ZTE signs Ronaldo to help drive European and US expansion

The world’s most followed athlete on social media, Cristiano Ronaldo, will use his reach to help Chinese telecommunications company ZTE grow its business outside of Asia.

The Real Madrid star has signed a one year deal, reportedly worth $4.47m, to become the face of ZTE’s Nubia brand of smartphone as it looks to expand into Europe, North America and Africa.

ZTE’s decision to sign Ronaldo as a global brand ambassador builds on its fast growing sports sponsorship portfolio which recently saw it become a primary partner of both Bundesliga side Borüssia Monchengladbach and Europa League champions Sevilla.

The Portuguese footballer has been active in growing his own sponsorship portfolio of late, with recent deals with trading firm XTrade, European multinational telecoms firm Altice and Israeli telecom firm HOT.

Ronaldo is understandably a huge draw for brands looking to tap into the popularity of his profile. His social media presence surpasses that of any other athlete in the world, according to social media tracking database Hookit.com. The 31 year-old has a combined total social media following on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter of 200,058,494, which is 80 million more than his Barcelona rival Messi.

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