Zion Williamson has yet to sign a shoe deal but Nike, Adidas and Under Armour are among the sneaker companies expected to be competing for the No. 1 pick. Nike and Adidas have long been the favorite to land Williamson as the former Duke star has a history with both companies.
Williamson attended Duke which is a Nike school and was wearing Paul George’s signature shoe when the famous blowout occurred. Nike sent a team of people to Durham to meet with Williamson and help create custom shoes for the rest of the season. After returning from injury, Williamson was seen wearing Kyrie Irving’s shoes (Kyrie 4’s) that were specially made for the big man. Williamson wore mostly Adidas gear in high school thanks to the AAU connection.
The Pelicans new big man may not have signed with a company yet but do not take that as a sign that Williamson will not land a major deal. Williamson is expected to receive one of the bigger shoe contracts we have seen a rookie sign. ESPN’s Nick Depaula estimated that Williamson could sign a deal that is close to $100 million. Williamson’s sneaker deal is expected to be on par with Kevin Durant and LeBron James rookie contracts, per ESPN.
The first step for Williamson’s emerging marketing profile will be landing a massive sneaker endorsement deal. His star power and explosive game are expected to place him among the highest annual earnings for a rookie, right alongside the seven-year Nike deals that LeBron James signed for $87 million and Kevin Durant signed for $60 million.
As many as six brands will look to sign Williamson, including Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, New Balance, Puma and Anta.
Williamson was expected to already be signed with a company by now, but the big man is also in the midst of a lawsuit with Florida marketing company Prime Sports.
Zion Williamson’s Shoe Deal Could Be the “Biggest Bidding War Ever Done”
Sonny Vaccaro is a former sneaker executive who was part of Adidas when they were trying to land James. Vaccaro told ESPN that he expects this to be the “biggest bidding war ever.”
“In my lifetime, I think it’s going to be the biggest bidding war ever done,” Vaccaro explained ESPN. “I would put them all on go…Sitting here at this age and watching 50 years of it, Zion has made me feel like it’s 1984 [Michael Jordan’s rookie year] I’m serious.”
Vacarro also believes that Williamson has a chance to be a “billionaire” based on his marketability.
“If Zion doesn’t change, I predict that he will be the first basketball athlete at 18 years old that the world is rooting for to become a billionaire. I say billionaire, very easily,” Vaccaro noted to ESPN. “He is going to have an opportunity to be the face of every company and every major corporation. He is the most marketable person I’ve seen, for a lot of different reasons.”
We will have to see if Williamson makes an announcement soon after the NBA draft.