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Halfpiper Shaun White: One-Man Marketing Blizzard

  • USA Today, Wednesday, January 27, 2010 10:41 AM
The headline on Sal Ruibal's piece about the shaggy-haired, 23-year-old, garage-band guitarist and U.S. Olympic team snowboarder named Shaun White ignores all those carefree youthful attributes for one more befitting, oh, let's say the wizened Steve Jobs: "Marketing Mogul." White is no less than a "global phenomenon with all the credentials of a 21st-century celebrity" whose current sponsors and advertising partners include American Express, Burton Snowboards, Oakley eyewear, Tony Hawk's Birdhouse skateboards, HP computers, Target and Red Bull energy drinks.

For good reason. The defending Olympic halfpipe gold medalist is "the one action sports athlete that we can point to in our coverage where ratings go up when he's competing," says ESPN X Games creator and founder Ron Semiao. "It's very quantifiable."

He's also a case study in lining them up when they're barely able to read a contract. Burton gave White a boot design deal when he was 7, and he's stuck with the company since. "Shaun's loyalty is not contingent on just money," says company founder Jake Burton Carpenter. "His family and our family have very deep roots."



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