Nike looks to tap youngsters with $ multimillion deals

MUMBAI: He is not yet 14 years old but he has signed a deal with Nike that will make him a millionaire.

The lad in question is football striker Freddy Adu. A Reuters report indicates that the deal is worth betwen $1-1.5 mn.

He recently scored a goal for the US under-17 team in a 3-2 friendly international victory over Costa Rica. In its report of Monday's under-17 match against Costa Rica in Lancaster, California, the US Soccer Federation said Adu's goal came "after finishing off a beautiful dribbling showcase."

Adu is said to be focusing on the under-17 FIFA World Youth Championship in Finland in August. After that his next goal is to represent the US at next year's Olympic Games in Athens.

Adu's deal however pales next to the one Nike signed with 18 year basketball sensation LeBron James from Ohio. His contract is said to be in the region of $90 million. It is interesting that the 6ft 8in James has yet to play a professional game. He first took to the court for his high-school team in December 1999. While Nike hasn't bought him outright it has upped the stakes. Only its US$125 million deal with golfer Tiger Woods is ahead.

James will have to prove his mettle season after season in order to continue earning his keep. If, however, he can continously produce magic he will have retired long before touching 30. Nike clearly believes that it has found the next Michael Jordan and is therefore going the whole hog in a manner of speaking.

James has done extremely well for someone who grew up in the company of drugs and drive by shootings.

After finishing high school next month James will start playing in the NBA after being drafted for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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