Can Alvin Kamara's involvement in NASCAR generate new interest in the sport and create new and diverse fans from unlikely places in today's culture?
NASCAR is projected to be a billion-dollar sport. In 2017, only 9% of its viewing fans were minorities. 25% of fans are classified as multicultural.
Being unique and a trendsetter is Alvin Kamara's specialty. He's setting records on the field as an NFL superstar, a ROY, Pro-Bowler, and All-Pro. These days, Kamara is finding success as an astute businessman. Follow Warren Buffet, Oprah, Elon Musk, Tyler Perry, Mark Cuban, or Gary Vee's [Vaynerchuk] methods and business tactics, and you will notice one thing - they are unconventional. These billionaires and millionaires had quirky styles and approaches to the business world.
Alvin Kamara did not use exhaustive research and data analytics before becoming Ryan Vargas' sponsor. He just knew a good deal when he heard one and quickly acted on it.
Alvin and Ryan Vargas spoke with the media via a Zoom call on Friday. Kamara had several interesting takeaways in the session.
Alvin disclosed how his sponsorship came into fruition, "Like I said. I've never had any experience with NASCAR sponsorship on that side. I've now been a fan for a short period now. But as far as sponsorship? I had a number [in his mind], I'm like, oh this is going to be a million dollars, and I'm like, all right well, let me figure it out. Then when I heard the price, I'm like, oh yeah, come on." Kamara continued, "it's perfect timing, and I felt like everything was aligning in the universe," as he quickly engaged in sponsoring Vargas.
Kamara's sponsorship of Ryan Vargas' #6 car in the NASCAR Xfinity Racing Series (NXS) has sparked new interest from many unfamiliar with the sport - NFL athletes, Hip Hop lovers, and fans.
On the Zoom call, Kamara passionately expressed that his Saints teammates, "Craig Robertson and Cam [Jordan] have reached out" and added he's talked to "former teammate, Mark Ingram about it,...they're like, Man, this really is cool obviously what I'm doing. But just the sport, as a whole, they're like, Man, you really like? So hopefully, when this COVID thing and restrictions get a little more relaxed,...I will pay for everybody to come to a race, and sit in a suite, so you can see what's going on."
NASCAR report Chase Holden asked Kamara about his influence and how to get people interested in the sport in Louisiana:
Kamara's friends, teammates, and NFL fans may be unaware of NASCAR's allure, but changes are on the horizon. Last season, Alvin attended a race in Florida in support of African American NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace. Since the Black Lives Matter movement after George Floyd's death created a new awareness in the U.S., NASCAR took notice and made significant changes.
When I spoke with Son of a Saint Founder, Sonny Lee, he mentioned how Kamara's sponsorship and interest in their charity could open new insight for him and the kids to NASCAR.
First, the organization banned the confederate flag from being flown at NASCAR-sponsored events. Second, the investigation into an alleged "noose" that NASCAR officials noticed in a garage area designated for Bubba Wallace.
This past Sunday, NBA owner and legend Michael Jordan became an African American NASCAR car owner at Daytona. Jordan recruited Bubba Wallace to be his first driver of the 23 car for 23XI Racing team. Former NBAer Brad Daugherty was already a co-owner of NASCAR Cup Series team JTG Daugherty Racing.
Jordan understands the numbers and the business implications of owning a racing team. In 2019, Hendrick Motorsports was considered the most valuable NASCAR team with $315M in revenue. Hall of Fame NFL Coach Joe Gibbs' team, 2nd to Hendrick's team, was valued at $230M that same year. Kamara connects to this generation. You may soon witness a surge in a new and more diverse fanbase for NASCAR.
NASCAR is an extremely popular sport and generates millions in revenue each year. In 2017, Statista reported on 3% of NASCAR viewers were African American compared to 91% white viewers. An increase in minority fans could help profit NASCAR by millions of dollars. NASCAR projects its overall demographics as 75% white, and 25% multicultural in 2020. The 25% increased by 5% from 20% in 2011. Black fans make up 9% of the total.
According to WSN, NASCAR made $660M in television revenue for 2019. Get this nugget from the report - "nearly half of Fortune 100 companies invest in the racing league, and more than one in four (28%) of Fortune 500 companies invest in NASCAR."
Kamara, Jordan, Daugherty, and other potential minority owners and sponsors could see major paydays away from the game of football by investing in NASCAR. The appeal and money are there for Kamara and others. Hopefully, stars like Kamara could team with other notable Saints and NFL players like Cam Jordan, Drew Brees, Mark Ingram, and more.
Today, what matters is how well Vargas will perform on the track and better the investments of Kamara, The Big Squeezy, and the Son of a Saint charity.
We shall see.