The Top Endorsement Partnerships Between Athletes and Tech Companies

Technology companies have always lent themselves to natural partnerships in the sports world. But as technology advances, so does the crowded sponsorship space in the technology sector. 

In recent years, the data and analytics side of professional sports has become mainstream. And with it, comes natural integration – from predictive AI to video calls on a multitude of platforms to the cloud capabilities of some others, there’s plenty of different sponsorship activations to look at.

Whether it’s LeBron James working with Microsoft & Warner Brothers on a blockbuster movie video game, or Kevin Durant being a partner in his own Silicon Valley company (Can Durant sponsor Durant!?!), we’ve seen the world’s largest tech companies use the biggest names in each game around the globe as a partner.

Steph Curry | Rakuten

57.7M Total Social Followers

14.8M Twitter Followers

10.6M Facebook Followers

32.3M Instagram Followers

Curry’s partnership with Rakuten began in 2019, and includes a multi-year agreement which makes him a Brand Ambassador and lays the ground for collaboration on branding and marketing efforts for the company’s global e-commerce business and membership program, with a special focus on the United States. Rakuten was also named the title sponsor of Curry’s first-of-its-kind basketball camp for overlooked prep athletes, “Underrated Tour, powered by Rakuten.

Larry Fitzgerald | IBM

4.1M Total Social Followers

 2.2M Twitter Followers

 1.1M Facebook Followers

 785K Instagram Followers

Fitzgerald’s partnership with IBM includes a starring role in the company’s IBM Watson commercials, with a fantasy football focus. These could be seen throughout the 2020 NFL season and on Fitzgerald’s social media channels.

Frances Tiafoe | IBM

193.6K Total Social Followers

37.3K Twitter Followers

13.3K Facebook Followers

143K Instagram Followers

Being the youngest American ranked in the ATP’s Top 50 comes with some perks, including a new deal with IBM in 2019 – just in time for the U.S. Open on an international stage. Tiafoe has been seen endorsing IBM’s AI Insights.

Kevin Durant | Google

30.5M Total Social Followers

18.6M Twitter Followers

11.9M Facebook Followers

11.7M Instagram Followers

Spending several years near Silicon Valley rubbed off on Durant, as he’s made a name for himself in the tech industry, as a partner in the Durant Company. One of Durant’s biggest endorsements off the court comes from the tech world’s largest with Google. He was featured in a 2018 commercial for the Google Home product among others.

Virat Kohli | Google

172.1M Total Social Followers

39.9M Twitter Followers

43.4M Facebook Followers

88.8M Instagram Followers

One of the world’s most famous athletes is one of Google’s partners. Kohli has been featured with his wife along his side in Google Duo commercials. But as the COVID-19 pandemic worsened, he collaborated with Google India and took part in a special virtual meet and greet with students in the summer of 2020.

Seth Curry | Google

3.1M Total Social Followers

312.7K Twitter Followers

829.8K Facebook Followers

2M Instagram Followers

Kyle Lowry | Google

2.6M Total Social Followers

986.7K Twitter Followers

8.6K Facebook followers

1.6M Instagram Followers

Al Horford | Intel

1.4M Total Social Followers

353.8K Twitter Followers

496.3K Facebook followers

532K Instagram Followers

When Intel was launching its new virtual reality capabilities with the NBA, Horford played a role as one of the tech company’s partners. The partnership included social media posts in 2017.

Maia Shibutani | Intel

516K Total Social Followers

108.7K Twitter Followers

9.6K Facebook followers

398K Instagram Followers

As one of Intel’s 2018 Winter Olympic athletes, Maia was one of the stars, skating alongside her brother Alex. The pair announced a partnership with Intel in January 2018.

Deshaun Watson | Samsung

3.1M Total Social Followers

1.4M Twitter Followers

187.6K Facebook Followers

1.5M Instagram Followers

Watson has become one of Samsung’s most-featured athletes in 2020, seen with social media posts about the company’s Galaxy phone product. Samsung also featured Watson and his mother in a campaign that connected to his large foundation.

Myth | Samsung

9.6M Total Social Followers

2.4M Twitter Followers

117.4K Facebook followers

7.1M Instagram Followers

Samsung recently added Myth as a partner, and the pro gamer has been part of #TeamGalaxy throughout 2020, showing off the mobile gaming capabilities of the Samsung Galaxy.

