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How much of NFL pink funds go to breast cancer research?

Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III wears pink cleats and an arm band during October for breast cancer awareness. (AP Photo/Tim Sharp)

WASHINGTON – The National Football League is awash in pink this month for breast cancer awareness, but a new ESPN report is criticizing the league, saying only a small amount of its proceeds on pink gear actually goes to breast cancer research.

On a $100 sweatshirt, the NFL donates $11.25 to the American Cancer Society and keeps $12.50, the report says.

The NFL takes a 25 percent royalty from the wholesale price of its pink products, which is half of the retail price, before the merchandiser is paid.

The report finds that after everyone gets their cut, about 8 percent of money consumers spend on pink NFL merchandise actually goes towards cancer research.

But the league is doing better than most says Daniel Borochoff with Charity consumer group Charity Watch.

There are many situations where it is more common to give only pennies on the dollar, he says.

Charity Watch rates how organizations spend donations since choosing a charity can sometimes be confusing to consumers.

“You have one group that gets an A plus, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and another group that gets an F, the Breast Cancer Relief Foundation. There are many breast cancer charities that do very little if anything to help women who are suffering from breast cancer. What they do a lot of is send out a lot of solicitations,” Borochoff says.

In the end, the NFL is a business, a brand, and consumers have to keep that in mind, Borochoff says — it’s a business not a charity.

David Strutton, marketing professor at University of North Texas, agrees the pink initiative has raised awareness, and sales.

“Obviously it’s a good thing because the NFL, which is nothing but a great business, would not have been doing it this many years consecutively,” Strutton says.

However the pink promotion has also helped to promote the NFL which has fallen under scrutiny for its players’ behavior and its approach to head injury prevention, Strutton says.

It has raised ample funds and has made people aware of the need for funding … so if they can soften or enhance the image of the league — I hate cliches — but it’s a win-win for both the anti-cancer folks and the NFL itself,” Strutton says.

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