Saina’s smash-hit: Signs three-year deal worth Rs 40cr

Saina Nehwal can be said to have hit the very top league of brand endorsements after signing a three year-Rs 40 crore deal with sports management firm Rhiti Sports, making her the highest paid non-cricketer from the country.

With this deal, she becomes one of the world's best-earning badminton players. Chinese men's singles gold medallist Lin Dan is reported to earn about Rs 12.8 crore annually in net earnings, while Malaysian Lee Chong Wei's figure is Rs 8.7 crore approximately.

Rhiti Sports also manages Team India captain MS Dhoni, one of the biggest earners in endorsements around the world. They will now look after Nehwal's brand associations, corporate profile, patents and digital rights, images and all other commercial rights exclusively.

Nehwal, a bronze medallist at the London Games, is easily India's most recognised sportswoman and currently boasts of eight endorsements. After inking this brand new deal she has entered the top tier of sports earners in the country.

"I'm happy and looking forward to start a working relationship with Rhiti. With Rhiti's background and credibility, they know how to balance things and that is a big plus point," said the shuttler who is reported to have turned down Rs 1.5 crore-worth endorsements in the run-up to the Olympics to focus on her training. Her wise discretion means she's all set to pocket 10 times that amount now, having returned with a medal.

Vinod Dhawan, Vice President Badminton Association of India, helped link up the deal with the firm that has till date primarily managed cricketers.

It all fell into place - almost perfectly for Nehwal - after her three-year contract with Deccan Chronicle ended on September 1. "We gave DC time to renew the contract, but they couldn't get back to us in time with a workable deal, so we went ahead and signed up with Rhiti," Harvir Singh, Saina's father said. "We're very thrilled with the base amount, and it's an honour since she's the first non-cricket athlete they've taken on," he aded.

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