Robert Whittaker | Samsung

1.2M Total Social Followers

179.8K Twitter Followers

141.4K Facebook Followers

919K Instagram Followers

Whittaker joined Samsung Australia in December 2020 to promote an #OwnIt campaign on social media channels for its Samsung Galaxy phone product.

Tony Kanaan | Samsung

918K Total Social Followers

640.1K Twitter Followers

97K Facebook Followers

181K Instagram Followers

Samsung used Kanaan’s love of gaming to promote the company’s new G9 line of gaming monitors in 2020.

Josh Green | AT&T

165K Total Social Followers

17.8K Twitter Followers

0 Facebook Followers

147K Instagram Followers

Green helped AT&T partner with the NBA and Connected Nation in December 2020, with the goal to keep students connected to school while home.

Markus Howard | AT&T

63.2K Total Social Followers

10.8K Twitter Followers

52.4K Instagram Followers

AT&T added Markus Howard as a partner for its 5G smartphone campaign. Howard posted on Twitter and was mentioned by the company in a tweet.

Phil Mickelson | AT&T

1.7M Total Social Followers

607K Twitter Followers

74.9K Facebook Followers

1M Instagram Followers

Jordan Spieth | AT&T

3.9M Total Social Followers

1.9M Twitter Followers

502.9K Facebook Followers

1.5M Instagram Followers

Spieth has enjoyed a long relationship with AT&T, including as the feature in an AR experiential buildout at Pebble Beach in 2019 for the company.

Andre Drummond | AT&T

2.4M Total Social Followers

817.7K Twitter Followers

423.9K Facebook Followers

1.2M Instagram Followers

Drummond found himself featured in a 2018 AT&T television spot with Terry Crews for the company’s unlimited wireless campaign.

Drew Brees | Verizon

6.9M Total Social Followers

3.2M Twitter Followers

2M Facebook Followers

1.7M Instagram followers

One of Brees’ longest partners is Verizon, which included appearances at various Super Bowl events sponsored by the company, in addition to posts across his social media channels.

Bradley Beal | Verizon

4.9M Total Social Followers

3.2M Twitter Followers

521.5K Facebook Followers

1.2M Instagram Followers

Beal was featured in a Verizon campaign at the 2018 NBA All-Star Game for its 5G-powered first-person VR goggles. The camera captured Beal’s peripheral vision from the headset and beamed it to Verizon’s 5G network and then back to the player in virtual reality.

J.D. Martinez | T-Mobile

487K Total Social Followers

144.2K Twitter Followers

17K Facebook Followers

326K Instagram Followers

As one of MLB’s largest sponsors, T-Mobile has partnered with Martinez in the past in campaigns like the ’T-Mobile Rituals.’ Martinez has also been used in T-Mobile tweets.

LeBron James | Microsoft

151.2M Total Social Followers

48.7M Twitter Followers

25.5M Facebook Followers

77M Instagram Followers

In a recently formed partnership, LeBron James has joined Microsoft and Warner Brothers to create new coding education opportunities themed around the upcoming movie Space Jam: A New Legacy. James plays a lead role in the movie, and the hope of this program is for budding coders to have new opportunities through workshops and contests.

Fletcher Cox | Microsoft

615.6K Total Social Followers

277.5K Twitter Followers

3.1K Facebook Followers

335K Instagram Followers

In a year when Microsoft Teams was needed more than ever, Cox helped showcase the capabilities of someone like NBC’s Cris Collinsworth being able to talk to Cox despite not being able to be at practice.

JuJu Smith-Schuster | Microsoft

4.8M Total Social Followers

1.1M Twitter Followers

317.4K Facebook Followers

3.4M Instagram Followers

Smith-Schuster partnered with Microsoft since 2019, including on the Microsoft Surface and Microsoft Bing. The JuJu Foundation also partnered with Microsoft Bing in the Fall of 2020.

Coco Gauff | Microsoft

1.1M Total Social Followers

208.4K Twitter Followers

274K Facebook Followers

666K Instagram Followers

Gauff is a rising phenom in the tennis world, and Microsoft has already featured her, focused on her love of data and analytics to help her train.

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