Johnson could be a $1m man

Johnson could be a $1m man, by Jason Avedissian - 10th May 2003
(Credit: News Interactive)

Leading sports agents are convinced Patrick Johnson has the capacity to turn his speed into million-dollar sponsorship deals.

What's more, the 30-year-old is set to become the next golden face of Australian athletics, just like Cathy Freeman, if he maintains his outstanding form.

The first test of that comes today in Japan when Johnson competes against the world record-holder, American Tim Montgomery over 100m in the Osaka grand prix.

Freeman's former manager, Sean Anderson, now with AMI Sport and Entertainment, says Johnson has what it takes to rake in the big bucks.

"When he becomes the fastest man in the world then we are talking serious deals," Anderson said.

"It can be between $500,000 and a million dollars.

"If he keeps up with his form there will be a lot of companies that would want to associate with him.

"He's very marketable. He's got a terrific personality and is very humble."

Lleyton Hewitt's manager, Rob Aivatoglou, of Octagon, said Johnson's earning potential hinged on his ability to back up his electrifying 9.93sec run in Japan on Monday.

"If he was to win a gold medal at the Olympics, I think you are probably looking at a six figure level, possibly more," he said.

"There could be significant opportunities.

"It's an unbelievable opportunity he's got."

Celebrity agent Max Markson is another talking big numbers for Johnson who is only currently sponsored by Westpac and his employer, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Markson says Johnson "should be able to pick up around $750,000" between now and the Olympics in 2004 and potentially "double or triple that" if he is crowned world champion in Paris in August.

"Everyone now knows who Patrick Johnson is," Markson said.

Anderson also likes to compare Johnson to his former client.

"There is a lot of similarities with Cathy Freeman," Anderson admits.

"Both had very humble beginnings and tremendous personalities, wonderful reputation and they are both letting results speak for themselves.

"Obviously you can't deny the Aboriginal element.

"Both are very proud Australians, strutting the world stage and tremendous ambassadors.

"There are tremendous parallels."

Craig Dodson, of Melbourne firm Sponsorship Solutions, says Johnson's clean image will place him ahead of others.

"He is visually appealing and he's very well behaved from a sponsors perspective," Dodson said. "He is an ideal spokesman for a number of products and if he can take off he has the potential to be a celebrity in Australia and internationally."

According to Business Review Weekly's top 50 Australian sports earners list for 2002, Freeman was the highest earner in athletics with $1.7 million, 29th overall behind perennial leader Greg Norman ($24.6 million).


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Markson Sparks!