March 22, 2000

Sourav Ganguly - rich and famous

The captain of the Indian cricket team Sourav Ganguly is well on his way to becoming `the richest sportsperson' from Calcutta, a title that was previously shared by footballer Baichung Bhutia and tennis player Leander Paes.

Ganguly's recent promotion as captain of the Indian cricket team has more than doubled his income. Sports lovers, manufacturers of sports goods and a large number of industrial houses have been queuing up in front of Ganguly's house and his marketing agent to have a slice of the Indian captain's popularity. And if they are to be believed, Ganguly may well earn more than 20,00,000 dollars (approximately Rs eight crores) through endorsements.

Besides the amount that is being earned through matches, Ganguly is on the verge of releasing a clothes line and a perfume after his name. The company, which is manufacturing these items, have paid Ganguly an astronomical sum, to lend his name to its products. Only two other persons have attained the distinction of lending their names to such products. They are melody queen Lata Mangeshkar and film star Shah Rukh Khan.

Recently, Ganguly has also been signed up by the famous suiting company S.Kumars. Other than that, sports companies like Adidas, Nike and a few others have already started gunning for Ganguly to have him as their model. They are also ready to pay him quite a large sum. These matters are being handled by Ganguly's marketing agent, World Tel. However, the stylish left-hander, who comes from a very affluent family, is handling all the offers with a dignified approach. He knows that cricket is the first priority and money will come automatically.

The Indian captain also wants to utilise his earnings in a proper manner. That is why a number of philanthropic organisations run on his donations. And Ganguly does not want any publicity from it. An example of this is the Rs 1,00,000 that he donated for the soldiers of Kargil last year. Very few people came to know about this donation.

Ganguly also is the first sportsperson in the country to be signed up by a group named ``Call for India''. The members of this group can talk to celebrities of the country directly over the phone. Prior to Ganguly, the group had only signed up film stars. However, during the Mumbai Test against South Africa, the company signed up Ganguly as their only sports celebrity. So overall, the Indian captain is on his way in becoming a very important public figure in the country. Ganguly has a distinct advantage over some of his team mates in one area - his ability to speak clearly and precisely. This is one aspect of Ganguly's character that has given him a head start over some of his more illustrious colleagues.