India News December 3, 2010

Dhoni signs Rs 260 million deal

MS Dhoni, the India captain, has signed a three-year deal worth Rs 260 million (about US$ 5.7 million) to promote McDowell's soda, which is owned by the UB Group headed by Vijay Mallya. "We got a very good offer, so we went for the deal," Arun Pandey, the owner of Rhiti Sports Management, told ESPNcricinfo. The deal is reportedly the largest ever signed by an Indian sportsperson.

In July, Dhoni signed a three-year endorsement deal worth approximately Rs 2.1 billion ($ 42 million) with a joint venture between Rhiti and advertising agency Mindscapes. The venture is responsible for the gamut of Dhoni's endorsements, from brand associations to digital rights, as well as his presence on social networking sites. Mindscapes was already managing Dhoni's endorsements prior to the deal, but not the rest of his properties.

The contract with McDowell's is one step towards fulfilling that obligation to Dhoni, Pandey said. They are also working on a couple of other deals, and a formal announcement is expected in January. Prior to signing with McDowell's, Dhoni was a brand ambassador for Seagram's Royal Stag Mega Cricket Signs until July, along with fellow India team-mates Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, and Harbhajan Singh. Seagram's is a competitor of the UB Group. The India captain currently endorses over twenty brands, including PepsiCo, Reebok, Aircel, and Godrej.

Last year Forbes magazine named Dhoni the world's highest paid cricketer, ahead of Sachin Tendulkar, with earnings of $10 million, $8 million of which came from endorsements.

Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo