Ever since Neeraj Chopra won the historic gold at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, his popularity has sky-rocketed to a whole new level, with brands lining up at his door to make him their brand ambassador.
The 23-year-old javelin thrower from Panipat, Haryana has become the new poster boy of Indian sports and more than 80 brands have already shown interest in striking a deal with him.
However, the association isn’t going to come cheap anymore as Neeraj’s brand value has gone through the roof, rising by an unprecedented 1000 percent.
As per reports, Neeraj used to charge somewhere in the region of 15-20 lakhs per advertisement before the Tokyo Olympics. However, things have changed significantly since then as Neeraj is now expected to cost 10-times more than he did before.
Neeraj’s throw of 87.58m was one of the biggest glory moments in Indian sporting history. It was India’s first Olympic gold medal in athletics and only the second individual gold medal in the history of the quadrennial event.
After his historic performance, Neeraj has entered the league of top athletes in the country in terms of his endorsement fee. In fact, Neeraj is expected to charge around Rs 2.5 crore for each endorsement, which makes him the second-highest paid athlete in the country only behind Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli, who makes in the region of Rs 1-5 crore for each advertisement.
“While we have requests from close to 80 brands, Neeraj has a limited number of free days between training camps in India and abroad over the next 12-14 months, so we have to be selective about signing on brands. These are multi-year deals which will run up to the Paris Olympics,” Mustafa Ghouse, chief executive of JSW Sports, told Economic Times.
What Neeraj has been able to achieve both on and off the field is great news for Indian sports. He has done what many top cricketers failed to do, challenge Kohli’s hegemony.
In a cricket-mad nation like India, it’s refreshing to see a track and field athlete challenging the hegemony of top cricketers, both in terms of brand value and popularity. It also shows that people are ready to look beyond cricket but for that, we need many more athletes to excel at the international stage and make the whole nation proud like the way Neeraj did in Tokyo.
Not just Neeraj, weightlifter Meerabai Chanu, badminton star PV Sindhu, wrestlers like Ravi Dahiya and Bajrang Punia captured the imagination of the country with their outstanding performances at Tokyo 2020.
They proved that there is no dearth of talent in this country and it is possible for athletes, other than cricketers, to look their opponents in the eye and even come out on top. But for that, the athletes need our love and support throughout their journey, just like how we always root for our cricketers whether they win or lose.