Business Insider’s Cork Gaines recently looked at this issue to see just how much the NFL is making off the pink-themed merchandise it sells.
It’s important to distinguish here between the pink gear worn by the players on the field, which is auctioned off, with the money going to the American Cancer Society, and the pink merch that is being sold in the NFL Shop.
Gaines points out that the latter are marketed as a way to “support the fight against breast cancer with pink NFL breast cancer awareness gear,” which may lead some to believe that by purchasing these items, they are making a donation to cancer research. In fact, only 5% of the sales of these items is going to the ACS.
And then consider that only 70.8% of money the ACS receives goes towards research and cancer programs. So, for every $100 in sales of pink gear, only $3.54 is going towards research while the NFL is keeping approximately $45 (based on 100% mark-up).
Obviously, the NFL has a right to make a profit on the merchandise it sells, but we couldn’t find any clear mention of the 5% on either www.nfl.com/pink or the pink store in the NFL Shop online. Gaines had to get confirmation on that number by contacting the NFL directly.
If the merchandise is solely about raising awareness, which could be argued is a sufficiently honorable goal in itself, then shouldn’t the NFL make it clearer to customers that only 5% of the sale price is going to the ACS? Because while some people might be happy that $1 of the $20 they pay for a pink knit cap is going to the researchers, others might just want to give that $20 straight to the ACS.