Former NBA Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordon is enjoying the crowd during pre-race ceremonies before the start of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 22, 2010 in Concord, North Carolina.
John Harrelson | Getty Images
It's been a few weeks interesting for Michael Jordan.
The sports icon and Charlotte Hornets owner took a stake and board position in the sports betting company DraftKings and recently became a new team owner in NASCAR.
On Monday, Jordan announced its racing ownership following the acquisition of Germain Racing's team charter. Jordan is the first black majority owner of a full-time racing team in the NASCAR series since legendary driver Wendell Scott.
Longtime driver Denny Hamlin is the minority owner of the unnamed single-car team, and Wallace agreed to become the team's driver in the NASCAR Cup series. Terms for Jordan's acquisition and Wallace's multi-year pact were not made available.
Dr. Brett Boyle, a professor of marketing at Saint Louis University, praised Jordan's involvement in NASCAR and added that Jordan's and Wallace's partnership could mimic Tiger Wood's impact on golf.
"You saw younger people become interested in golf," Boyle said, referring to the PGA Tour & # 39 ;s diverse fan growth as Woods dominated the sport.
"When someone sees someone like them in a sport, they start thinking about themselves playing that sport," Boyle said. "This may increase minority interest in [NASCAR]."
Boyle said Jordan's move could be crucial for NASCAR as the organization continues to overcome condemnation of the Confederate flag and continues efforts to diversify its fan base.
"They have been struggling for about 20 years to expand beyond just southern white men," said Boyle, also CEO of SportMetric, a sports marketing and research consulting firm.
"To have Michael Jordan's brand and his personality behind a team, I think it's going to draw not only younger fans, but also African American and other minority groups," he said.
In a press release announcing the move, Jordan expressed enthusiasm for becoming a NASCAR team winner and mentioned his struggle with diversity.
"The timing seemed perfect as NASCAR evolves and embraces social change," after George Floyd died in May, Jordan said.
Wallace was the key person behind NASCAR's efforts to ban the Confederate flag. In June, he sent shock waves through the sport after asking officials to stop spectators from bringing the flag to race.
Wallace, who recently divorced Richard Petty Motorsports before joining Jordan, became the face of NASCAR's movement to fight social injustice and helped. raise awareness of the sport.
NASCAR has suffered steady television viewership over the years and suffered departures from well-known drivers, including Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart. It drew more than 6 million viewers to the Darlington race in May won by driver Kevin Harvick, but has still struggled with changing consumption habits.
With a prominent black driver in place, mixed with a remarkable sports icon and one who carries with him a "degree of credibility in that he is from North Carolina and has grown up as a NASCAR fan," noted Boyle Jordan-Hamlin The Wallace team "a game changer" in NASCAR's quest to expand.
Connections in place
If successful, Boyle said Jordan's impact would also "bring in new sponsors who have not invested in NASCAR" in previous years.
Jordan already has brand relationships in place through top companies, including the Jordan brand Nike, Pepsi, which owns Gatorade. , and now also DraftKings. This could only help the NASCAR team to apply for other sponsorships.
And Wallace has also attracted a good deal of sponsors, from DoorDash, Columbia Sportswear and Square & # 39 ;s Cash App.
A person familiar with NASCAR's plans who spoke to CNBC said Jordan's new team "checks a lot of boxes" for sponsors who want to adapt to social change. The person discussed the matter on condition of being anonymous since they were not allowed to speak publicly about the new team.
"If you are a company, will you not support Michael Jordan and Bubba Wallace while trying to promote positive change?" Said the person. "What better thing can you invest in?"
To provide a competitive car in NASCAR, the annual cost may exceed $ 20 million. Sponsorship can help as building a top car can run $ 400,000 or more. Between paying for a crew, travel, tires and other vehicle maintenance, a team can spend $ 1 million per race. Boyle said the annual cost could even reach $ 30 million.
But Boyle mentioned Jordan's competitive nature when discussing why funding would not be an issue.
"If you know anything about Michael Jordan as a businessman, he does not just go for the money grab or go for something that is going to put his name out there," Boyle said. "He just wanted to do a project like this with the intention of winning."
Boyle expected top marks would also be "first in line to sponsor the [Jordan’s] team. When he supports a product, he is very loyal to that product. I can imagine that loyalty will be returned."
Bubba Wallace, driver of # 43 Victory Junction Chevrolet, and NASCAR Hall of Famer and team owner Richard Petty watch as NASCAR drivers push Wallace in front of the net as a sign of solidarity with the driver before the NASCAR Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway June 22, 2020 in Talladega, Alabama.
Chris Graythen | Getty Images
Money aside, for those familiar with NASCAR's inner workings, Hamlin will be crucial to Jordan and Wallace's quest to dominate the sport. Hamlin, who currently runs number 11 for Joe Gibbs Racing, brings lots of knowledge and racing expertise.
Hamlin's minority ownership of the team while driving with Gibbs should not conflict either. The deal was compared to legendary driver Dale Earnhardt's decision to start his team – the DEI racing team – while still driving for Richard Childress Racing.
And Hamlin will be needed to recruit crew talent and navigate NASCAR's regulations and policies for Jordan's team. .
"It only makes sense now to lay the groundwork for my racing career after I finish driving, and also help an upcoming driver like Bubba take his career to a higher level," Hamlin said in a statement. . "In addition, Michael and Bubba can be a powerful voice together, not only in our sport, but also far beyond it."
But forming a NASCAR team will present its challenges. Unlike the NBA, Jordan is not king in this sport and will run against more experienced and knowledgeable teams.
Competing against Childress, Roger Penske and Rick Hendrick-led teams will "take time", Boyle said. But with Jordan's iconic status, it's not a difficult task to attract talent for the crew.
"I do not want to be out there to be just another car," Jordan said in an interview with the Charlotte Observer. "I feel Bubba feels the same, and Denny has definitely done it this year. We have the right people involved. Now we need the right equipment. The right information and data. Give Bubba his best chance to win."