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Volume 27 No. 5
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Pro Athletes Utilize Social Media For More Than Just Brand Building

Professional athletes "engaging with social media can be much more than an exercise in the vagaries of brand building," according to ESPN's Jeremy Schaap. When Cristiano Ronaldo "promotes a product on Instagram" to his nearly 200 million followers, he "reportedly receives" an estimated $1M per paid post. Shaquille O'Neal said if social media was around during his playing days, he "would be a trillionaire by now because to me, it's all marketing." ESPN's Paul Pierce said, "You yourself are a brand. The more you're well liked, it creates positivity toward your brand, then certain guys go out and sell T-shirts, shoes, hats and that's why they engaged, to get more likeability and you make money off of it." However, Schaap noted athletes posting on social media is "not all about dollars and cents." This generation of athletes "don't need a middleman to help them champion their causes." Texans DE J.J. Watt's efforts on social media to raise money after Hurricane Harvey in '17 collected $37M, which demonstrates the "power and upside of athlete engagement on social media." Watt said, "Part of the reason why the hurricane fundraiser was so good is because it was just face-to-face, talking to the people as opposed to a big production. You just have to be real and be you" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 1/15).