Pro Runners React To Boris Berian’s Contract – Most Greatly Underestimated How Much He Was Offered

June 6, 2016

Before we posted the details of Boris Berian’s contract offer from New Balance – $125,000 a year for three years guaranteed in our reading of the contract – we asked USA 800m star Nick Symmonds on Twitter how much he thought it would be.

Nick replied immediately: $75,000 a year. Other pros started chiming in and we have some of their responses below. Interesting that of the few responses we got (we only did this for less than 30 minutes on a Saturday before publishing) no one guessed more than the value of the contract.

US marathon star Kara Goucher came in on the low end of $35-40,000, Olympic 1500m silver medallist Nick Willis predicted $50,000 a year, US 800m runner Phoebe Wright said $70,000, (Nick Symmonds said $75,000), and US 1500m guy Kyle Merber said he predicted $125,000 (but he didn’t tweet it).

What a lot of athletes wanted to get across was this is not a standard contract for a “pro” runner (and we have changed the title on our original article to note that), it was a contract for a guy with a ton of potential who came out nowhere and showed he might be able to be one of the world’s best 800m runners. Very different than the contract for an 800m guy stuck in the 1:45 range.

Others wanted to note that athletes are independent contractors and in addition to paying their own benefits, the agent usually takes a 15-20% cut of the contract.

We also received an email from an industry insider who has negotiated contracts like this before and they predicted, “My guess is that the (2015) Nike agreement was very small. NB normally drastically over pays to get the athlete they want. That’s why it’s hard to guess. I would’ve said 50k if it wasn’t NB but it could be 100k.”

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This person then added very presciently, “I guarantee Nike didn’t match the ‘no reductions’ part and that is why this is all happening.” This was before we revealed much of the lawsuit centers on whether the New Balance contract had a lack of reductions.

What did LRC readers guess?

We also had a form on the homepage where you could give us your guess. When we excluded the entries under a $1,000 and over $1.5 million, the median guess was $75,000, which was Nick Symmonds’ guess. The average guess was $112,166.

Below are the tweets from the athletes above, plus tweets from Sports Illustrated‘s Tim Layden, 800m runner Michael Rutt, Brooks Sports’ Jesse Williams, and Trackmith’s Matt Taylor.

The Tweets

US 800m star and athlete activist Nick Symmonds $75,000:

US marathon star Kara Goucher $35-40,000:

Olympic 1500m silver medallist Nick Willis: $50,000

and this response:

Pro US 800m Runner Phoebe Wright: $70,000

US 1500m runner Kyle Merber nailed it (or at least claims to have) perfectly:

Sports Illustrated’s Time Layden asked whether people thought the three-year, $125,000 a year deal a was a lot and USA 800m runner Mike Rutt responded via Twitter that it is a lot.

Kara Goucher also responded.

Tracksmith founder Matt Taylor who used to work at Puma wasn’t surprised by contract:

Nick Symmonds:

Twitter user @4casc pointed out that had an article on “reductions” in 2012 where Jesse Williams, the Sports Marketing Manager at Brooks Sports, told us, “We (Brooks) have never signed an athlete to a contract with salary reductions.” Jesse chimed in on Twitter about reductions in light of the Berian controversy. 

Others pointed out how important the lack of reductions are and how other brands (Oiselle) don’t have reductions. We have no idea what “retroactive reductions” are so we’ll have to have a separate story on them.

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