Jeremy Lin has been turning a lot of heads lately. The point guard has come out of nowhere to lead the Knicks back over .500 and play some solid basketball. It’s a classic story: an under-appreciated, hard-working guy gets put in by the coach and shines. And it’s getting him a lot of endorsement deals…including, possibly, endorsing Volvos in China.
Of course, athletes are no strangers to endorsements, but car endorsements are surprisingly rare, with the obvious exception of NASCAR. Still, we found a few other professional athletes who bring home some money from the auto makers:
1. Maria Sharapova – Land Rover
Sharapova is, of course, Russia’s best tennis player and one of its more popular exports. Unlike some female tennis players, she’s actually got the skill to back up the popularity: she’s a former world-ranked number one, and has gotten that ranking four times. Currently she’s merely the second best female tennis player in the entire world. You know, minor accolades like that.
And, yes, she’s endorsed Land Rover, largely through photo shoots and ads in magazines. Although we’re not really sure what Land Rover and tennis have to do with each other: maybe it’s harder to get to Wimbledon than we think?
2. Tiger Woods – Buick
We’ll refrain from any Cadillac jokes. Besides, Woods had an endorsement deal with an entirely different brand of land-boat: the Buick. You might remember those inescapable Buick Enclave commercials, but we find this ad for the Buick Rainier more amusing, ourselves.
Buick and Tiger parted ways not because of his personal life, but because of GM’s financial struggles a few years back. Even though it wasn’t intentional, we’re pretty sure everybody in the Buick marketing department is glad that “Tiger Trap” video above is about the only connection they currently have to Tiger nowadays.
3. Derek Jeter – Ford
As we all know, Jeter is a surprisingly faithful member of the New York Yankees, leading them in hits, at-bats, games played, and pop stars dated, in addition to winning several MVP awards.
But he also has a long-standing endorsement deal with Ford that, apparently, requires him to pretend to be a car salesman in their ads and surprise small children.
Well, we suppose it beats hiding on golf courses and surprising random golfers with a chance to win an SUV.
4. Usain Bolt – BMW
It’s no secret that if you’ve got a reputation to uphold in racing, you’ll want the endorsement of the fastest man alive. And Usain Bolt qualifies: pulling in three gold medals at the 2008 Olympics, and coming in first again and again at track and field events across the world. If anybody’s fast, it’s Bolt. He’s so fast that even when he doesn’t break a record, he breaks a record: his 2011 winning time on the 200 meter race is the fastest time on that course to not break a world record.
So Bolt endorsing the M3 and taking a driver’s course on it seemed a natural fit. Of course, when Bolt later crashed his M3, he and BMW quietly parted ways. We don’t want to know how fast he was driving when he got into the accident, or how much the crash cost his auto insurance company.