ASPEN, Colo. -- Shaun White is capable of doing things nobody else can come close to doing on a snowboard. He looks flashy when he does it, and he's humorous when he talks about it.
Corporations have no reason not to throw their support behind the "Flying Tomato," and even though a stable of sponsorships have made White a millionaire, he maintains there's potential for other athletes on Buttermilk Mountain to profit off Winter X Games fame.
Only 25, White, a two-time Olympic halfpipe champion and 11-time winner at Winter X, has turned into the marketing icon of the action-sports world. His quick climb to success opened the door, and with fans gravitating toward him because of a fondness for his red, flowing hair, he played off his style, and he wasn't shy in pushing across his wittiness.
White signed his first sponsorship deal at 7, and as he readies to compete in halfpipe and the new Olympic discipline of slopestyle at the 2014 Sochi Games, he counts big-money corporate pacts with BFGoodrich, Burton, Hewlett-Packard, Oakley, Target and Ubisoft. He recently inked a seven-figure endorsement with Stride gum, and in August, he scored an agreement with Vail Resorts in which he co-designed his own halfpipe at Lake Tahoe.
So White didn't fret when Los Angeles-based Creative Artists Agency, negotiating on his behalf since he dumped IMG agent Mark Ervin in 2010, couldn't renew his sponsorship with Red Bull. The three-year deal was reportedly worth more than $1 million annually, but White's team thinks his next pact with a beverage company will fetch three times as much. Coca-Cola is targeted, as is Pepsi for its Mountain Dew or Gatorade brands.
"I was the kid back in that day that got that help from Burton and Target, then became what I am now," said White, who had the highest rating in a 2011 Nielsen study of the most effective endorsers among male athletes who weren't retired at the time of the poll -- ahead of Shaquille O'Neal, Apolo Anton Ohno, Peyton Manning and Michael Phelps.
Simply by heading down his current track, White continues to see his stock soar. He has 1.8 million fans on Facebook and 756,900 followers on Twitter, and almost any video of him on YouTube is an instant hit -- a 2-minute clip of the private halfpipe that Red Bull built for him to use for Olympic training in Silverton has been viewed 3.1 million times.
Nielsen research shows that 29.4 million people watched an NBC broadcast that featured White and Lindsey Vonn capturing golds at the 2010 Vancouver Games -- a higher following than the gold-medal hockey game between the U.S. and Canada and just below the opening ceremony. Still, White doesn't have a monopoly, as Nike, The North Face, Toyota and Visa have spent their advertising dollars elsewhere, with mixed results.
Some corporate heads insist, "This is how it's going to be," White said, adding that others ask, "Do you need training or access to facilities? What do you need to learn more? What support can we give you?" Largely, "at the heart of these big, big corporations," he said, "there are very real people. ... They don't want to be the company that jumps in and buys the main guy. They want to grow with someone, in that sense, and support that kid."