputation as a 'clean-cut' family man and ordained minister, are just the ingredients needed to make him one of the most successful celebrity product spokesmen" -- ranking alongside Michael Jordan and Bo Jackson. Henry Holmes, who handles endorsements for Foreman, said he had "no less than 150 telephone messages from people wanting to make deals" (Lisa Respers, L.A. TIMES, 11/8). New offers offers could double Foreman's annual endorsement fees to $6M over the next year, with the possibility of an additional $2M in motivational speaking fees. Jay Coleman, president of Entertainment and Marketing Communications International, who helped put Foreman in his existing deal with Frito-Lay, is trying to match Foreman with a truck-maker. Coleman: "He's a tough guy who can take a lot of punishment. That has truck marketing written all over it" (Bruce Horovitz, USA TODAY, 11/8). BOXING ILLUSTRATED Publisher Bert Sugar: "This is a great moment for every old, fat, bald person in the country" (Tom McCollister, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 11/8). A survey by American Data Sports last year showed Foreman 11th out of 77 athletes in terms of consumer recognition, and 17th in terms of influence as an endorser. American Data Sports' Harvey Lauer expects Foreman's endorsement potential to increase "exponentially" (AP/N.Y. POST, 11/8). HBO'S MEAL TICKET: Time Warner Sports President Seth Abraham was "in orbit" over Foreman's win: "George is going to change the boxing business. Only Babe Ruth, Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordan have changed the business of their sports. ... It's unfathomable." HBO now will have to pay Foreman more per bout, and "will gladly do so." Foreman's appeal could push his future bouts against big name heavyweights to pay-per-view on TVKO (Richard Sandomir, N.Y. TIMES, 11/8). ESPN's Bob Ley: "Foreman the Champion has the largest persona, the broadest image, and the most juice of any champion since Mike Tyson" ("SportsCenter," 11/7). NOT TOTALLY ON THE BANDWAGON: Steve Zipay doesn't buy the comparison of Foreman to athletes such as Jordan ("Moorer regained his senses faster than some of the boxing media ... Foreman looked his age"), but he does believe Foreman can help boxing. Zipay writes, "It's one sport that doesn't need a senior tour, like golf, to keep its legends available for public consumption" (N.Y. NEWSDAY, 11/8).