Detroit Lions Legend Barry Sanders Joins Forces With BetMGM Sportsbook

Posted By Matt Schoch on February 4, 2021

BetMGM landed one of the biggest names in Michigan sports history, as Detroit Lions legend Barry Sanders signed on as a celebrity brand ambassador.

Sanders, the NFL Hall of Fame running back, was on hand last March for the first week of sports betting in Michigan, placing the first bet ever at FanDuel Sportsbook at MotorCity Casino in downtown Detroit.

Right down the road, MotorCity competitor MGM Grand Detroit is the busiest casino in Michigan though. In a sign of the intense sports betting competition in Michigan, Sanders switched teams and signed on with BetMGM.

The brand has aligned with Hollywood megastar Jamie Foxx for its national face, but expect to see plenty of No. 20 here in Michigan. BetMGM was aggressive in pre-launch deals and marketing with hopes to join competitors like DraftKings and FanDuel in the upper-tier of Michigan sports betting operators.

More on the Barry Sanders, BetMGM deal

According to a release from MGM Resorts International, Sanders will star in BetMGM’s upcoming marketing campaigns and participate in a variety of events with BetMGM customers.

BetMGM Michigan was one of 10 sportsbooks to launch on Jan. 22, the first day of online sports betting in the Great Lakes State. The market is now at 11 sports betting operators, 10 online casinos, and one online poker site.

Sanders is one of the first former Michigan star athletes to sign such deals. Former Detroit Pistons star Richard Hamilton signed with PointsBet, and Red Wings legend Chris Chelios previously signed with BetMGM.

“I’m excited to be a part of the BetMGM team and hop on the ride of the fastest-growing sports betting app in the business,” said Sanders.

“Typically, I am the one breaking records in Michigan, but it is amazing to see what BetMGM already has accomplished in my home state.”

According to the release, Sanders also will engage with BetMGM players and MGM’s M life Rewards loyalty members through public and private events, both virtual and in-person. He also will appear in BetMGM social media content and make guest appearances on national radio and television programs for the brand.

BetMGM aligning with Lions, franchise icon

BetMGM was also the first sports betting partner with the Lions. No other operators have yet announced a deal with the NFL franchise.

Sanders was recently involved in the Lions offseason searches for general manager and head coaching positions, resulting in the hirings of Brad Holmes and Dan Campbell, respectively. Detroit will pick No. 7 in the NFL Draft after a 5-11 season.

The Heisman Trophy winner from Oklahoma State retired unexpectedly after 10 seasons as the NFL’s second all-time leading rusher. He’s since been passed by all-time leading rusher Emmitt Smith and Frank Gore and is now fourth.

Sanders, the 1997 NFL league MVP, was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2004.

“It’s an honor and surreal moment for all of us at BetMGM to team up with Barry Sanders,” said Matt Prevost, BetMGM chief revenue officer and University of Michigan graduate, in a release. “Adding Barry to the BetMGM family brings a new level of excitement and the potential for us to create unique experiences for our customers.”

Photo by AP Photo/John Discher
Matt Schoch Avatar
Written by
Matt Schoch

A Michigan native, Matt has worked at newspapers in Michigan, Missouri and the Virgin Islands. A versatile sports reporter, Matt has covered sailing on the Great Lakes, cricket in the Caribbean, high school and pro playoffs, and the Olympics in Rio. He's also the host of the Locked On Pistons Podcast and producer of a documentary on Emoni Bates. A former blackjack dealer, Matt has studied the industry from all sides.

View all posts by Matt Schoch
Privacy Policy