Chinese Sneaker Company Anta Adds Jordan Clarkson To Growing Superstar Roster | Utah Jazz Sharpshooter Joins Kyrie Irving And Klay Thompson

Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson is the latest athlete to sign an endorsement deal with Chinese sports equipment and apparel company Anta. Clarkson will wear Anta exclusively for the upcoming 2023 FIBA World Cup, and both sides are talking about extending the agreement for the upcoming NBA season. Why are NBA players signing with Anta?

It’s All About The Benjamins

Anta is the world’s largest purely sports equipment company by revenue and third-largest manufacturer of sporting goods overall, behind Nike and Adidas. In 2021 Anta posted annual revenues of $7.1 billion. Their current market capitalization is 222 billion HK$ which is more than $28 billion in US dollars.

The traditional brands that American players grew up with, Nike and Adidas, are selective about whom they pay endorsement contracts to and even more selective with who gets a signature shoe line.

Most NBA players that wear Nike or Adidas have what is called a merchandise deal. “Merch” deals are for the rank-and-file. Players are provided merchandise from the brand up to a specific dollar amount, and it re-ups annually.

Players can share that merchandise with whomever they want. These deals can come with cash bonuses. For example winning the skills challenge at All-Star weekend.

Then there are cash deals with player-exclusive colorways. These are for the better players but do not include signature shoes. Memphis Grizzlies All-Star Jaren Jackson Jr. signed a multiyear cash deal with Nike, and he’s seen wearing KDs and the Nike Air Zoom G.T. Jump in player-exclusive colorways.

For a player like Clarkson, why fight for scraps and potentially only get a merch deal, while an Anta deal will likely pay cash?

Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson could have signed a cash deal with Nike or Adidas. But the Anta deal likely paid him more, which is why he signed with them.

Anta Wants A Foothold In The US

Anta is trying to gain a foothold in the US market. Given that, they have to spend more for the same players Nike and Adidas can get on lower cash deals. Nike and Adidas have brand equity and loyalty in the US. Anta does not.

However Anta made a big splash this summer before signing Clarkson.

Dallas Mavericks’ guard Kyrie Irving, who was dropped by Nike for his promotion of an anti-Semitic movie, signed a sneaker contract with Anta and is now the company’s chief creative officer.

As a result a portion of Anta’s manufacturing will come to the US in an effort to grow the company’s distribution.

Irving will also recruit other NBA players and influencers to sign on with Anta. Despite regularly being in the middle of a controversy, Irving is very popular among his peers and influential with the younger hoop generation. Don’t be surprised if some other big names and highly touted prospects are a part of the Anta family in the next few years.

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