“They made it clear to me Nike would embrace it,” Welts said. “The player who does it, they’re going to be amazed at the additional opportunities that are put on the table, not the ones that are taken off.”
According to Bob Witeck, 61, a gay-marketing strategist and corporate consultant, the first openly gay team-sport athlete — provided he’s a recognizable name — would earn millions in endorsements and speaking engagements from companies seeking to capture more of a U.S. lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adult population whose annual buying power he pegs at almost $800 billion.
“We’ve passed the tipping point to where national advertisers are no longer afraid of the gay market,” said Mark Elderkin, chief executive officer of the Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based Gay Ad Network.
Former NBA player John Amaechi, who came out four years after retiring, said that teams and leagues are embracing the gays not (just) because it’s the right thing to do, but rather because it makes dollars and cents.
“Teams are not interested in diversity as a warm and fuzzy concept,” he explained. “It’s about winning. The business angle is the important angle.”