Nearly A Quarter of U.S. Says They Are More Likely To Buy A Product Endorsed By An Athlete Involved in Prominent Sporting Events

South Orange, NJ, March 28, 2016 — Nearly a quarter of the US population is more likely to buy a product endorsed by an athlete involved in a prominent sporting event, according to the latest Seton Hall Sports Poll, conducted last week.

“People don’t consciously respond to what influences them by advertising, so this is a large number,” said Rick Gentile, director of the poll, which is sponsored by The Sharkey Institute.

22% of the 681 adults responding (by both landline and cellphone, across all states), acknowledged that the athlete endorsement matters, and while 71% said “no,” advertisers have long known that many people say no and mean yes. Indeed, the use of celebrity athletes as endorsers goes back to the 19th century, when Cap Anson, Al Spalding, Mike “King” Kelly and John L. Sullivan had their images appear on advertising.  (The poll’s margin of error is +/- 3.8%).


The poll playfully asked who among the Presidential contenders would have the best chance of leading a basketball team to a Final Four berth, and for this, Donald Trump’s 27% led the field, with Bernie Sanders garnering 17%, and Hillary Clinton 16%.  Trump had a wide advantage among male respondents (33%, with Clinton getting 11%) but among women they were virtually the same (he: 21%, she: 20%). The Trump support was consistent among all age groups, and there was little difference between people who closely follow sports or who don’t at all.

“Some of Trump’s campaign themes fit into the competitiveness of sports,” said Gentile, noting his fondness for declaring winners and losers.

The Final Four is the sports event most anticipated by the public at this time, with 39% citing it, with 29% citing baseball’s Opening Day, and 14% the Masters golf tournament.

And when asked which they are following more closely, only 20% cited the NCAA tournament, while 68% named either the Republican (44%) or Democratic (24%) primaries as most closely followed.

And despite all the talk of “filling out a bracket,” only 9% of the public says they are participating in polls involving money for this year’s NCAA tournament.


On questions of legalized sports gambling, the public overwhelming felt it should be decided at the state level (68% vs. 21% federally regulated), and 63% felt that betting on sports should be legal (vs. 29% opposed).

Rick Gentile was interviewed by Seth Everett for a podcast on the poll’s findings.  To stream :

To download :–sports-betting-presidential-candidates-march-madness

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One of the country’s leading Catholic universities, Seton Hall University has been a catalyst for leadership — developing students in mind, heart and spirit — since 1856. Home to nearly 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students and offering more than 90 academic programs, Seton Hall’s academic excellence has been singled out for distinction by The Princeton Review, U.S.News & World Report and Bloomberg Businessweek.

Seton Hall, which embraces students of all religions, prepares its graduates to be exemplary servant leaders and global citizens. Its attractive main campus is located in suburban South Orange, New Jersey, and is only 14 miles by train, bus or car from New York City, offering a wealth of employment, internship, cultural and entertainment opportunities. The university’s nationally recognized School of Law is prominently located in downtown Newark.

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About the poll:

This poll was conducted by telephone March 21-23 among 681 adults in the United States. The Seton Hall Sports Poll is conducted by the Sharkey Institute.

Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard landline and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus 3.6 percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The Seton Hall Sports Poll has been conducted regularly since 2006.

The results

1.  Which would you say you are following more closely, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, the Republican Presidential primaries or the Democratic Presidential primaries?

            1. NCAA Tournament                                    20%

            2. Republican primaries                      44

            3. Democratic primaries                      24

            4. Don’t know                                                12

2. Whom do you think make better role models, the student/athletes competing in the tournament, the coaches of the tournament or the politicians running for president?

            1. Student/athletes                              37

            2. Coaches                                           29

            3. Politicians                                       21

            4. Don’t know                                                13

3.  Which Presidential contender do you think would have the best chance of leading a basketball team to the Final Four, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz or John Kasich?

            1. Clinton                                            16

            2. Trump                                             27

            3. Sanders                                           17

            4. Cruz                                                 11

            5. Kasich                                             14

            6. None                                               16

4.  Which coach of a number one seed in this year’s tournament do you think would make the best President, Kansas’ Bill Self, North Carolina’s Roy Williams, Virginia’s Tony Bennett or Oregon’s Dana Altman?

            1. Bill Self                                             9

            2. Roy Williams                                  19

            3. Tony Bennett                                 14

            4. Dana Altman                                   11

            5. Don’t know                                       47

5.  Are you participating in pools involving money for this year’s tournament?

            1. Yes                                                    9

            2. No                                                   91

6.  Do you think the publishing of point spreads encourages gambling in the tournament?

            1. Yes                                                  49

            2. No                                                   32

            3. Don’t know                                    20

7.  Do you think states should be free to decide whether to legalize betting on sporting events or should sports betting be regulated by the federal government?

            1. States decide                                   68

            2. Federally regulated                         21

            3. Don’t know                                       11

8.  Do you think sports betting should be legal?

            1. Yes                                                  63

            2. No                                                   29

            3. Don’t know                                      8

9.  Which upcoming sporting event are you most looking forward to, baseball’s opening day, college basketball’s Final Four or golf’s Masters Tournament?

            1. Opening Day                                  29

            2. Final Four                                       39

            3. The Masters                                   14

            4. Don’t Know                                     18

10. Collegiate athletes are not allowed to endorse products.  Do you think this is fair?

            1. Yes                                                  50

            2. No                                                   42

            3. Don’t know                                      9

11. Are you more likely to buy a product if it is endorsed by an athlete involved in a prominent sporting event?

            1. Yes                                                  22

            2. No                                                   71

            3. Don’t know                                      7

12. How closely do you follow sports, very closely, closely, not closely, or not at all?

            1. Very closely                                    18

            2. Closely                                            35

            3. Not closely                                     34

            4. Not at all                                         14

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