The world of sports may be waiting on a male player, or four, to step out of the closet and become the first LGBT faces of the mainstream sports world, but future WNBA star Brittney Griner, who recently came out as gay, seems to be doing just that already. She’s announced that she’s now signed a major endorsement deal with Nike.
Griner hinted at the major deal last Monday, during the WNBA’s Draft, during which she was the No. 1 Draft pick for the Phoenix Mercury.
“It’s big-time, let’s just say that,” Griner said of the deal.
Griner’s sports agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas, confirmed to USA Today that Griner’s deal was with Nike and that she’s signed the Saturday prior to her drafting.
While most expect Griner to not only dominate the WNBA but revolutionize the game, about openly gay athletes has always been that there’s a glass ceiling between them and the world of endorsement deals, which can transform a pro athlete into a brand and household name.
And though many companies are still fearful of making an LGBT athlete the face of their brand, whether because of their own fear that homophobic fans would object, Nike broke away from the traditional mindset last June when its first-ever LGBT sports summit in Portland, Oregon.
Nike recently announced, via openly gay basketball executive Rick Welts, that it wants to be the brand to endorse “the first openly gay athlete in major U.S. team sports.”
Hopefully, Griner’s success as an openly gay female athlete will help inspire both men and women in sports to live openly and help other major brands to see past homophobia and see the benefits in signing openly gay athletes.
Check out some other openly gay athletes who have been able to land endorsement deals below. – nicholas robinson