Saina Nehwal’s Rs 40-crore deal with Rhiti Sports Management created ripples in the sporting world— India finally had a sports star outside the field of cricket who was making as much money as an MS Dhoni or a Sachin Tendulkar.
“It is phenomenal,” said veteran sports writer Ayaz Memon of the deal. “It was unthinkable… even six months back it was unthinkable that a non-cricketer will get such a deal. Not even in cricket do a lot of players get such a deal.”
And it is a significant milestone in a country where cricket hogs all the limelight compared to other sports. But does it mean that Saina is the biggest sports star outside of cricket?
“I think she is. If you look at it just in monetary terms, she could around rank three after the top two that is Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar.”
“This deal shows two things: one is that there is immediate, instant and great reward for excellence. The second is that non-cricket sports are finding favour among the corporate houses. For Rhiti Sports, who also manage Dhoni to give her such a deal shows they are confident of raising that sort of money,” said Ayaz.
The deal surely means that a sportsperson will make enough money out of their profession if they’re good at it. “It clearly means that you can make a good vocation out of sport if you’re good. If you’re brilliant, you can make a good career. I think the Olympic medal made a huge difference.”
Comparisons of deals with Mary Kom and other Olympic medal winners may have surfaced, but Ayaz believes that such logic does not apply in this case.
“People don’t just pay for the medal, but for star-value and persona.”
To listen to the full conversation between Pulasta Dhar and Ayaz Memon, check out the video.