Published on June 14, 2015 by Alec Hulmes  

The use of sports celebrities in marketing a consumer’s brand is very popular today. Star athletes receive endorsement deals from huge companies with the goal of growing the company’s brand. Chris Paul is endorsed by State Farm, Peyton Manning is endorsed by Papa Johns, Michael Phelps is endorsed by Subway, Rory McIlroy is endorsed by Nike, and Derek Jeter is endorsed by Jordan and Nike and the list goes on and on. Every sport has a dozens of their top athletes pocketing millions of dollars from sponsors. But are the celebrities really using the products that they are endorsed by? More specifically, how can an athlete who is known for speed, agility, and strength, have endorsement deals with fast food companies?

The King of McDonald’s

LeBron James, who likes to refer to himself as “The King”, is perhaps the best player in the NBA right now and some could say of all time. According to Forbes, James has made $44 million from his endorsement deals this season, which is more than any other athlete. He has a long list of endorsements that include Samsung, Kia, NikeMcDonald’sCoca-Cola, Beats by Dre, Upper Deck, Tencent and Audemars Piguet.

So why is “The King” taking endorsement deals from McDonalds, when this fast food restaurant would not in fact make him a better athlete? Millions of kids aspire to be like LeBron James. When they watch TV and see their favorite athlete eating a double cheeseburger from McDonald’s, many falsely believe that eating the same food will help them grow up to be just as good as him.

But, everyone knows that fast food restaurants are not good for your health. According to a report from USA Today, “Obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention” (“Fast Food”, 2015). A huge contributing factor to obesity is the number of fast food restaurants around the country that provide cheap, fast, unhealthy food. According to that same report, for 20 years after 1983, 360 McDonalds restaurants opened every year. So shouldn’t athletes be promoting good health for all of the young fans that they have? Instead, athletes like LeBron James are promoting McDonald’s.

LeBron James – Busted

Does even “The King” know that McDonald’s is not good for you? In fact, he does. In an interview he did in February LeBron said, "I ate McDonald's my first couple years in the NBA. I didn't stretch. It didn't matter. I was 18 and I could do whatever I wanted to." He even dissed his own sponsor. Then he realized what he has just said and tried to recover by saying that he eats McDonald’s “everyday”. So what do you think, should professional athletes take endorsement deals with businesses they don’t truly support and might even cause harm to the next generation?

This blog post was written by Samford University sports administration student Alec Hulmes.