Athletes Who Will Endorse Anything

Laura DeptaFeatured ColumnistMay 15, 2014

Athletes Who Will Endorse Anything

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    Shizuo Kambayashi/Associated Press

    LeBron James makes over twice his NBA salary in endorsement deals—and it’s not just him. Many athletes supplement their already swollen incomes by working with brands to endorse products. A lot of the time, you’ll see athletes in ads for shoes, apparel or sports drinks—stuff they are likely to actually use. But sometimes, you’ll see something else entirely. 

    From Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and mayonnaise to Cliff Lee and garbage trucks, some athletes will seemingly endorse anything. Here are 14 of those athletes. Whether or not Dennis Rodman actually digs pistachios? That’s up to you to decide.

Ray Lewis

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    He may be retired from punishing opposing offenses, but Ray Lewis’s track record as an endorser without prejudice is fully intact. Over the years, Lewis’s deals have included athlete favorites such as Under Armour and Old Spice, but it was his off-the-beaten-path stuff that provided the most comedy. His hilarious commercial with LaVar Arrington and Clinton Portis for Eastern Motors was an instant classic, and who wouldn’t want to buy their very own Ray Lewis snuggie?

David Beckham

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    The soccer stud is well-known for his endorsement deals with Burger King, Samsung and H&M. But did you know that Becks is also big in Japan, having done several advertisements earlier in his career for Meiji chocolate?

Joe Montana

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    I don’t know about you, but when I think of Sketchers Shape Ups and other fat-soled, weight-loss-promising magic shoes, I think of well, females—not former NFL quarterbacks.

Wes Welker

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    From adult diapers to hair transplants, this guy does it all. To be fair, Welker did in fact get a hair transplant and is therefore well-qualified to speak on behalf of the procedure. I don’t want to speculate on his possible usage of adult diapers, but something tells me the donation Depend made to the Jimmy V Foundation had more to do with spots like this.

Joe Mauer

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Joe Mauer will endorse anything, as long as it has to do with Minnesota. In addition to deals with staples Nike and Gatorade, Mauer has endorsed Rochester-based Kemps dairy products and even Minnesota itself, in this Explore Minnesota Tourism video.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

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    LM Otero/Associated Press

    It seems that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will endorse anything because anything will endorse him. With NASCAR drivers, they often go as their car sponsors go. Earnhardt’s car is sponsored by a wide variety of companies covering every product from diet soda to mayonnaise and insurance. While NASCAR drivers in general are making less for their on-the-track efforts, Earnhardt himself is still doing well off-the-track due to his own deals with his affiliated sponsors.

Joe Namath

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    Joe Namath certainly had no qualms about peddling a product he didn’t use himself—but then again, that was the idea. Namath’s 1974 ad for Beauty Mist Pantyhose even had him laughing. You can endorse anything with a good sense of humor.

Joe Flacco

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    You’d think a Super Bowl-winning QB would be featured in big brand ads all over the country—but local ads and gummy bears? That’s Joe Flacco’s game. Flacco stays true to Baltimore, supporting locally based FirstMerit Bank and candy company Haribo.

Tom Brady

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    Tom Brady will endorse anything—as long as it’s trendy. Generally male athletes endorse products related to their profession or just their general manliness—equipment, apparel, deodorant, etc. Not Tom Brady. To be fair, this 2013 ad for UGG for Men did incorporate his profession—but pushing non-cleat footwear in addition to Movado watches and Smartwater probably doesn’t help his image as a fashionista.

Cliff Lee

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    Is it fair to say you’ll endorse anything if you’ll endorse garbage trucks? Then again, J.P Mascaro & Sons and Phiten seem to be the only companies Lee endorses, so perhaps he knows something the rest of us don’t. Besides, garbage haulers deserve a little more love anyway, right?

Mahendra Singh Dhoni

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    A.M. Ahad/Associated Press

    As of April 2014, the Indian Cricket Captain endorsed over 20 brands, according to Yahoo! Sports. These brands include Pepsico, Reebok, United Breweries Group and TVS Motors, just to name a few. And as of April 2013, Forbes reported that over half of Dhoni’s deals were worth over $1 million per year. I don’t know how he finds the time, but he is certainly going for quantity when it comes to endorsements.

Michael Vick

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    I suppose when you’ve been convicted on dogfighting charges, you have to take what you can get. Frankly, it’s amazing that Vick has been able to turn his career and image around enough to the point of getting endorsement deals again. Since his return to football, Vick has signed with Fuse Science, filmed the above spot for CURE Auto Insurance and secured (and lost) a deal with an online auction company.

    On the bright side, Nike also re-signed the QB in 2011 after dropping him four years earlier.

Dennis Rodman

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    Throughout his NBA career, Rodman’s endorsements were all over the board—fast food chains, hotels, clothing stores. But in later years, things got even weirder, namely with this bathtub commercial featuring Mike Ditka. It doesn’t stop there. Rodman also starred in an ad for Dunlop Lemans RV and a spot for pistachios featuring controversial North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. This dude has run the gamut alright.

Shaquille O'Neal

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    Shaq is pretty much the poster child for athletes who will endorse anything. His laundry list of products and brands includes cream soda, Icy Hot, Comcast, Radio Shack and Pepsi, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s not just brands, though. Shaq even shot an ad endorsing Chris Christie, the Governor of New Jersey.