BIPOC Voices, Sports

Naomi Osaka left IMG to start Evolve, her own agency

And she’s only 24.

words by: Sahar Khraibani
Oct 15, 2022

Naomi Osaka, who is already the highest-paid female athlete in the world, quit IMG, the sports and entertainment conglomerate, to launch a sports representation business with her longtime agent, Stuart Duguid.

 

In the past 16 months, Naomi Osaka’s tennis career has been in flux. Due to a series of self-imposed layoffs to manage her issues with mental health, motivation, and the occasional physical ailment, her accomplishments have been limited on the court. However, she has experienced incomparable success off the court, solidifying her position as one of the highest-paid athletes in the world as well as being the highest-paid female athlete.

 

While sitting out, she announced that she will be launching her very own representation agency in order to be more in control of her assets and business. Evolve is the name of the new agency that Osaka is working on with Duguid. The new agency’s first order of business is taking care of Osaka’s business interests, but will go on to offer representation for other athletes in the industry.

 

Osaka, at the ripe age of 24, earned around $60 million last year alone. The majority of these earnings comes from corporate sponsors. While Osaka’s main focus remains tennis championships, she is also interested in engaging with cultural and business pursuits when she is not competing in matches or training.

 

With the significant loss of a star like Naomi Osaka, IMG is definitely on shaky ground. However, the company will continue to earn money on behalf of Osaka, given that there are endorsements that have already been negotiated. But this is not the first time that athletes have left the representation agency, in fact, in recent years, both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer left to start different businesses of their own.

 

With Evolve, Osaka hopes to increase her business portfolio from its current size of about $50 million to $150 million yearly in the future. However, she does not want to increase the number of corporate logos on her tennis attire. Osaka may actually reduce the number of brands she endorses, according to Duguid. Evolve’s business model will follow that of agencies set up by LeBron James and other big influences on Osaka. It seems that this new move in the athlete’s career is geared towards her emancipation from corporate representation and instead taking charge of her own path.

 

Did you know that Osaka is crypto firm FTX’s global ambassador?

 

Photo via Getty