Florida sports fans are accustomed to seeing their favorite players endorsing footwear, sports equipment and other athletic gear. However, athlete endorsements can help all types of businesses. Recently, a highly-ranked tennis pro signed a lucrative endorsement deal with the Cheesecake Factory restaurant chain.

Agnieska Radwanska reportedly signed a six-figure deal with the Cheesecake Factory under which she will wear the company’s logo on a visor during her matches. The Polish has been ranked No. 3 in worldwide women’s tennis. The deal represents the first time the Cheesecake Factory has sponsored a spokesperson. The company does not pay for much advertising or traditional marketing.

It may sound odd for a top athlete to align herself with a major purveyor of fatty food, but the endorsement deal may have been a natural fit. Radwanska mentioned her love of the restaurant on social media at least twice in the two years before signing the endorsement deal. Two years ago, she wrote about trying almost every type of cheesecake on the menu at Cheesecake Factory restaurants across the country while playing in tournaments.

Reportedly, the deal began when one of Radwanska’s agents called the company to request that she receive VIP treatment at one of its restaurants so that she wouldn’t have to wait in long lines. Somehow that contact evolved into a business deal.

Of course even entirely genuine admiration doesn’t always make for the best result for the athlete. Endorsements, merchandising and licensing are big business, and negotiating contracts for these deals requires business skills and legal experience. A Florida attorney with experience in sports and entertainment law can help athletes to negotiate their way to endorsement deals that are lucrative for both sides and keep the athlete’s long-term goals in mind.

Source: Sports Business Journal, “Tweets lead to Cheesecake Factory endorsement,” Dennis Kaplan, March 3, 2014