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Who were Super Bowl's big financial winners? Not the players.

Eli Manning may receive a bonus for taking the team to the Super Bowl and winning the MVP award. But other players aren’t likely to see much extra money.

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New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy while celebrating his team's 21-17 win over the New England Patriots in the NFL Super Bowl XLVI football game, Sunday, in Indianapolis.

David J. Phillip/AP

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The Super Bowl is not about the money – at least for the players.

None of those bulked-up linemen for the New York Giants, or the swift tight ends for the losing New England Patriots, will walk away from the Super Bowl with a lot more money in their pockets. That’s because most of the money from ticket sales and television rights goes not to individual players, but to the National Football League, which will distribute some of it to small-market teams or put it in the NFL’s own bank account.

“The league will make a pretty penny,” says Andrew Zimbalist, a professor at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., and noted sports economist. “But the teams do not have a direct financial incentive. In fact, the Super Bowl may cost more than the teams make.”

The Super Bowl differs from baseball’s World Series, where each winning player can receive as much as several hundred thousand dollars. But with Major League salaries running $3.2 million on average, the extra pay is “a significant amount but a small incentive in the scheme of things,” Mr. Zimbalist says.

Instead, most of the financial gain from the Super Bowl is indirect, Zimbalist and other sports-marketing commentators say. Star players who have a good Super Bowl may be able to ask for more money. Some with higher visibility will suddenly appear in TV ads. Also, the winning team usually increases ticket prices, and it may entice more companies to sign contracts for luxury boxes.

According to the Indianapolis Business Journal, the ticket and concessions revenue from Sunday’s game were projected to be $72 million. Advertising was far more lucrative, with potential revenue of more than $220 million for NBC. A 30-second spot amounted to $3.5 million, and the game had 63 spots.

Probably, the player who stands to benefit the most from a financial perspective is Eli Manning, the Giants quarterback who was named most valuable player. He may well have a clause in his contract for a bonus for taking the team to the Super Bowl and winning the MVP award. Perhaps even more important, his endorsement prospects may be improved.

“It comes down to likability and how much brands think they can make off the association with Manning,” says Ernie Capobianco, CEO of Sq1 Agency in Dallas. “In the case of Eli, people like him because he is the boy next door.”

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Yet Manning, who was MVP four years ago when the Giants also won the Super Bowl against the Patriots, already makes a lot of money on endorsements. According to Forbes, in 2011 his “brand” was worth $39.9 million, the highest of any professional football player. (No. 1 among athletes overall was Tiger Woods, whose brand was worth $105 million in 2011, Forbes said.)

Manning endorses a diverse group of products ranging from Oreo cookies, DirecTV, Reebok, Citizen Watch, and Toyota of New Jersey.

In terms of endorsements, Eli is competing against his brother Peyton, the quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts. Peyton earned $15 million in endorsements in 2011, despite being injured all season, Mr. Capobianco notes.

Eli is also competing against Tom Brady, the New England quarterback, who makes $10 million a year in endorsement fees. Brady, who has won MVP twice, is endorsing such products as Under Armour, Uggs, Audi, and Stetson cologne.

“Eli comes across as more approachable than Brady,” says Capobianco. “Brady comes across as aloof, not a man of the people.”

Giants wide receiver Mario Manningham, who made a spectacular catch that may have won the game for New York, may also benefit from the Super Bowl victory in a different way: He is a free agent after this season.

“He could get more money,” says Zimbalist.


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