By Justin Champion
Jul 14, 2011
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Even though I’m not a Yankee’s fan, I can respect Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit last Saturday against the Tampa Bay Ray. What’s even better–it was a home run! However, the story afterwards, regarding the fan who caught the ball, Christian Lopez, is catching a lot of attention as well.
Lopez willingly gave the ball back to the Yankees short stop, Jeter. As you can imagine they rewarded him for his efforts: 3 autographed bats, 3 autographed baseballs, 2 autographed Jeter jerseys, and box seats for the rest of the season and post season. Not too shabby. Lopez’s reward package ball parked around $60,000-70,000. But what he did not expect was the estimated $14,000 in taxes that would follow.
Curious to learn more about the story, I went to Google. Here’s what I found.
It seems that Lopez’s story is catching more attention than Jeter’s entry into the 3,000 club.
Now, what have we learned from real-time news? Word travels fast–very fast! And it can crush your image if you’re not careful. So when news breaks on how a Yankee’s fan who owes over $100,000 in student loans gave Jeter’s 3,000th home run ball back and earned a $14,000 issue with the IRS in return, you could imagine the uproar. People don’t see that the Yankees gave Lopez a care package for giving the ball back, they see the “guy who returned Jeter’s 3000th hit ball may owe $14000 in taxes.” Also, not to mention, the ball’s worth is around $250,000-400,000.
Before anymore negative stories could spread on this issue, the Yankee’s respond.
Modell’s Sporting Goods Inc, one of the NY Yankees’ chief sponsors, will donate 5% of its Yankees merchandise sales from yesterday through July 19th to Lopez. Also, Modell’s and Steiner Sports Marketing Inc each guaranteed $25,000 towards the elimination of Lopez’s debts. So not only is Lopez getting help with the tax fees, but also with his student loans. Nice addition.
This is just the beginning of the shower of gifts this young 23-year-old will see. Other companies such as Miller High Life and Topps sports cards are cashing in as well by sponsoring the selfless fan. He’s going to have his own baseball card!
This is a great example of a real-time damage control success story done right. Not only did the Yankees respond rather quickly, but also are going above and beyond to take care one of their own. This will definitely help their image.
It goes to show you, if you act quick when news breaks, you can turn negative news into valuable marketing.