As of today, the newest member of the Gatorade family is the New Jersey Devils’ very own, Jack Hughes. If you’re unfamiliar with Hughes, he was the first overall pick in the 2019 draft, after turning 18 in May. He holds the all-time scoring record for the USNTDP, and he broke Alex Ovechkin’s scoring record at the U-18 World Championships. In just 13 NHL games, the highly touted prospect has managed to excite even the most skeptical Devils fans, with 3 goals and 4 assists.
Joining the class of Sidney Crosby and Patrick Kane, Hughes hopes to be one of the elite athletes representing Gatorade for a long time to come. For Gatorade, this deal was a no-brainer; staying ahead of the competition by contracting the best young athletes. As Head of Global Marketing for Gatorade said, “…the deal is not unlike some of the partnerships we have, like a Mallory Pugh, Christian Pulisic, a Jayson Tatum, a Zion Williamson, Todd Gurley, Bryce Harper… All of whom we signed very early in their careers because we want to grow with them.”
That’s high praise from the leader in sports drinks if you ask me. In all seriousness, there are parallels to be drawn from Hughes and these athletes. When you consider the impact Hughes could have on American youth choosing to play hockey, it probably rivals that of Christian Pulisic’s impact on soccer.
The only potential negative is that the sponsorship could be seen as a distraction for a young player finding his game. For example, Cleveland Browns’ quarterback Baker Mayfield constantly being on TV while the Browns struggle has certainly made his situation worse in Cleveland. However, I don’t see this kind of thing happening with Hughes, given the amount that New Jersey fans love Hughes’ content. After all, it’s not hard to find the marketability in a no. 1 overall American Sniper, with lettuce that makes even the trainer blush.