- Patrick Mahomes, who become the youngest quarterback to win Super Bowl MVP honors, says his relatability is a key factor in building his brand post-Super Bowl LIV win.
- After his win, Mahomes is poised to get even more money for endorsement deals and his next contract with the Chiefs.
In one year, Patrick Mahomes has transitioned from the Most Valuable Player of the National Football League to Super Bowl LIV champion and Super Bowl MVP.
Now come the benefits of Mahomes' rise to stardom, following the quarterback's fourth-quarter heroics in leading the Kansas City Chiefs to their first championship in 50 years. His agent, Leigh Steinberg of Steinberg Sports & Entertainment, fully understands Mahomes' next phase.
"For a player who performs dramatically, they have the ability to escape the narrow genre of hardcore football fans and cross over into the celebrity making machine to become a household name," Steinberg told CNBC last month.
And Mahomes, 24, is ready to do just that — become a household name. He's already positioned to overtake New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady as the league's merchandise king, and now the Texas native is knocking on the door to become the face of the most significant sports business in the world.
And its Mahomes' relatability that's fueling his sponsorship portfolio, which, based on the filed results, should be ready to take a massive turn upwards.
"I want to have a legacy," Mahomes told CNBC in an interview. "But I understand how much hard work it's going to take."
Mahomes told CNBC he watched videos of the late Kobe Bryant and Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James, taking notes about brand-building in hopes of emulating their success away from the field.
Mahomes, who became the youngest quarterback to win Super Bowl MVP honors this month, said retaining his relatability will be imperative to developing his brand.
"I want people to know how relatable I am and how I've been the same person that I've been my entire life," Mahomes said. "But at the same time, I feel like I'm still growing in everything that I'm doing. Every single year I feel like I have a better knowledge of not only the game, but how I want to be perceived off the field."
And how does Mahomes want to be perceived away from the NFL?
"Someone that anyone can come up and talk to. Someone that loves the sport that he plays and the people that he's around. I've had the same friends since the third grade, the same girlfriend I've had since I was a sophomore in high school," he said.
Mahomes' stock is rising in the marketing world.
While he won't disclose how much his current endorsement deals are worth, Mahomes is now in a position to start at a higher price point when negotiating his next deals, experts say. Mahomes could also reexamine his existing deals to take advantage of his rise on the field.
"His value as an endorser has gone up significantly in the last two years," said Scott Rosner, the academic director of the sports management program at Columbia University. "Not only has his value gone up, but he has the ability to position himself in a number of different ways from a branding perspective."
Rosner said Mahomes' appeal for elite brands is not only his NFL success but, again, his relatability and charisma.
"He's got it," Rosner said. "In many ways, he's the type of athlete you think of as being directly from central casting as the face of a league."
And as he transitions to becoming the face of the NFL, Rosner said, Mahomes "will have the kind of leverage in the marketplace, not only from a dollars perspective but from a selectivity perspective, that 99.9% of professional athletes, if not more, can only dream of."
In addition to his exclusive deal with Oakley, Mahomes partnered with top companies including State Farm, Adidas, and Procter and Gamble. Those deals complement local partnerships with Kansas City businesses such as CommunityAmerica Credit Union and the private jet company Airshare, a deal Mahomes secured in 2018.
As part of the terms with Airshare, Mahomes has access to the company's private jets whenever he wants to travel. The deal also allows Mahomes' family full access to fly from Texas to Kansas City to see Chiefs home games.
Andy Tretiak, the CMO of Airshare, said the partnership with Mahomes is "great for both sides," as Airshare continues to use his likeness as it expands operations to cities such as Chicago.
"I think you can make the case he's easily in the top three most marketable sports figures in the country," Tretiak said. "And I think that's only going to increase."
Though rival agencies and marketing firms suggest Mahomes' reps should be aggressive in securing long-term partnerships, Jacquelyn Dahl, the founder of 1UP Sports Marketing, said the young NFL star shouldn't "jump the gun" on new endorsements.
Dahl, who works closely with Mahomes, said he's more focused on brand management than adding more companies to his sponsorship portfolio.
"You're going to see a lot of that with him, just the overall concept of time," she said. "You look at guys like Kobe and his Mamba Mentality and how he went about his career. Everything he did bounces back to his Mamba Mentality whether it was on the court or off the court, just a mindset. Patrick, his mindset is around the concept of time and the fact that it's the one thing you can't get back."
Mahomes is approaching a new contract as he's heading into the fourth of a five-year rookie deal he signed with the Chiefs in 2017 that will pay roughly $2.7 million this year.
Officials at Steinberg Sports were tight-lipped about Mahomes' next contract, but in 2019, ESPN reported he could be in line to get a $200 million offer from the Chiefs this offseason. A deal of that valuation would make Mahomes one of the highest-paid players in the NFL.
His relatability is well-regarded, as is his attitude and character. Mahomes' endorsement price point has increased, and more revenue should follow now that he's positioned to be the new face of the NFL.
"But be careful," Rosner said. "There have been a lot of athletes who had it all who've fallen from grace. They're human. Will he have a dramatic fall from grace? Hopefully not, but what all companies deal with is that risk factor because you're dealing with people."
"But by all accounts, he seems to be someone [companies] would certainly want to align themselves with given the choice and the financial wherewithal to do so as a company," Rosner said.