By Chris Korman
11:00 AM EST, November 13, 2012
Laurel native Greg Merson won the World Series of Poker Main Event recently and did so wearing an Orioles jersey modified with patches advertising his sponsors.
This caused exactly no consternation on the part of the Orioles, which could come as a surprise for a team playing in an image-conscious league like Major League Baseball. It has yet to relent on its life-time ban of hits leader Pete Rose (who bet on his own team, of course).
But a little card game worth nearly $9 million, in which one guy happens to wear a baseball jersey (he paid for) with some logos for Best Bet Jacksonville, Ivey Poker and Draft Kings? Not a problem.
"Greg wearing an Orioles jersey was something we got a kick out of seeing, and we congratulate him on his win," wrote Greg Bader, recently promoted to vice president of communication and marketing. "I know many of us with the ballclub enjoyed seeing the Orioles colors displayed during the tournament. At no time were any concerns expressed about the advertisements on his jersey."
There was a question this summer over whether Baltimore-based swimmer Michael Phelps violated a controversial Olympic rule by appearing in Louis Vuitton ads before the games ended. Athletes were prevented by Rule 40 from working for -- or even acknowledging -- sponsors during the games who aren't also officially affiliated with the Olympics. That circumvents an entire economic system in which companies essentially pay for athletes to live and train for years in hopes of a resulting marketing boost when he or she reaches an international audience. And there is no bigger stage than the Olympics for runners and swimmers, many of whom have said they'll fight for change.
Phelps bemoaned having to wear Nike gear on the medal podium during an appearance at Under Armour headquarters earlier this year. As he joked about throwing the Swoosh-scarred gear into the harbor, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank was quick with a quip: "I don’t want you stinking up the harbor."
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