Chinese Badminton Champion Lin Dan Could Face Sponsor Backlash After Affair Scandal
Chinese badminton player Lin Dan is said to be worth as much as $32.5M "thanks to his many endorsement deals," but he could "stand to lose it all," according to James Porteous of the SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST. It "might be hard for those outside of Asia to understand" how badminton could "create the biggest celebrity scandal China has seen in years." But Lin ranks alongside former tennis player Li Na and NBA Hall of Famer Yao Ming as "China's biggest sporting stars." Lin, who is married, was photographed by a Weibo user "with a model-stroke-actress in October." The fact his wife, a former badminton player herself, was pregnant with their first child at the time "merely added to the outrage expressed by many of Lin's now former fans." In the west, "companies have been swift to distance themselves from scandal embroiled athletes." Lin "will now be sweating," according to Tom Elsden of Mailman Group, a sports marketing agency in Shanghai that has worked with brands including ManU, the Bundesliga and Kobe Bryant in China. Elsden said, "The post has reached over 1 billion reads on Weibo, the same level as Kobe Bryant’s retirement announcement, and the online sentiment is very negative. The brands who endorse him -- Dolce & Gabbana, Montblanc, Yonex etc. -- are unlikely to respond positively to this news and we expect that there will be serious financial consequences." Some are "not so sure that Lin will face the fate" of Maria Sharapova or Ryan Lochte. Beijing-based Mark Dreyer, the editor of China Sports Insider and a former sports reporter with CCTV, said, "It is true to say that the rules are different in China." Dreyer also "suggested his swift apology might see him safe." Lin's sponsors are "refusing to comment" (SCMP, 11/19).