The CEO of Bleacher Report explains which athletes make the most money, and why

Steph curry and wifeGetty / Ezra ShawSteph Curry and his wife, Ayesha Curry

Human drama is one of the most compelling aspects of sports.

Pure athletic achievement is fun to watch, but the story lines make it interesting, and provide the bedrock for much sports coverage.

Bleacher Report CEO Dave Finocchio says this is a big reason why his publication began covering things like the the NFL draft, the NBA free-agency window, and the NBA trade deadline. These events were chock full of drama, even if no one was playing.

Now, the athletes themselves are getting on board with that idea.

Finocchio says there has been a shift more generally for athletes to open up their lives to fans, pushing the intimacy boundaries further and further.

“I think that there’s certain sports where it’s definitely happening faster than others,” he tells Business Insider. “I think the NBA, for example, is a league where a lot of the athletes view themselves as entertainers or half-athletes, half-entertainers.”

Some leagues, like Major League Baseball, are different, he says. “It’s pretty amazing though, if you look at what Russell Westbrook is doing to build his brand versus what you know Isiah Thomas would have done in the 1980s.”

The reason is simple: if you are a celebrity, you get the big bucks.

“[Westbrook gives a] 360-view of his life, and it’s a very carefully crafted image. And I think that the guys who do that make so much more money,” Finocchio continues.

Finocchio also thinks apps like Snapchat have made it easier for athletes to open up their lives. They are in control of the camera, and the process of broadcasting to fans is similar to what they would just do in their normal lives.

Dave FinocchioDave FinocchioDave Finocchio

I find that a lot of [athletes] are so much more comfortable being themselves when they’re talking into a mobile phone, or they’re interacting with somebody who’s getting them to stay stuff on Snapchat, versus sitting down on a set,” he says. “That feels very formal. It feels like if they say the wrong thing, it could blow up in their face.”
But Finocchio says that you shouldn’t expect everything these athletes are broadcasting to be the unvarnished truth.

“I think you will see more and more guys kind of open up about their private lives,” he says.

“Whether that’s really their private life or not, I think they will project an image around their private life to let people kind of feel closer to them. Steph Curry and his wife … have built this massive massive brand where she, in the last [year], has become a celebrity in the United States. And I’m sure she in her own right will end up making a ton of ton of money because of that.”

Ayesha Curry has her own cookbook, meal-kit delivery service, and will have her own cooking show on the Food Network.

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