Report: Less than 10% of NFL Pink Merchandise Sales Go Toward Cancer Research

The NFL goes pink in October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month and tells consumers they can support the cause by purchasing pink merchandise. Little does the consumer know it would be better to just send a check to the American Cancer Society (ACS). Players are seen wearing pink shoes, gloves, wristbands. And game officials even threw pink flags this year all in support of "Breast Cancer Awareness."

Darren Rovell at ESPN found evidence that the NFL donates only a small percentage of proceeds to the ACS, and of the money ACS receives, only 71.2% goes to research and cancer programs.

From Business Insider:

In other words, for every $100 in pink merchandise sold, $12.50 goes to the NFL. Of that, $11.25 goes to the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the NFL keeps the rest. The remaining money is then divided up by the company that makes the merchandise (37.5%) and the company that sells the merchandise (50.0%), which is often the NFL and the individual teams.

Here is the chart from the Business Insider article, which shows that less than 10% of the pink merchandise sales actually go to cancer research once administrative costs are taken into consideration:

"The most popular place to purchase pink merchandise is at the NFL's online shop, official team stores, and at the stadiums. In these cases, the NFL and the individual teams are acting as the retailer," according to Business Insider. "It is unclear how much of the 50% markup for items being sold directly by the NFL and the teams is going to the ACS, if any at all."

This brings up a few questions. The NFL is very stingy about their uniform code, and they bend on the pink gear. Yet, when a player wants to bring awareness to another disease he is promptly fined and punished. Last Thursday, Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall wore green shoes to promote Mental Health Awareness Week. In 2010, Marshall was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Even though it is a worthy cause the NFL fined him $5,250, which he matched and donated to his charity for the disease. In total, Marshal was fined $10,500 even though he did not wear the shoes out of spite or for no reason. In fact, the NFL told Marshall they would not allow him ON the field if he showed up with his green shoes. Then they decided to "compromise" and only fine him. 


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