While renting real estate on pro sports team jerseys has been a bread-and-butter move for for a half-century or more in Europe, and for some lower-tier U.S. pro teams since the mid 2000s, the NBA didn’t get in on the hustle until 2017, launching a two-year test program that created paid logo opportunities on NBA uniforms, albeit limited to a diminutive corner on team jersey fronts.
Fast-forward to today and the NBA jersey patch program has evolved into a revenue mainstay, reportedly bringing in around $225 million a year across the league with some recent individual jersey logo deals clocking in at $20 million to $30 million a pop.
At its 2017 debut, the Utah Jazz logo patch was distinctive in that it was the only NBA jersey logo that sidestepped corporate sloganeering in favor of a philanthropic effort, the 5 For The Fight program that was aiming to raise $50 million to expand cancer research efforts. Utah customer experience giant Qualtrics was the company behind the program, donating its Jazz jersey logo sponsorship to the nonprofit 5 For The Fight, which itself was launched by Qualtrics the same year.
And, yes, it’s worth noting that Qualtrics co-founder Ryan Smith would go on to buy the Jazz just three years later in a blockbuster $1.7 billion deal that moved team ownership from a previous generation of highly successful Utah entrepreneurs and philanthropists, Larry and Gail Miller, to Ryan and his wife Ashley Smith, who are carving out their own dual-track reputations for business success and giving back.
On Tuesday, organizers behind 5 For The Fight’s crowdsource-like fundraising approach of inviting everyone to donate $5 to bolster and expand cancer-focused research announced the program had surpassed its goal of raising $50 million. And, even as the patch contract sunsetted at the end of the 2022-2023 NBA season, 5 For The Fight will continue in its partnership with the Jazz including a permanent presence at the Jazz’s Delta Center home arena.
“With the help of Utah Jazz fans, partners, and the community, 5 For The Fight has crossed the $50M mark,” said Mike Maughan, co-founder of 5 For The Fight, in a press release. “It was an ambitious goal we set at the time we announced the jersey patch. It has been amazing to see the entire community rally around the cause and get involved.
“5 For The Fight is excited about our continued partnership with the Utah Jazz to continue to raise money for cancer research alongside other generous partners, and hundreds of thousands of supporters across the world.”
Maughan said 5 For The Fight has garnered support from a wide range of local, national and global businesses as well as donations from hundreds of thousands of individuals. He also noted how Qualtrics works to ensure that every donation dollar has the greatest impact.
“Qualtrics covers all the overhead for 5 For The Fight so 100% of donations go directly toward cancer research,” Maughan said. “It is amazing to see over 200,000 individual donations to the cause with so many people, families, schools and companies going all in to support this amazing effort.”
The 5 For The Fight program, in partnership with the Utah Jazz, has hosted multiple specialty nights at Jazz home games as well as seven bell-ringing ceremonies, a new Delta Center tradition launched to mark end-of-treatment benchmarks for cancer survivors. At this year’s 2023 NBA All-Star weekend in Salt Lake City, a competition within the 2023 Ruffles All-Star Celebrity Game led to a $100,000 donation for the 5 For The Fight Cancer Research Internship program.
Since its launch in 2017, organizers report 5 For The Fight has been able to:
Provide funding to 17 cancer research centers.
Create positions for 32 cancer research fellows in the U.S. and in Europe.
Establish the 5 For The Fight Cancer Research Internship in partnership with Howard University to increase representation in medicine.
Create the 5 For The Fight Cancer Research Fellowship to help early-stage cancer researchers accelerate their cancer research.
Engage with more than 200,000 people from over 20 countries through 5K runs, golf classics and 5 For The Fight nights.
Establish the Dermot Costello Cancer Immunology Fellowship in conjunction with Breakthrough Cancer Research and Cork Cancer Care Centre in Ireland.
Even as the jersey patch retires, the 5 For The Fight fundraising effort continues. Aiding in its continued success will be a permanent, dedicated area in the Delta Center’s concourse, near the main entrance, which will feature a 5 For The Fight “All In Until Cancer Gives In” wall. Organizers say the wall was designed by VGS, the design studio behind Post Malone’s one-off Raising Cane’s restaurant activation in Midvale.
The Delta Center space enables fans to dedicate their donations to someone they know who is fighting cancer, take a photo, donate and enter to win exclusive Jazz memorabilia. In addition, Utah Jazz players have recorded a variety of supportive messages that fans can personalize and send digitally to loved ones who are in the fight against cancer.
“Our journey with 5 For The Fight over the past six years has been the most inspiring representation of how the Utah Jazz bring to life our core value of being community obsessed,” said Jim Olson, president of the Utah Jazz, in a press release. “We are excited for our partnership with 5 For The Fight to continue and take on a new presence inside our arena in multiple areas so we can continue to champion the cause and maintain constant top-of-mind-awareness among our fans.”
To learn more about 5 For the Fight, or make a donation, visit 5forthefight.org.