It’s about to get real for star-studded quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
The 21-year-old suspected No. 1 NFL draft pick announced Friday that he has signed his first endorsement deal — with Gatorade.
The Clemson quarterback, who is expected to be drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday, has signed a multi-year deal with the sports drink company and will be part of their marketing efforts and campaigns nationwide.
Lawrence is the first quarterback to sign with Gatorade since Cam Newton and joins other young rising stars such as Fernando Tatis Jr., Zion Williamson, Jayson Tatum and Mallory Pugh, also with the brand. The exact terms of the detail have not been disclosed.
“It’s been an important part of my sports journey since I was a kid, so I couldn’t be more excited to join the brand,” Lawrence told CNBC. “I don’t just look at the financial aspects of it, but do I really fit in with companies? … I always have to ask myself, ‘Is this me?’ So Gatorade was an easy choice,” he said.
Lawrence said his taste for Gatorade goes back years. At Clemson, he used his protein products to build muscle and maintain his weight. He said his favorite flavor of Gatorade Berry Rain.
“We want to partner with athletes who are leaders among their peers, committed to performance and authentic users of our products,” said Jeff Kearney, Gatorade Global Head of Sports Marketing. “Trevor is all of those things, and with his help, we hope to inspire and fuel the next generation of athletes.”
According to Euromonitor, Gatorade dominates the sports drinks category in the US, with a 72% retail market share. Coke’s Powerade is number two with 16% share.
According to marketing experts, Lawrence has a strong appeal to brands.
“He has a proven track record, he’s not shy and he’s not afraid to take a stand on issues,” said Joe Favorito, a sports marketing consultant and professor at Columbia University.
During his three-year career with Clemson, Lawrence led the Tigers to a national championship, finished second to Heisman, was 34-2 as a starter and was adored by fans.
Favorito said Lawrence reminds him a lot of a former New York Giants quarterback, Eli Manning.
“He wasn’t Joe Namath when he came to New York, you know, loud and boastful, he let his athletics do the talking and then figured out how to become a great brand marketer,” Favorito said.
Jacksonville area fans are already embracing the quarterback and buying him and his wife wedding gifts and donate to their favorite charities.
Lawrence said that despite the big payday coming up, not much will change for him and he isn’t planning any big splurges. His focus remains on football and his first goal is to earn the respect of his teammates.
“It’s really just not changing anything, just being who I am,” he said. “Make sure money never changes me. It won’t, but honestly I don’t care that much [the money].”
He said he has financial advisors to make sure his savings are properly accounted for, but he still plans to be involved.
“If I want to get money invested in something or a few different things, I want to know what’s going on and get educated,” he said. The Tigers star said he is keeping a close eye on his colleagues starting NFTs and is open to them in the future.
“I definitely think there is a future in that and it will be cool to see that happen,” he added.
When it comes to social media, Lawrence has the highest earning potential among the draft prospects, according to the athlete marketing agency opendorse. He can earn millions more over the course of his career through social media alone. Opendorse said he has the option to pay $10,000 per tweet or $50,000 per Instagram post.
In addition to Gatorade, Lawrence is expected to sign a clothing deal with Adidas, joining Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers, who are also Adidas supporters.
The only thing that could stand in his way in the long run: winning.
“The downside, of course, is that he’s going to a place that’s rebuilding, but that’s nothing he can control and that’s nothing a brand can control,” said Favorito. “It’s very rare that you will see an athlete be incredibly successful in the long run if they don’t perform well on the field.”