Today’s LGBT athletes live in a much more accepting world than athletes who came out as gay years ago. Tennis legend Billie Jean King, for instance, said her endorsements “disappeared overnight” when she was identified as gay in a 1981 lawsuit filed by a former girlfriend. She said she lost $10 million in endorsements. But now companies are actively courting LGBT athletes. U.S. women’s soccer star Abby Wambach has numerous endorsement deals and was in a Super Bowl commercial for Mini. Former football player Michael Sam signed an endorsement deal with Visa after coming out. Brittney Griner of the WNBA became the first openly gay athlete to endorse Nike, and the company released its #BeTrue collection — one geared toward LGBT customers — in 2013.
Adidas, for its part, signed gay Olympic diver Tom Daley to be the face of its NEO label in 2014.