No one has ever made a million dollars as a lacrosse player before, but Johns Hopkins alum Paul Rabil is well on his way to netting that (and more!). Once considered a niche activity of interest only to rich prepsters in Mid-Atlantic states (43% of lacrosse players come from families earning over $100,000), lacrosse is on the verge of becoming our newest national sport. In 2012, 1.5 million people played lacrosse in the U.S. — a 37 percent jump since 2008, making it the fastest-growing team sport in the nation. Meanwhile, participation in perennial pastimes like baseball and tackle football dropped 13 and 18 percent, respectively. And savvy players like Rabil are cashing in on this new popularity.
According to Bloomberg News, Rabil, who is 27 and plays for the Boston Cannons of Major League Lacrosse and the Philadelphia Wings of the indoor National Lacrosse League, has numerous corporate sponsors: Red Bull, New Balance, Nooka watches, Snap Fitness, Polk Audio, and EFX performance bracelets. Ira Rainess, Rabil’s Baltimore-based agent, claims that the combined revenues will total “a couple of million dollars” over the next few years.
Rabil credits his Johns Hopkins classmates, many of whom are now on Wall Street, with helping him build his portfolio and his brand. (Although the fact that he majored in political science and minored in entrepreneurship and marketing sure can’t hurt. Nor can the fact that, as the New York Times wrote in 2010, he has “shaggy, dark hair, cast-iron jaw and brooding eyes.”) He works hard to keep his social media presence up — he’s got nearly 100,000 followers on Facebook and Twitter combined; his goal is to quintuple that figure. And as ESPN and the CBS Sports Network continue to air Major League Lacrosse games, Rabil — who lives in Canton, one block from Michael Phelps — will only become more famous.