More people might know of Marv Albert or Jim Nantz, but if you ask a sports fan who the most dynamic announcer in the game, the odds are Gus Johnson will come up. He is, after all, the only announcer that fans actually tune in for, even if they have no rooting interest. He’s also one of the few with his own unofficial Internet soundboard.
Over the last year, Johnson — who is known for his booming enthusiastic calls — has begun to capitalize off his fame.
He became the voice of a Buffalo Wild Wings commercial and is in his second year of voicing lines for Madden, Electronic Arts’ exclusive NFL franchise that ranks among the most popular video games of all time.
Those who can’t get enough of his voice during March Madness can buy some of his favorite lines on iTunes for $9.99.
But Johnson’s big test will come in the next couple weeks, as he moves into the land of real commercialism.
Last fall, he trademarked his famous line “Rise And Fire” for use on athletic apparel and plans to launch a Web site some time before the NCAA men’s basketball tournament ends so that fans can buy can by hats, licensed by New Era, and T-shirts.
“The reason to trademark the phrase was to create a brand and a movement out of his signature call that can be instantly recognizable by his fans to inspire passion,” said Johnson’s marketing agent Christian Gesue. “Rise and Fire celebrates the moments of excitement and raw emotion that embodies athletic merit and achievement, in all forms, from all over the world.”
Gesue says that in addition to the clothing line, there will be other initiatives such as graphic design exhibits, picture galleries and books with “Rise and Fire Moments.”
The new Web site will also invite fans to share their own personal “Rise and Fire” moment.
“The responses that people have had to my work just warms my heart and it really makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something in my career,” Johnson said.
Many know him as a voice of NFL football games on CBS and college basketball games on the Big Ten Network, but he’s quick to remind you of the long road to get to where he has.
From Waco to Greensboro to Huntsville to Washington D.C. From ESPN to MSG to Showtime.
“What is weird for me at this point in my life as a 43-year-old man is that my real life has exceeded my dreams,” Johnson said. “It’s scary.”
As to whether Johnson needs to ever calm down from all the intensity he puts into games?
“I never want to calm myself down,” Johnson said. “I want to keep going 100 miles an hour.”
Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com