When it comes to the business of sports, JB Bernstein is the go-to guy. The industry veteran has managed several high-profile clients through his firm, including Barry Bonds, Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith.
JB’s more than 25-year career is quite a story to tell, which is why it’s the inspiration for Disney’s May 16, 2014 release, Million Dollar Arm.
Prior to the founding of his sports agency, JB held positions with Grey Advertising, Upper Deck and Major League Soccer. However, no role could prepare him for his journey to find the “Million Dollar Arm.” JB set up a contest, based in India, with the goal of bringing Indian athletes to the United States as professional baseball players. Millions of people entered and as a result, two men – Dinesh Kumar Patel and Rinku Singh –signed contracts. JB, along with the rest of the world soon found that the contest was having an impact all over the world.
The film, which hits theatres spring 2014, stars ESPYS host Jon Hamm. Prior to the ESPYS, I was fortunate enough to sit down with JB himself and discuss the film, his relationship with ESPN and plans for the contest moving forward.
What’s it like seeing Million Dollar Arm blossom with such great success?
When you start a project like this, you never expect it to take off with such success as our project has. We’ve been able to touch the lives of millions of people across the world, which for me is the greatest reward here. ESPN and Disney have stepped in and are allowing us to touch even more lives across the world with the film and documentary, and we’re greatly appreciative of that.
What does ESPN, and more importantly the ESPYS mean to you as someone who’s witnessed the sports industry change over the last 25 years?
ESPN is sports, and the ESPYS are what the Grammys are to music, and the Oscars are to movies. There’s just no beating it. I’ve had the honor of working with ESPN on various films/documentaries on my clients in the past, and it’s an absolute honor to be working with ESPN yet again for this project.
How does it feel to have our ESPYS host Jon Hamm star in the film and portray you?
It’s been an out of body experience working with Jon, and he’s done a tremendous job. He’s a great talent, and an even greater guy, and it’s been an honor having him on board for the film.
What’s next for Million Dollar Arm?
The next contest begins in January and will be ending right around the time when the movie will be released, so it’s going to be a really exciting time for us. We’re hoping to continue to provide the men, women, and children in India with hope that they’ve never experienced, and spreading awareness of our project is really going to help out with that.