Since Lionel Messi announced he was heading to MLS, the Argentine soccer star has turned just about everything he touches into gold. Inter Miami CF, currently ranked last in the MLS, just won the Leagues Cup and will play in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final against the Houston Dynamo at the end of September.
The recent success isn’t limited to the field. Messi is generating interest and revenue for the league in a number of ways, including boosting the ticket market for Miami’s matches, an explosion in social media followers and record MLS Season Pass viewership. The increased attention makes Inter Miami’s games more valuable to sponsors and partners of MLS teams, whether home or away.
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On Saturday, the soccer star will play against the New York Red Bulls in Harrison, N.J., Inter Miami’s only scheduled appearance in the tri-state area this year. But no matter who scores the most goals, the real winner may be the New Jersey Lottery.
Before the season started, NJ Lottery, a long-standing partner with the Red Bulls, worked to be selected as the presenting sponsor of the Aug. 26 match. Now, its title sponsorship night includes Messi and an expected sellout crowd at Red Bull Arena.
“We are used to the unexpected happening in a big way,” NJ Lottery executive director James A. Carey said in an email. “It’s lucky. It really is ‘anything can happen’ in Jersey.”
Through social media sweepstakes, the company gave away a handful of tickets to the sold-out game to lucky players and guests. “As always, the biggest winners are our players,” Carey said.
The NJ Lottery will not have a retailer on the stadium premises, but it will offer opportunities to win prizes and receive giveaways. NJ Lottery’s brand ambassador will deliver the game ball as part of their sponsorship agreement. The financial terms of the sponsorship agreement were not disclosed.
It will be the Red Bulls’ highest-grossing MLS gate in team history, driving four-to-five times the revenue of a typical home game. Red Bulls officials say that geographic representation of the ticket sales shows Messi’s impact on the sport, with purchases coming from nearly every county in New Jersey, every borough in New York City, and from 33 states and 10 countries.
“Because it’s where people gather to have a good time,” Carey said of their on going relation with New York Red Bulls and many major teams.
The next draw for the New Jersey Powerball is on Saturday, with an estimated jackpot of $345 million.
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