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Boardroom Q&A: Bryce Harper

MLB superstar Bryce Harper discusses his endorsement portfolio, his love for Formula 1, bringing an MLB team to his native Las Vegas, more.

Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper is the reigning National League MVP, his second career honor, a six-time All-Star, and in the fourth year of a record 13-year, $330 million contract.

Despite a small tear in his right UCL, Harper leads the NL with a .637 slugging percentage, while also third in the league in home runs (15) and fourth in RBIs (45).

Off the field, the 29-year-old slugger is in the midst of another blistering match-up. The MLB superstar is the face of Dairy Queen’s “All Star Summer” campaign spotlighting its Signature Stackburgers menu. Fans can vote between Harper’s FlameThrower burger β€” with jalapeΓ±o bacon and a Blizzard with cookie dough β€” or a meal curated by Chicago White Sox All-Star Tim Anderson.

In a conversation with Boardroom, Harper discussed his endorsement portfolio, his thoughts on bringing an MLB team to his native Las Vegas, and more.

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Shlomo Sprung: You have brand partnerships with Under Armour, Gatorade, Rawlings, and Topps, among others. How do you choose who you partner and align with?

Bryce Harper: If the brands are really super friendly and family-oriented with how they approach my career or my family, that’s who I want to be with.

Gatorade is such a family-oriented company. They’re so good with me and anything that I need. Under Armour is the same way. Blind Barber and Dairy Queen are so good and gracious with me as well. So I just try to align myself with those types of companies, and if they treat me right and I treat them good, it’s always such a better relationship and partnership.

It’s always fun to be able to pick and choose what I want to do. Baseball is, of course, the number one thing on my list. It’s my career, so they know that I’m going to pick baseball over anything else I do. If I can align myself with companies that understand and know that, then that’s huge.

SS: You have an exclusive autograph deal with Topps. How involved are you in the creative process in building what a card would look like?

BH: I’ve been with Topps for a long time, and they’ve always tried to come to me with ideas and opportunities. I think the big thing is that they always ask what I want on the card, what I want my action to be, or if I like this face over this face. It’s always pretty cool and always a good opportunity to work with them.

They’ve been in sports for so long. They’ve been in baseball cards for so long and are such a premier card dealer.

SS: Did you grow up collecting?

BH: I didn’t. I’m not the biggest collector with anything. But I might start doing it a little bit more since I have a son now. If I can get some cool stuff for him growing up and getting him some cool items, I think it’d be pretty cool for him.

SS: Is there a company that you want to get an endorsement or partnership deal with, but haven’t yet?

BH: Oh, man. If there was one, I’d probably say Ferrari just because I love F1. That would be crazy. [Laughs]

SS: Are you a Ferrari fan in Formula 1?

BH: I like [Charles] Leclerc.  I think he’s an incredible driver, and I think they’re racing unbelievably this year. [Daniel] Ricciardo, I just love his mentality and how he just has fun with it and goes out there and enjoys it. Then of course [Max] Verstappen and [Lewis] Hamilton. I love history and love being able to watch guys be great. So Lewis Hamilton, the way he’s been able to do it for so many years for such a long time, I just love when the top dogs win. I thought he did a great job last year [when]Verstappen came in and got him.

Verstappen is such a great driver, and Red Bull is such a great team to see the ins and outs and how they work. Max is going to be so good for so long, and it’s going to be fun to watch him and see how his career unfolds.

SS: When did you get into F1? Is there a big F1 following among fellow players?

BH: My brother and I were into it a little bit right before Drive To Survive, and then the show hit and it was like, ‘Bam! We’re watching this all the time.’

We watch it every Sunday whenever they have a race. … I just love being able to watch these guys go and it’s hard, man. It’s tough in any sport and any level, but to be able to control a car that way and drive that way and move that way, it’s pretty impressive.

SS: You have this contract from the Phillies. How have you invested your money and have you gone into any specific companies?

BH: Not too much as of right now. Those are things that I really want to still learn about and kind of see what I want to do and what avenues I want to go into β€” being able to sit back and see what’s working and what’s going on. When I do stuff, I want to do it the right way, but also in areas that I like. I don’t want to just put money into something and just be like, ‘Oh yeah, go ahead.’

I want to be invested in what I do. Whatever that is and whatever that brings me in the next 10, 15, 20 years, I want to start that as soon as possible but also understand that I want to be invested in things that I care about and actually like. Anything with health, land, or real estate. I love being part of what can make people better or their bodies better and how the body works and what you put into it. Those are all things I really enjoy, and that’s something I can hopefully put my mind into after I’m done playing with whatever avenues that brings forth.

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SS: Have you thought about team ownership?

BH: Not too much. I’ve thought about coaching, but not on the big league side. I love college baseball. I think a lot of college coaches aren’t very truthful with players and what they do. So I would love to be a part of [changing] that.

In the super regionals [of the College World Series], the team that stands out the most to me is Tennessee. Being able to watch a team like that, the camaraderie that they have, the love they have for each other and their coaches, they’re doing such a great job over there. I don’t think they care too much about anybody else or any teams around them. Those kids, you can tell, they love playing the game. They love being grinders, love going out there and doing their jobs each night. I would love to see them go and run the table all the way through the World Series.

I want to be around the young kids and try to be the best coach I can and tell them about the big league level, the minor league level and how it works. Chip Hale, he’s at the University of Arizona, and I played for him in D.C. β€” seeing him go about it and the way he works and his mindset. … It would be so much fun to go out there and do that and be there for the younger generation of baseball players and have some fun with that.

SS: You’re from Vegas. What do you think about them eventually having an MLB team?

BH: It would definitely have success, but I think it needs to be an expansion team. You see what the Golden Knights did and being a huge fan of the Golden Knights and hockey being our first team, they hit in their first year, hit in their second year. They’re still a great team year in and year out.

It’s a lot of fun to go back to Vegas and watch those games. I mean, it’s so Vegas, if you know what I mean. [Laughs] It’s like a show every time you go to a Vegas Golden Knights game β€” the pregame show all the way up into when they come out to the ice. It’s so electric and there’s so much passion in the fans in Vegas, and it’s so much fun to see.

So, I think it’s definitely gotta be an expansion team. I think they’d succeed. It’s a transient town, so there’s so many people that are coming in now from other places. There’s Chicago fans, San Diego fans, L.A. fans, Yankees fans. You name it, there’s fans everywhere there. So, I think you would have to really bring in an expansion team and have success that way.

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About The Author
Shlomo Sprung
Shlomo Sprung
Shlomo Sprung is a Senior Staff Writer at Boardroom. He has more than a decade of experience in journalism, with past work appearing in Forbes, MLB.com, Awful Announcing, and The Sporting News. He graduated from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2011, and his Twitter and Spotify addictions are well under control. Just ask him.