US: Openly gay basketball star lands endorsement deal with Nike

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An openly-gay basketball star in the US, who came out last week in an interview, has signed an endorsement deal with sports giant Nike.

US basketball star Brittney Griner last week came out as gay, and offered advice for young women looking up to her to “just be who you are”, and not worry about what other people might be thinking.

The new Phoenix Mercury player and Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) draft pick has now signed an endorsement deal with Nike. The deal was confirmed on USA today by Lindsay Kagawa Colas, Griner’s sports agent.

The 22-year-old described the deal as “big time.”

There has been much speculation around endorsement and sponsorship deals, particularly to do with gay athletes coming out. Some have suggested that it could damage the commercial viability of a player, but many have said that is not the case.

The former executive of a National Basketball Association (NBA) team said earlier this month that the first professional sports player to come out in the US will benefit rather than suffer, potentially earning millions in endorsements for being openly gay in the field.

Super Bowl Champion Brendon Ayanbadejo, said recently that he thinks it is more likely that a baseball player will come out sooner than anyone in the NFL because of the religious nature of locker-room culture in American football.

Another prominent figure in the NFL, Chris Kluwe spoke about the possible marketing and endorsement opportunities, surrounding the first openly gay NFL player, whoever that may be.

Alan Gendreau, a gay American footballer has expressed hopes of being drafted by an NFL team, and could be the first openly-gay player the industry has anticipated for some time.