Sports Biz with Darren Rovell

When Does Dale Earnhardt Jr. Become Unmarketable?

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How long can an athlete endure a losing streak without it significantly affecting his or her marketability?

The auto racing world has put that question to the test.

Danica Patrick has won just 1 of 81 IRL races (1.23%). But Dale Earnhardt Jr. has Patrick easily beat on that winning percentage. “Little E” has won 1 of the last 129 Sprint Cup races (0.77%) and he’s 0 for the last 51.

Yet, Earnhardt seems to be humming along in the business world. This week, Nationwide announced this week it was renewing its deal with him and we just got the NASCAR.com SuperStore sales rankings and guess what? Earnhardt is in his familiar No. 1 spot. Here’s the list of the Top 10 best-selling drivers on the Web site:

With the exception of maybe Anna Kournikova, there has never been an athlete in the history of sports who has been so popular over such a long period of time with such little success.

Earnhardt, who recently turned 35, is clearly running out of time to live up to his last name. But at least his last name is making a living for him.

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