Sports Marketing Pioneer JB Bernstein, Creator of The Million Dollar Arm Contest, to Speak at UMass Amherst

UMass Amherst alumnus is subject of upcoming Disney movie
JB Bernstein

AMHERST, Mass. – Sports marketing legend JB Bernstein, one of the creators of The Million Dollar Arm contest that led to the signing of the first professional baseball pitchers from India, will speak about his career and his system for creating his next big idea on Tuesday, March 4 at 4 p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

As chief marketing officer of Seven Figures Management, Bernstein created The Million Dollar Arm, a revolutionary reality TV show and talent search that drew 37,000 contestants. Bernstein’s story is now the subject of a Disney motion picture, starring Jon Hamm, due to be released in May.

Launched in 2007, The Million Dollar Arm culminated with the selection of two javelin throwers, Rinku Singh and Dinesh Kumar Patel, as the winner and first runner-up, respectively. The pair signed minor league contracts with the Pittsburgh Pirates in November 2008. Thirteen months later, Singh became the first native of India to win a game in professional baseball with the Pirates’ rookie-level team in the Gulf Coast League. While Patel has left baseball, the left-handed Singh is still with the Pirates organization and due at spring training camp next month.

As co-founder and president of the Access Group of Miami, Bernstein also represented some of the greatest athletes of all time including Barry Bonds, Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith, and created such groundbreaking programs as Wayne Gretzky’s 802nd Goal Program, Dan Marino’s All Time Touch Down Record and Emmitt Smith’s Run With History.

Bernstein started his career in brand management at Proctor & Gamble, and got his start in sports during the formation of The Upper Deck Company. As the director of development for the memorabilia division, he developed more than 250 products and is widely known as one of the godfathers of milestone marketing for his work on Wayne Gretzky’s 802nd Goal program and Dan Marino’s All Time Touch Down Record. His services were retained by Major League Soccer from 1995-97 to act as its head of licensing and to create the league’s and the players’ entire merchandise program. He secured more than 50 partners and reached levels of licensed goods sales in 1997 of nearly $50 million.

Bernstein received his bachelor’s degree in political science from UMass Amherst in 1990 and went on to earn an MBA from the London School of Economics.

This event is part of the UMass Amherst Alumni Association’s Eleanor Bateman Alumni Scholar in Residence program, which connects students with high-achieving alumni who exemplify the university’s mission through professional accomplishments and public service.  The program was established in 1989 through an endowment from the trustees of the University of Massachusetts Building Association, and was named after Eleanor Bateman ’23, a founding member.


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