Even before the game, Joe Burrow looks like the biggest Super Bowl winner

Some NFL stars sit back and let their game do the talking. Joe Burrow is loud, at least when it comes to his fashion sense.

Iridescent costumes and brightly colored sweats. T-shirts with the faces of his teammates. Sponge Bob SquarePants– themed bags. Literal pink glasses.

Yet it was the jewelry he wore after last month’s AFC Championship game that made the biggest statement. Asked by a reporter if the diamonds in her $25,000 necklace were real, Burrow smiled and say“I make too much money to have fake ones.”

Forbes can confirm that: In addition to the four-year, $36.2 million contract he signed with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2020, which paid him $24.5 million in salary and bonuses last season and 2 $.3 million this season, the 25-year-old quarterback raises an estimated $2 million a year from endorsements, appearances, licensing and memorabilia, before taxes and agent fees.

But with the Bengals poised to play for a championship in Sunday’s Super Bowl against the Los Angeles Rams, in Burrow’s only second year in the NFL, marketing pundits say a much bigger payday awaits them.

Burrow already works with brands such as Cash App, Fanatics, Nike and Lordstown Motors, an Ohio-based electric truck maker. But compared to what you might expect for a No. 1 draft pick who won a national championship and a Heisman Trophy at LSU while playing the game’s marquee position, he’s flown a bit under the radar. until now. The knee injury that ended his rookie season after ten games deserves some of the blame, but his team has just as much to do with it.

The Bengals’ history of mediocrity, with 15 playoff appearances in 54 seasons, has confined their games mostly to regional broadcasts. Despite Burrow’s 2021 breakout from the field, with 4,611 yards and 34 touchdowns through the air, he’s only played one Monday Night game and two Thursday Night games in his two seasons, with zero regular season appearance on a Sunday night show. This limited its national exposure, and its domestic market did not help, with Cincinnati ranking 44th among metropolitan areas in the nation by population.

When he found himself in the limelight, he displayed effortless composure, whether joke about the pre-draft review that his hands were too small or embracing his multitude of nicknames, from Joe Shiesty to Joe Brrr to Joe Burreaux. That matters for brands targeting young men, a hard-to-reach demographic, says Lisa Delpy Neirotti, associate professor of sports management at George Washington University.

Burrow has also shown a willingness to weigh in on the causes like the Black Lives Matter movement. Where social responsibility was once sixth or seventh on the list of brand questions for potential ambassadors, it’s now first or second, says Joe Favorito, a veteran marketing consultant and lecturer at Columbia University.

But all of that, positive or negative, is secondary to his results on the pitch. “Brands want to be associated with winners, with champions,” says Eugene Lee, senior vice president of Vanguard Sports Group who has not worked with Burrow but has represented dozens of NFL players.

This is where the Super Bowl comes in. With Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger announcing their retirements this year, following Eli Manning, Drew Brees and Philip Rivers out of the league, Marks are likely looking for the next sure bet at quarterback. If Burrow can impress on this stage and then prove it wasn’t a fluke, he won’t have to worry about the size of his home market, the same way Aaron Rodgers broke through with around 11 million dollars in annual off-roading. income from little Green Bay, Wisconsin. All those worries about its marketability will go away.

Except one, that is.

Favorito says there’s no doubt Burrow jumped into the top five NFL players on advertisers’ wish lists after his playoff breakout, which made his name familiar to 30% of Americans, up from 20 % in August, according to research firm Q Scores. But Favorito, like others in the industry, also wonders if the young quarterback is ready to commit to becoming a marketing star.

“Managing this side of the business takes work,” says Favorito. “It’s a job, as it is performing on the pitch.”

Burrow has a reputation for being extremely selective with the products he chooses to endorse. This is generally a good thing; it keeps his rates high and his spirit of winning. But for him to really capitalize on the opportunity before him, he’ll have to apply himself more, starting with social media, the biggest driver of modern marketing deals, Lee says.

Burrow entered the season with 530,000 followers on Instagram and Twitter, but closed January with more than 3 million, a growth rate of 484% that was the best of any NFL player, according to data from the platform. Hookit referral analysis tool. That put him 17th among active NFL players in total subscribers, and his 13.3% engagement rate was the fourth-highest rating for players with at least 500,000 fans, or four. times the league average.

“Engagement is the most important metric these days,” says Delpy Neirotti, “because a lot of them now rely on influencers and digital marketing over any other marketing.”

But Burrow hasn’t been very active, posting just 13 times during the season between Instagram and Twitter.

As deals roll in, Burrow needs to be sure to choose the right brands, experts say. The key is authenticity – the products or categories that really matter to her. Cryptocurrency and fintech companies are wasting money, notes Favorito, but given Burrow’s interest in fashion, a clothing or athleisure partnership might make more sense, giving him better content for its social feeds for brands that are smarter than ever about their sponsorship ROI.

Burrow clearly recognizes the money to be made: He said before his rookie year that he planned to live off his sponsorship money and let his gambling paychecks pile up in his bank account. And he has an obvious role model — if he wants one — in Brady, the quarterback he drew comparisons to for his early on-court successes.

For most of his career, Brady, like Burrow so far, put his business on hold so he could focus on football. But when he made that commitment late in his career, his earnings skyrocketed, reaching an NFL record $45 million off the field that season.

Burrow doesn’t need to aim that high or rush into anything. Balancing the two careers is tough in a brutal sport like football, notes Favorito, and if Burrow keeps winning, the offers won’t go away after this Super Bowl. Yet, there is no denying the opportunity that presents itself to him.

“I think the future is very, very bright,” Lee says, “and if I were Joe Burrow, I’d be wearing sunglasses off the court.”