Jeremy Lin is the World’s Fastest-Growing Sports Brand

Linsanity has infected New York City. The economic impact of Jeremy Lin, the 23-year-old basketball phenomenon for the New York Knicks in just one week is hard to grasp.

According to Times’ Brad Tuttle, “The phenomenon of undrafted Harvard grad and previous NBA benchwarmer Jeremy Lin is translating into serious money, as Knicks’ ticket prices soar and stores can’t keep up with demand for Lin jerseys and ‘Linsanity’ merchandise.  As is expected in today’s economy, though, when official methods come up short, entrepreneurs on the web fill in the gaps.  A ‘Jeremy Lin’ search at eBay yields 6,598 results, including signed playing cards, jerseys, and T-shirts.  At design-your-own merchandise site Café Press, there are currently 21 different designs, including Linsanity pajamas and Linsanity iPad cases, both with Chinese lettering.”

Consider these statistics:

  • His No. 17 jersey has been the NBA’s top online seller since February 4.
  • Knicks merchandise sales top the NBA since Lin’s breakthrough game.
  • Five of the NBA’s 10 most popular items are Knicks-related since Linsanity began.
  • A midtown Manhattan sporting goods store can’t keep Lin gear in stock; they sold out multiple shipments of jerseys and T-shirts In a single weekend.
  • The Knicks made the most of Linsanity, raising ticket prices by an average of 27 percent since Lin scored 25 points off the bench against New Jersey.
  • Madison Square Garden (MSG) stock has shot up 6.2 percent to $31.25 since the day before Lin started the Knicks on their recent five-game winning streak.

At present, Jeremy Lin’s trend is estimated to be worth $14 million and growing, making him the world’s fastest growing athlete brand.  Writing in Forbes, Mike Ozanian says that “The Knicks had $226 million of revenue during the 2010-11 season, roughly equating to 20 percent of MSG’s overall revenue.  Obviously, you cannot assign Lin one-fifth ($28 million) of MSG’s $139 million increase in market value since he began his magical run (in the past we have determined athlete brand values are the amount by which their endorsement income exceeds the average of the top peers in their sport, but that methodology can’t be applied to Lin, who was a no-name player until very recently).  But we can still get a reasonable estimate.  The New York Times reports that Lin has helped push up television ratings for the Knicks 66 percent over last season.  So if we give Lin credit for half of the $28 million, his brand weighs in at $14 million, which would place him tied with (Kobe) Bryant for sixth among the top athlete brands in the world.  I expect Lin’s endorsements to reach that mark in the near future if he can keep up his stellar play on the hardwood.”  By the 2012 – 2013 season, Forbes estimates that Lin’s brand has the potential be worth as much as $150 million a year.

Ray Ratto of CBS Sports, cautions that despite the Linsanity, all wins are essentially team efforts.  According to Ratto, “Jeremy Lin is not 4-0.  The New York Knicks are 4-0 with Jeremy Lin as their starting point guard.  There is an enormous difference between those two statements, and it is this:  We’ll link those two disparate ideas in a moment, but first, this fact: Wins and losses are not a basketball construct for purposes of evaluating players.  They never have been and never should be, because basketball is a game of tightly interlocking parts excelling for the group’s betterment.  Within that structure, there is great room for individuality and creativity, but it’s still a game of five.  Proof: How many wins does Kobe Bryant have?  How many wins does Steve Kerr have?  Or Satch Sanders?  You don’t know, and if it weren’t for, you wouldn’t be able to find it quickly, and nobody would ask you anyway.  It’s a meaningless stat, in other words.  The Knicks are playing better with Lin’s skill and energy, and that’s fine, but it doesn’t make him 4-0.  He wouldn’t be 4-0 with Golden State, Dallas or Houston, to name three other teams that didn’t get the benefit of Lin as a player.  He could, though, be part of a team that is 4-0, and given his playing style, that would statement would suit him better.”