NBA star James Harden expressed astonishment after Chinese fans rapidly purchased 10,000 bottles of his own-branded wine, showcasing the immense influence of livestreaming in a nation where basketball enjoys widespread adoration.
During a livestream event hosted by online celebrity Crazy Brother Yang on Tuesday, the seasoned Philadelphia 76ers guard promoted his J-Harden brand wine, attracting an audience of 15 million viewers, as reported by the state-run tabloid Global Times.
“How many bottles do you usually sell in a day … from one store?” Yang inquired, to which Harden responded, “A few cases.”
Yang then challenged Harden to witness the rapid sales. “Show me,” Harden replied, leaning back with his arms crossed.
“Ready? Go!” Yang exclaimed to the viewers. Just 14 seconds later, he declared, “Stop!”
With 5,000 orders placed at $60 for two bottles, according to Global Times, the swift sales generated $300,000.
“No way!” Harden exclaimed as he glanced at a computer monitor before breaking into laughter and applause.
Livestream shopping has surged in popularity in China, evolving into a multibillion-dollar industry that combines entertainment and e-commerce. Hosts offer viewers flash deals or discount coupons in real time, allowing viewers to instantly purchase goods from streamers and send virtual “gifts” to their favorite stars.
Harden’s livestream quickly trended on Chinese social media, with some fans humorously suggesting he should consider playing in China rather than the NBA to capitalize on his fan base there.
Basketball enjoys immense popularity in China, partly due to the NBA Hall of Famer Yao Ming’s legendary career. The league’s deep-rooted history and extensive efforts, including building courts and organizing preseason games, have contributed to its popularity among hundreds of millions of Chinese fans.
This popularity has translated into lucrative sponsorship deals for the league and its star players, contributing significantly to the league’s revenue. However, doing business in China also comes with risks, as the NBA experienced in 2019 when it became entangled in political controversy over a tweet expressing support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests.
Harden, who was part of the Houston Rockets at the time, issued an apology for the controversy and expressed love for China. Nonetheless, he recently criticized former Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, now president of the 76ers, during an event in China.