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Monday, April 22, 2013
Maria Sharapova, Porsche reach deal

By Darren Rovell
ESPN.com

German car maker Porsche on Monday made what some might consider a surprising announcement: Its first global endorser would be a woman.

The brand, which is dominated by male buyers, chose tennis player Maria Sharapova to be the face of its company for the next three years.

"This says a lot about her longevity and her brand power," said her agent, Max Eisenbud. "To have a company like Porsche that is so high-end and so meticulous to allow her to stand next to their car says a lot."

Sharapova was back in Stuttgart, where the car maker is based, to defend her title in the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix. After winning there last year and winning a white Porsche 911, she went on to win the French Open. More than 88 percent of 911 buyers are men, according to research by automotive data website Edmunds.com.

"Maria is the perfect choice," said Porsche CEO Matthias Mueller. "Her profile and charisma are an ideal fit for Porsche."

Sharapova, the No. 2 women's tennis player in the world, makes about $20 million a year in endorsements, more money than any other female athlete. Part of her allure is that she appeals to both men and women.

Sharapova has deals with Nike, Cole Haan, Evian, Tag Heuer and Samsung.

She is also turning into a candy mogul with her Sugarpova brand that sells gummy candy and gumballs. Since August, the company has sold more than 1.5 million bags of its candy around the world, including 30,000 bags online in the first six months without any advertising, Eisenbud said. The candy is already sold in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Japan and will soon be in Canada, China, Korea, Peru, Colombia and Uruguay.

This is Sharapova's second car deal. She signed a deal with Land Rover in 2006 but was lost in the shuffle when Ford sold the brand less than two years later.