Dhoni signs big endorsement deals

NEW DELHI: India’s cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni cemented his position as the world’s top earning player on Wednesday with another multi-million-dollar endorsement deal.

Dhoni, 29, inked a 6.5-million-dollar contract to be the face of Indian mobile phone company Maxx Mobile on Tuesday, four days after agreeing to a 5.7-million-dollar deal with Vijay Mallya’s United Breweries, officials said.

“Maxx believes in Dhoni’s potential, and the performance that he has delivered over the years is a testimony to his talent,” Maxx Group boss Ajay Agarwal was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India.

While the Maxx deal is spread over seven years, the contract for the United Breweries group — who own Kingfisher airlines — is for three years, reports said.

The two agreements are part of a record 42-million dollar marketing deal the popular Indian captain signed with sports management firm Rhiti in July.

Rhiti’s two-year deal gave it the right to handle Dhoni’s endorsements, merchandise, corporate profile, patents and digital rights, as well as visibility on social networking sites.

The deal, the richest in Indian cricket history, surpassed batting superstar Sachin Tendulkar’s 40-million-dollar contract with sports management firm Iconix.

Dhoni, once regarded as India’s most eligible bachelor, married hotel management student Sakshi Singh Rawat in July.

The flamboyant wicketkeeper-batsman reportedly endorses 24 leading brands, including Pepsi, Reebok, Aircel, Godrej and Hersheys.

A Forbes study last year on the world’s richest cricketers put him at the top with an annual earning of 10 million dollars, followed by Tendulkar at eight million dollars.

Under Dhoni, India became the top-ranked Test side last year and are now preparing for a major series against second-placed South Africa starting next week.

The three Tests in Centurion (December 16-20), Durban (Dec 26-30) and Cape Town (January 2-6) will be followed by a Twenty20 match and five one-day internationals.

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