The United States Women’s National Team did more than just establish itself as the dominant force in international soccer with its World Cup victory on Sunday. The women set themselves up for a big payday as well.
Sunday’s 5-2 victory over Japan was the highest rated soccer match, male or female, ever in the U.S., scoring a big 15.2 rating, according to Forbes.
That’s bigger than every game in the most recent NBA Finals, except for the decisive Game 6 that saw a 15.9 rating. The New York Times reports that the game was watched by a total of 26.7 million people, surpassing the number that watched last year’s men’s World Cup.
Interest in the team surged after the victory, and advertisers will certainly want to take advantage of the boost in popularity this year’s tournament brought to its best players.
The most talked about player in Sunday’s game was Carli Lloyd, who scored a hat trick and earned the Golden Ball award for best player. She could become a millionaire for her three goals in 16 minutes, the fastest ever by a player in a World Cup.
The performance blew up on Twitter, earned praise from Vice President Joe Biden, and Lloyd gained 50,000 followers on the social media platform.
Lloyd’s asking price for public appearances also doubled during the game, jumping from $15,000 to $30,000, according to ESPN. While Lloyd is still relatively low in endorsements, she has recently been featured by Nike and just closed a deal with Visa. Her agent, Josh Weil, thinks that the hat trick and award for best player will prove to be lucrative:
“A lot of what we were going to do was going to be predicated on how the World Cup went,” Weil told ESPN.com. “So we’re in pretty good shape now.”
The new star should expect an immediate return on all the buzz. Forbes reports that a $1 million to $2 million increase in endorsement income over the next two or three years is a realistic expectation for Lloyd now that she’s become so popular.
Alex Morgan, who already garnered a lot of attention before the World Cup, ought to see her public profile soar as well.
Morgan had 4.5 million followers across social media sites Twitter, Facebook and Instagram before Sunday’s big game and could be considered the wealthiest soccer star in the country right now.
Her numerous sponsorship deals include the likes of Nike, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s and amount to more than any other soccer player in the U.S., including male stars like Landon Donavan and Tim Howard. She’s even ahead of international stars like Argentina’s Lionel Messi and David Beckham of England.
One expert told Sporting News that Morgan’s commercial appeal is at the level of “mega-names like LeBron, Durant, Manning and Brady.”
She’ll pull in quite a bit from personal appearances as well, thanks to the World Cup.
A two-hour appearance from Morgan will now cost around $50,000, if not more, which is up from $30,000 at the beginning of the tournament. That’s the same as Donovan and Mia Hamm, the leader of the last women’s team to win a World Cup in 1999.
Following Morgan, the next most sought-after star will most likely be Abby Wambach. This year marked what will most likely be the 35-year-old’s final World Cup, a storyline that was followed intently by many fans throughout the tournament.
The former FIFA World Player of the Year and mainstay on the U.S. team since 2003 will earn $40,000 for appearances after the tournament. She also joined Morgan in landing a big endorsement deal with the LED lighting company Cree.
Wambach had an exciting career and her numerous achievements, which includes her position as the world’s all-time leading goal scorer for men and women, means she should still be a popular player even after her career is finished.
For story ideas, keep an eye out for any local appearances by players from the women’s national team. See if you can find out how much they’re getting paid and how popular the event is. Also, ask local sports stores if they carried jerseys during this most recent World Cup and how well they sold.