Zion’s list of partnerships continues to grow as the 2019 number one overall pick agreed to an exclusive deal with Panini America.
“I’m truly excited to be a member of the Panini family, a company that continues to raise the bar in terms of content and creativity in the trading card arena,” Williamson announced. “I look forward to working closely with the team there to create basketball cards that my fans and card collectors will want not just throughout my rookie season in the NBA but throughout my entire career.”
Zion’s continued growth as a business enterprise has already seen him trademark “Let’s Dance” in addition to his record-breaking deal with Nike’s Jordan Brand that includes $75 million in guaranteed money over five years.
“Williamson’s first Panini NBA card was released on NBA Draft Night when he was selected first overall by the New Orleans Pelicans and released in real-time on Panini’s Instant trading card platform,” Panini announced.
Williamson’s card shattered the previous record of an individual player trading card sold via Panini Instant across all sports (NBA, NFL, FIFA, NASCAR). Panini’s Instant trading card platform is designed to celebrate real-time performances and milestones by making an individual player’s trading card from that moment available in real-time and for 24 hours on www.paniniamerica.net or the Panini Direct app and will chronicle Zion’s entire rookie season in the NBA.
The partnership will establish Panini as the exclusive producer of licensed college, NBA and autograph trading cards featuring the No. 1 overall pick. Zion’s first officially licensed autograph trading cards will appear in Panini America’s 2019 Contenders Draft Picks Basketball releasing in early September, and his first officially licensed NBA autographs will release in October with the arrival of the iconic 2019-20 NBA Hoops Basketball product and will continue to appear in Panini’s 25 additional NBA trading card products released throughout the season.
Zion continues to prove his national viability in one of the NBA’s smaller markets. In addition to his growing number of sponsors, Zion’s presence helped the Pelicans earn just their third Christmas Day game in franchise history and their first since 2015.
The Pelicans are also expected to visit the the NBA Champion Toronto Raptors on opening night (October 22nd). The nationally televised event may be moved to New Orleans, depending upon Elton John’s schedule.
Regardless, the Pelicans earned the national spotlight on two of the league’s biggest days thanks in part to a player who has yet to play a single minute in the Association — beyond the nine exhibition minutes at the 2019 Las Vegas Summer League.
David Griffin has been adamant that the Pelicans intend to play the long game with Zion and has been vocal about the team’s ceiling with Jrue Holiday as its leader.
But if brand names like Nike, Panini and the NBA’s schedule makers’ movements give any indication, Zion Williamson will be a star sooner than even the Pelicans may realize.