Yao's future path leads through vineyard
Updated: 2011-11-24 08:00
By Shi Jing (China Daily)
On Tuesday, a worker at an auction to be held next week by Special Olympics East Asia displays a bottle of wine that was produced by Yao Ming's wine company. Shao Jianping / for China Daily
Auction to put basketball star's wine, designer shoe up for bid
SHANGHAI - Having retired from professional basketball in July, the Chinese sports star Yao Ming has been eagerly looking for new fruits to pluck.
That search has resulted in Yao Ming Wine, which will make its debut this Sunday night at an auction held by Special Olympics East Asia, which organizes sports competitions for the intellectually disabled.
Yao's new Napa Valley wine company, Yao Family Wines, has released its inaugural wine under the name "Yao Ming: a 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon".
It comes in a magnum bottle - meaning it can hold 1.5 liters of wine - costs 3,800 yuan ($596) a pop and is extremely rare. None of the 1,200 bottles in existence will be sold on the open market.
Also sold at the auction will be a shoe made especially for Yao by the well-known shoemaker Paolo Scafora.
Both items will be sold at an initial price of 60,000 yuan.
Meanwhile, the Italian fashion brand Paul & Shark has made a multi-purpose garment - the iShark Jacket - specifically for Yao, a former center for the Houston Rockets. Officially, the garment will have a market price of 11,900 yuan, but it will be sold at first for 10,000 yuan.
Jiang Decheng, a Zhejiang province man who has been a fan of Yao's for about 10 years, said he is worried that the superstar has gone too deep into business.
"I am afraid that this will slightly lower his public standing," said Jiang.
In contrast, Yu Dawei, a Shanghai resident, said there is nothing unusual about a star trying to succeed in businesses.
"I can totally understand," Yu said. "Losing that astronomically huge contract with the National Basketball Association meant a big economic loss for Yao."
Ma Guoli, chief executive officer of the China branch of Infront Sports and Media AG, a sports-marketing company, said not every athlete can do what Yao has achieved.
"He did this because he is one of the biggest sports stars in the world," Ma said. "He is running a basketball team now, going to a university to further broaden his horizons and is also devoted to charity.
"Although some other sports stars have explored new lines of work after retirement, Yao is one of the few who can do everything so brilliantly. And everyone has his own ambitions."
Yao announced on July 20 his intent to retire from playing professional basketball. Several months later, he enrolled as a college freshman at Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Antai economics and management college.
(China Daily 11/24/2011 page3)