Traditional athletes have long been able to cash in sponsorships. The highest-paid athlete according to Forbes — Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo — earns $35 million a year in endorsements alone.
However, viral clips from niche sports are also in demand, regardless if the games can fill a stadium. Brodie Smith has made a living from frisbee trick shots, while Dude Perfect scored TV and toy deals for sinking seemingly impossible basketball shots. Influencer marketing company Trend Pie said niche athletes can take home between $50 for a simple tweet to link to existing content to $10,000 for a custom video on Instagram for a bigger brand.
“Social media has that power to amplify that content,” said Victor Ricci, founder of marketing strategists Trend Pie. “These trick shots are essentially spins on standard and essential sports. Every kid grows up playing soccer and basketball. If you can do anything in a different and unique way it generally attracts people’s attention.”
Cowie in particular has become an in-demand spokespeople for teen-focused lifestyle brands said Moj Mahdara, the CEO of a beauty product festival called Beautycon. Although traditional beauty influencers are still popular, the genre has expanded past makeup tutorials and fashion to include fitness figures.
Cowie, who has more than 565,000 followers on Instagram and 71,000 followers on YouTube, rose to international fame after being crowned the FIFA Street World freestyle champion by soccer star Lionel Messi in 2012. She’s also juggled a soccer ball an impressive 102 times with her heels to earn a Guinness World Record. In 2015, she became the first woman to complete a three revolution, moving your foot three times around the ball while it is still the air.
“It seems overwhelming, but every trick is made of a few basic tricks,” she explained.
It also helps that today’s teens are particularly interested in fitness. “(Health influencers) are an increasing space because health and well-being is such a priority for the pivotal generation,” Mahdara said, using her term for today’s teens.
“These kids and teenagers are so intrigued and interested in their image, their fitness, their beauty,” Trend Pie’s Ricci said. “It’s all tied into one thing: The package they want to brand themselves and who they want to be.”