With India doing well in a range of Olympic sports in recent years, sportspersons in disciplines other than cricket have also started to score lucrative endorsement deals. Olympic and World Championship silver medallist P.V. Sindhu is the latest non-cricketer to be associated with a mega sponsorship deal. The badminton star recently signed a four-year sports sponsorship deal for a whopping Rs 50 crore with Chinese sports brand Li Ning.
The record deal comes after K. Srikanth was offered Rs 35 crore over a period of four years by the company last month.
This is not the first time Sindhu and Srikanth have signed deals with Li Ning. According to media reports, both shuttlers were with the Chinese brand earlier before signing deals with Yonex.
Saina Nehwal, the other star women's badminton player in India, has deals with Kellogg, Iodex, Fortune Oil, Top Ramen and NECC.
Boxer M.C. Mary Kom is another non-cricketer to strike it big. The six-time world champion signed a deal with Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited in September as their brand ambassador. The two-year deal will see the Olympic bronze medallist engage in promotional activities for BSNL for its various services.
Star athlete Hima Das has also joined the bandwagon. The Asian Games and World U-20 champion signed an endorsement deal with sports equipment manufacturer Adidas in September last year.
The Assam athlete has also become the brand ambassador for YONO, SBI's integrated digital banking platform, and Edelweiss. She has also become the first Indian sportsperson to be a UNICEF Youth Ambassador.
Cricket however, continues to rule the roost. Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli has emerged as the most valued celebrity in the country for the second successive year with an estimated brand worth of $170 million.
Virat signed a Rs 110 crore deal with sportswear giant Puma in February 2017. The agreement is supposed to last eight years. Apart from that, he also has deals with a host of other brands including Wrogn, MuveAcoustics, Too Yumm, Tissot, Manyavar, Royal Challenge, American Tourister, Boost Energy Drink, MRF Tyres, Uber India, Remit 2 India and Philips.
The Delhi batsman had dethroned Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan as the most valued celebrity in India for the first time in 2017.
Italian luxury sports watchmaker Panerai had announced former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni as their brand ambassador for India in December 2018.
The Indian women cricketers have also bagged their share of sponsorships with star player Smriti Mandhana being appointed the brand ambassador for Alcon, also in December last year.
The greatest cricketer of them all, Sachin Tendulkar, however, continues to be a hot target for brands even several years after his retirement.
The legendary batsman has sponsorship deals with Pepsi, Boost, Adidas, Apollo Tyres, Luminous Power, True Blue and NECC apart from several other brands.
(Ajeyo Basu can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)