It is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and the NFL is doing its part to support the cause as the league has become saturated in pink (click here for numerous examples). However, off the field, it is a different story.
Many of the items seen on the field can also be purchased in the NFL’s online shop. But while the items on the field will be auctioned off with proceeds going to the American Cancer Society, it is less clear how much of the sales of pink gear in the NFL Shop go towards research.
According to the website, by purchasing pink items in the NFL Shop, fans can “support the fight against breast cancer with pink NFL breast cancer awareness gear.” Of course, there is a huge difference between supporting “awareness” and donating money to research. In the case of the former, most of the money ends up in the pockets of billionaire NFL owners.
When we contacted the NFL’s online shop for clarification, we were told 5% of the sales are being donated to the American Cancer Society. If the pink products have a typical 100% mark-up at retail, that means the NFL is keeping 90% of the profit from the sale of Breast Cancer Awareness gear.
And then consider that only 70.8% of money the ACS receives goes towards research and cancer programs. So, for every $100 in sales of pink gear, only $3.54 is going towards research while the NFL is keeping approximately $45 (based on 100% mark-up) [Note: see update below].
Of course, awareness is a very important factor in the fight against breast cancer. But I am sure if you asked most people with cancer or those that have lost loved ones to the dreaded disease, they’d prefer a cure over more awareness.
In the meantime, the wallets of the NFL, which had $9.5 billion in revenue in 2011, just keep getting fatter.
[UPDATE] The NFL wanted to clarify their position. While they did not dispute the numbers above, a representative said the NFL does not profit from the sale of pink merchandise. Any money that is not donated to ACS is used to cover the costs of their breast cancer awareness program, A Crucial Catch. Also, the NFL says they have donated “more than $3 million” or approximately $1 million per year as a result of the program that began in 2009.
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