Max Eisenbud, ’super agent’ to some of the highest earning sportswomen in history, answers The Mail On Sunday’s call on the second ring, despite it being the busiest week for years in his stellar marketing career.
The 49-year-old father of two, a vice-president at talent giants IMG, is speaking from Florida just a few days after Emma Raducanu – one of his clients – stunned the world by winning the US Open aged 18, as a qualifier, without dropping a set.
The teenager from Bromley, Kent, is one of the hottest properties in sport, and one of the brightest British global prospects in generations.
Emma Raducanu could become a billionaire through her tennis career as brands fight over her
The 18-year-old superstar attended the Met Gala wearing Chanel and Tiffany and Co
Sponsorship and PR experts guesstimate she might, in a long and successful career, earn anything from £100m to £1billion. Fantasy? Maybe not.
The Mail on Sunday has learned that her two current endorsement deals to date, with sportswear giant Nike and racket supplier Wilson, are worth just £100,000 a year combined, and both are rolling one-year contracts.
Industry sources expect these either to be renewed imminently for at least 10 times as much, or be replaced by rival brands.
British sportswear firm Castore, who have deals with Andy Murray, McLaren of Formula One, the England cricket team, and Wolves, Newcastle and Rangers from football to name a few, are keen to talk to Raducanu. With Nike in pole position and Adidas circling, Eisenbud is in a seller’s market.
Among dozens of global brands from the fashion, automotive, soft drinks and beauty sectors understood to be wanting to talk to Eisenbud about Raducanu are the Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo, Aston Martin, Chanel and Lacoste, as well as several cryptocurrency companies and jewellery firm Tiffany & Co.
Raducanu’s stunning US Open victory, without dropping a set, shot her to stardom overnight
Uniqlo, who sponsor tennis great Roger Federer, are among the brands keen on Raducanu
Raducanu wore Tiffany during her US Open win and then at the glamorous Met Gala last week, when she wore Chanel.
A seven-figure deal to become a brand ambassador for Tiffany is rumoured, and insiders say endorsements worth £5m or more over the next year could be penned ‘within months, depending on what she and her advisors want to do.’
Which is where Eisenbud comes in. He was key in helping to make the former multiple Grand Slam winners Maria Sharapova and Li Na tens of millions of pounds per year in their commercial heydays.
The MOS asks Eisenbud if he can spare time to talk. He hesitates before replying, politely: ‘Not really.’
We say we know how busy he must be, but could he at least put into context how extraordinary the attention on Raducanu has been. ‘I appreciate you guys are so interested,’ he says. ‘But I can’t.’
Is it true, at least, that he is working his way through dozens of proposals each worth up to several million pounds? He pauses. ‘I just can’t comment,’ he says. ‘But thanks for the call.’
Raducanu will need to keep winning Grand Slam title to keep the sponsorships coming in
And there, in a nutshell, is quite why Eisenbud is so trusted to do the right thing by Raducanu. A source who knows him and the way IMG handle their biggest names tells the MoS: ‘One Grand Slam title doesn’t guarantee Emma anything in terms of longevity, so IMG will play zero role in any hype. They’ll be doing the opposite.
‘Talk of millions and billions won’t help Emma, or any rising star. Max will be doing what he needs to do to talk that down.
‘And last, you don’t make progress in this industry by talking about business. You make it by getting on with business.’
Sponsorship expert Conrad Wiacek, head of sport analysis at GlobalData, predicts: ‘Emma will have signed several lucrative deals before the Australian Open gets under way in January. The period between the US Open and the Australian Open is the traditional time to get deals signed.
‘Leisurewear, sports, health, fitness and lifestyle brands are all very interested. There is no one like her in British tennis with Andy Murray’s best days behind him.
‘What is massively in her favour is the fact she is connected to the three distinct and lucrative markets in in North America, Europe and Asia due to her heritage. That sends her earnings potential off the charts.’
Raducanu’s international background makes her a true worldwide star following her success
Raducanu was born in Toronto, Canada to a Romanian father and Chinese mum, was raised in Kent and made her breakthrough in New York. Already she is cultivating a huge following in China. A single post in Mandarin on Chinese social media platform Weibo had a million views within seven hours on Friday.
Sponsorship consultant Nigel Currie added: ‘If Emma can win subsequent Grand Slam events, she will become the highest earning UK female athlete of all time.’
The highest earning sportswoman in the world currently is Japan’s four-times Grand Slam singles winner, Naomi Osaka, who earned $55m (£40m) in endorsements in the last year alone – from 20 brands including Nike, Mastercard, Yonex, Louis Vuitton, Levi’s, Nissan, Tag Heuer, Beats and Panasonic among others – plus another $5m in on-court prize money.
Raducanu had 400,000 Instagram followers before her US Open win and is already rapidly closing in on Osaka’s 2.6m tally – having transcended her sport in a single tournament.
An MoS analysis of tennis prize money indicates that if Raducanu were to have a long career at the top between now and her early 30s, she might reasonably expect to make between £140m and £150m in tournament prize cash alone. Over several decades, prize money has consistently risen at an average of nine per cent annually. A single Grand Slam win worth £2m now will be worth more than £7m by 2035.
Raducanu’s potential is enormous, but, taking Max Eisenbud’s lead, perhaps the less said about that, the better. For now.