Jason Collins’ Story Could Be Sought By Brands


Jason Collins PR
Jason Collins. Image: ESPN

Jason Collins became the first active athlete from one of the four major professional leagues to announce that he is gay. Collins' first-person coming-out story appeared Monday on the Sports Illustrated's website rather than in a tweet or on his Instagram account, so score one for traditional media oulets. While just a day earlier most non-NBA fans had probably never heard of Collins, by late Monday millions on social-media channels, as well as Nike, were showing their support of Collins.

"We admire Jason's courage and are proud that he is a Nike athlete. Nike believes in a level playing field where an athlete's sexual orientation is not a consideration," the sports apparel and shoe company said in a statement, reports The Christian Science Monitor.

Collins, 34, is a 12-year veteran of six NBA teams, and one who has not averaged more than 2 points or rebounds in years, according to The New York Times. He began this season with the Boston Celtics but right before the trading deadline in February was dealt to the Washington Wizards. He's now a free agent for the 2013 season. However, it may not be just NBA teams that look to add him to their mix. If Collins plays again in 2013, other brands could also flock to him for sponsorships. 

"There is a huge marketing opportunity presented by a gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual community that contributes $790 billion annually in spending to the U.S. economy," reports The Monitor. 

While Collins' on-the-court talent still won't make him a household name in 2013, there is likely no shortage of companies that would seek to use him in a positive, uplifting message. 

Follow Bill Miltenberg: @bmiltenberg