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Jason Collins, Inc.: The instant birth Of A superstar Brand

New York Business Journal, April 30, 2013

By Dan Orlando

Jason Collins, an NBA journeyman, has never averaged more than 6.4 points a game. He barely eclipsed 40 points during the entire 2012-13 season while playing for first the Boston Celtics and then the Washington Wizards. He has forged a 12-year career out of battling in the trenches and knowing his role. He is now currently a free-agent. Despite all of this, Collins’ brand is red hot.

Collins is the first active player in one of America’s top 4 sports (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL) to be openly gay.

This distinction has earned him a spot on the latest Sports Illustrated cover, a phone call from President Obama, and the opportunity to capitalize as a front man in ways that are typically reserved for the sport’s on-court elites.

Bill Borrelle, CEO of mcgarrybowen, spoke with me yesterday regarding the player’s endorsement future.

“It’s big news,” Borrelle told me. “Collins is the first openly gay athlete actively playing in American sports. As a brand endorser, he has qualities of authenticity, honesty, realness, courage and confidence.”

Collins has worn the jersey of six pro teams and has seen the court in two NBA Finals. He currently wields an endorsement deal with Nike.

“He’s a perfect fit for Nike,” Borrelle told me. “And he’s perfect for brands working to be relevant to a younger target or brands perhaps looking to modernize their image.”

Borrelle is confident that many of the brands that will reach out to Collins in the near future may not be obvious or “customary gay-friendly” brands but they could be entities that are looking to make a lasting impression with youth markets and introduce themselves to a gay community that they have yet to tap into.