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Jeremy Lin signs endorsement deal with Volvo

Jeremy LinVolvoNew York KnicksBusinessBasketballVolvo Car Corp.Sports

Although the fervor surrounding Jeremy Lin has quieted in recent weeks, Volvo is betting Linsanity isn’t over.

The New York Knicks star has signed a global brand endorsement contract with the automaker that will focus on the U.S., China and Chinese-language markets in Asia, the company announced Monday.

Over the next two years, Lin will participate in the company’s corporate, advertising and marketing activities as a brand ambassador.

"You may not immediately see the connection between me and Volvo, but both of us are striving to be better and smarter at what we do, and to do it our own way,” Lin said at a news conference. “I hope that my efforts will inspire more young people to follow their ambitions in sports and education, just like Volvo Car Corp. is designing cars around people's ambitions in life."

It’s one of the first major endorsement deals for the 23-year-old, a former bench warmer who rose to instant superstardom after a string of blockbuster performances that helped the Knicks win seven straight games in February and launched a slew of Lin-related puns.

As Lin, a Harvard graduate who was cut from two teams before joining the Knicks, amassed countless fans around the world, many wondered whether the young star would capitalize on his newfound fame.

As my colleague Tiffany Hsu wrote last month, many firms weren’t sure what to do about the rising star: “Corporate marketers are intrigued by the Lin phenomenon, but many are hesitant to offer major deals, such as a line of athletic shoes, in case the New York Knicks point guard flames out early. After all, Nike Inc. and its ilk aren't accustomed to looking for their next big star in the esteemed halls of Harvard or among NBA bench warmers.”

Indeed, Linsanity has fizzled a bit in recent weeks, especially after the Knicks lost six games in a row and Lin appeared to be struggling after the return of Carmelo Anthony.  Since the resignation of Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni last week, the team has won its last three games.

But Volvo executives believe Lin will have staying power.

Freeman Shen, president of Volvo Cars China, called the deal “a significant moment in the history of Volvo Car Corp.'s brand rejuvenation.”

“For our region, Jeremy Lin is the pride of the whole Chinese population, and we are excited to work with him,” he said.

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