New Delhi :Saina Nehwal has really hit pay dirt in the last 12 months. A hat-trick of titles, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, a very dramatic Commonwealth Games gold medal and now possibly a medal at the Asiad too. That's made her one very popular girl indeed and not just with the public!
Saina Nehwal says her grandmother didn't see her for a month because she was disappointed at having a 2nd granddaughter. Now this girl isn't just the pride of Haryana but all of India.
Saina has won three titles this year. She's world number 3 and the Commonwealth Games gold medal has doubled her value with the sponsors. Airtel, who have always used the biggest celebrities for their branding, have signed her on for 1 crore. The ad is due to hit your TVs by the end of this year.
The most sought after sportspeople in India are obviously Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni. While Dhoni has more brands in his kitty, Sachin gets more per deal. Sehwag is probably number 3 at 1.5 crore per year per endorsement.
Saina though clearly is the number 1 non-cricket sportsperson in India, having replaced Sania Mirza whose poor form has left her with just 2 brands.
Boxer Vijender Singh at 35 lakhs per deal is also a hot property.
No of Brands Charges Per Brand/Per Year
Tendulkar 10 Rs 5 Cr
Dhoni 19 Rs 5 Cr
Sehwag 9 Rs 1.5 Cr
Saina Nehwal 4 Rs 1 Cr
Sania Mirza 2 Rs 75 Lakhs
Vijender Singh 5 Rs 35 Lakhs
"If you see her performances and brand value over the last 18 months, no one has risen so fast so quickly and while you have other people like Viswanathan Anand or Abhinav Bindra, but just in terms of pure rise over the last year in terms of performances and brand value, she is your number one non cricketing sportsperson, " said Indranil Das, Chief Operating Officer, Kwan Entertainment & Marketing.
Mahesh Bhupathi's Globosport which got Saina her first major deal with herbal-life in 2008 still works with Saina.
A delighted Mahesh said that he anticipates that her brand will only get bigger and better given that she is the face of Indian sport right now. "The Badminton Queen, ranked at No. 3 worldwide is the face of Indian sport today. She truly deserves everything she is getting and it's only just going to get bigger and better," he said.
Saina is currently managed by Deccan Chronicle, the owners of the IPL team, and if she goes on to win a medal at the Asian Games next month then that 1 crore price tag could rapidly multiply.