Roger Federer is said to be leaving his longtime sponsor Nike for a new deal at Uniqlo that will pay him $300 million over 10 years
The 36-year-old great walked out for his opening-round match at Wimbledon on Monday morning wearing a headband, jacket, shirt and socks from the Japanese brand Uniqlo. Federer, who had been wearing Nike since 1994, was still wearing Nike shoes.
Nike officials could not immediately be reached.
Sources say the deal is worth more than $300 million guaranteed over 10 years and has an unprecedented clause that says that Federer will collect the money even if he doesn’t play.
To put Federer’s $300 million Uniqlo deal in perspective, his career on-court earnings are $116.6 million.
Sources say the deal could be even more lucrative for Federer, as it includes the right for his team to sell some patches on his shirt. Nike did not allow him to do so.
Nike was given the right to match the deal and passed. Nike has already discounted most of the Federer-related gear on its website.
Federer’s deal with Nike expired March 1. Federer had continued to wear Nike without a deal, but for his opening news conference at Wimbledon, he wore an unbranded jacket.
Sources say tensions were high between Federer’s agent, Tony Godsick, and Nike, as Federer’s team was looking for more money from the brand. Nike, sources said, offered to expand Federer’s line through his “RF” logo, which Nike has owned the trademark of since 2010.
“Yeah, so the RF logo is with Nike at the moment, but it will come to me at some point,” Federer said after Monday’s 6-1, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Dusan Lajovic. “I hope rather sooner than later, that Nike can be nice and helpful in the process to bring it over to me. It’s also something that was very important for me, for the fans really.
“Look, it’s the process. But the good news is that it will come with me at one point. They are my initials. They are mine. The good thing is it’s not theirs forever. In a short period of time, it will come to me.
“Obviously we also need to figure out with Uniqlo when at one point we can start selling clothes for the public as well. All this has just gotten underway. We’re hopeful the beginning of next year people can also start buying my stuff. For the moment, as fast at retailing as they are, as great as they are, it just needs a bit of time.”
Uniqlo’s offer was too rich to match. Uniqlo is no small player: The brand is projected to pull in $29 billion in revenue by 2020. Nike is expected to be closer to $40 billion in revenue by that time.
Whether Uniqlo can cash in on Federer will be a question. The brand did not effectively market its deal with Novak Djokovic and they parted ways in 2017 when his deal ended.
“It’s a global opportunity with a lot of exciting plans,” Gosdick said. “Mr. Yanai, CEO of Uniqlo, is really excited to grow Roger’s brand in Asia and around the world. Everybody knows Roger has a tremendous appetite for fashion.
“It was a great relationship with Nike and this is going to be, too — one that carries well beyond Roger’s playing days. Long term, we can create wonderful things together.”
Federer has won 20 Grand Slams, including a record eight Wimbledon titles.