Tampa Bay Bucs tight end Rob Gronkowski is a high-profile athlete endorser of the CBDMEDIC brand. (Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for CBDMEDIC
CANNABIS

CBD is Already Making Athletes Rich—but it’s Only the Beginning

As cannabidiol’s popularity soars, athletes are taking advantage of not just its therapeutic benefits, but its burgeoning market.

Can you imagine the day you wait in line for the next limited-edition, athlete-branded CBD oils like you would have for pair of Jordans in the dead of winter?

Sounds crazy, but the sports industry is now about more than just buying your favorite jersey and going to a game. The expansion of brands, players, and investments have crept into every facet of society, from politics to pop culture. With CBD partnerships like Alex Morgan and Rob Gronkowski with CBDMEDIC, Brett Favre and Green Eagle, and Megan Rapinoe with Mendi, word is truly getting out that cannabis products present an opportunity to make athletes a ton of money.

The expansion of cannabidiol in sports means it won’t be long before your favorite player is promoting gummies, tinctures, teas, and topicals just like they would a signature sneaker or

A 2019 study by cannabis-focused market insights firm Brightfield Group projects that we’re still only at the beginning of a rising tide for health cannabis products.

“With hemp-derived CBD gaining in popularity — in line with health, wellness, and anti-pharma trends — and product availability and variety increasing, the market is on track to grow to $23.7 billion through 2023,” the study says.

While THC is not a possibility right now, athletes have widely praised oils, rollers, and vapes for their favorable healing properties. UFC fighters Nate and Nick Diaz were among the first athletes to go their own way in the CBD realm with their brand Game Up Nutrition, which offers an array of edibles, oils, and topicals.

The industry has been more accepted within high-contact sports like mixed martial arts and boxing or strength sports like bodybuilding, and weightlifting. Interestingly, the shift brings more popular sports figures within the NFL, boxing, golf, and tennis.

Traditional products are nice, but how about “Marijuana Resorts” and beverages? Earlier this year, NHL legend Mark Messier got into the potables game with NXT water, the maker of the Akeso CBD water brand. Mike Tyson is likewise among the current and former athletes showcasing how diverse CBD portfolios have become — a huge advocate for CBD, the former heavyweight champ operates Tyson Holistic Holdings (THH) and has dabbled in the CBD beverage industry with Dwiink.

More recently, Dr. Dabber, a vape pen brand, offered US track and field star Sha’Carri Richardson an endorsement deal for $250,000 after a positive marijuana test barred her from the Tokyo Summer Olympics, a further sign that entrenched stigma has given way to a willing embrace.

The adoption of CBD products and sponsorships is only the beginning of the cannabis wave within the US. Aside from the benefits millions of users report related to wellness and recovery, the CBD market is generating far too much money for the NFL, NBA, and other high-profile sports organizations to embrace them formally, just as they have with formerly controversial industries like sports betting.

The evolution of athlete-driven commerce and entrepreneurship across any and all sectors of the economy means it’s only a matter of time before you see the most popular athletes on earth pushing cannabis-derived products.

Picture it: LeBron-branded CBD Brownies (also known as “LeBrownies,” and yes, I just made that up) for recovery. A Cristiano Ronaldo CBD roll-on called “Association Footbalm” (yes, I just made that up as well).

Excuse the plays on words. But once we get to this sort of point in the trajectory of CBD in sports, we’ll know we’ve finally demolished the taboos and misconceptions that ranked somewhere between unproductive and harmful for far too many years.

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