The Dodgers gave Shohei Ohtani $700 million to hit and pitch—but also because he can sell

Category: Sports


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. jaw-dropping / ˈdʒɔˌdrɒp ɪŋ / (adj.) – extremely surprising, impressive, or remarkable

    The magician’s jaw-dropping tricks left the audience amazed.

  2. tip of the iceberg / tɪp ʌv ði ˈaɪs bərɡ / (idiom) – what is being seen or experienced is only a small, visible part of a much larger and more complex situation or problem

    The team’s poor performance is just the tip of the iceberg. They have been struggling with internal conflicts and lack of training for months.

  3. controversy / ˈkɒn trəˌvɜr si / (n.) – a situation where people have different perspectives or beliefs about a particular topic, leading to heated discussions or conflicts

    The decision to raise tuition fees caused controversy among students and parents.

  4. squeaky-clean / ˈskwi kiˈklin / (adj.) – having a clean image, free from any wrongdoing or scandal

    The politician’s squeaky-clean image helped him gain the trust of the voters.

  5. intrigue / ɪnˈtrig / (n.) – the act of making someone want to know more about something

    The politician’s sudden resignation created intrigue in the people.


Read the text below.

Shohei Ohtani’s jaw-dropping $700 million, 10-year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers has some similarities to other contracts for the world’s biggest sports stars, including soccer icons Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, along with NFL quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

In terms of his marketability, experts point to Taylor Swift. The global music sensation’s broad appeal—one that bridges the gap between generations and expands to other countries—is an extremely rare phenomenon that Ohtani shares. There’s no doubt the Dodgers hope they can leverage the Japanese star’s arrival into even more money for a franchise that is already one of the most popular in Major League Baseball.

The reason the Dodgers made that kind of commitment is simple: It’s probably worth it. Not just because he could help win the World Series, but because of the value he brings even if he doesn’t.

“If Ohtani is marketed right, he’s a globally iconic player,” said Mike Lewis, a sports business specialist at Emory University. “Baseball has sometimes struggled to gain national attention, but he’s the kind of guy who attracts millions of eyeballs, and not just from the U.S.”

As of Dec. 10, the Dodgers’ Instagram account had 3.2 million followers. Ohtani on his own has 6.3 million.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The average fan understands that Ohtani will generate revenue with more tickets, concessions, and jerseys sold.

But no player drives more interest internationally, especially in Ohtani’s native Japan, with a baseball-obsessed population of 126 million. Ohtani already has a deep group of sponsors targeting audiences on both sides of the Pacific Ocean, including New Balance, ASICS, and Porsche Japan.

For the creative folks in the advertising industry, the possibilities are almost endless.

There’s also the fact that among athletes, he’s fairly low-risk. He hasn’t had a hint of controversy throughout his career, producing a squeaky-clean image that any potential advertiser can get behind. In fact, fans know surprisingly little about his personal life—something that only seems to add intrigue.

“He’s handsome and he’s a huge box office draw,” Leigh Steinberg, an American sports agent, said. “There are very few players who can match that. He has appeal to all.”

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • In your opinion, are professional sports contracts reaching excessive amounts, such as Ohtani’s $700 million deal, justified? What effects can these massive contracts have on the sports industry as a whole? Discuss.
  • Do you think that Ohtani’s success and marketability will inspire more Japanese players to pursue careers in Major League Baseball? Why or why not? How might this impact the league’s international growth? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Do you agree that Ohtani’s clean public image makes him an ideal choice for advertisers? How influential is an athlete’s personal life in shaping their marketability? Discuss.
  • Do you think having a squeaky-clean image puts heavy pressure on athletes, artists, and icons? Why do you think so? Discuss.