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How did a small ND bank land endorsement deal with Wentz? It's a family matter

WEST FARGO-- As Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz's popularity spreads nationwide, his endorsement power is skyrocketing just as quickly. Still, the man who grew up in Bismarck and played college football in Fargo is keeping a number o...

WEST FARGO- As Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz's popularity spreads nationwide, his endorsement power is skyrocketing just as quickly.

Still, the man who grew up in Bismarck and played college football in Fargo is keeping a number of endorsement deals in North Dakota.

Wentz has inked deals with Fargo-based Scheels, Jamestown-based RealTruck and Sanford Health, where the former North Dakota State University standout signed a five-year deal that includes personal appearances and ads for TV, social media, print and radio.

But one of Wentz's earliest deals this season was signed with BlackRidgeBANK, a relatively small bank headquartered in West Fargo.

Wentz's father, Doug Wentz, is a mortgage loan officer with the bank that has an office in Bismarck, their hometown.

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Doug Wentz had owned a mortgage company for about 15 years but took a job with BlackRidgeBANK as a mortgage loan officer last spring. Once Carson was looking at potential sponsorship deals, Doug offered to work something out between his son and his employer.

Those conversations led to a yearly reviewable endorsement deal. Bank officials wouldn't disclose how much they're paying the former Bison star.

So far, the deal has produced radio spots, tweets, photo sessions, a few recorded segments for commercials and signed authentic Eagles jerseys, which go to people who sign mortgages with the bank.

BlackRidgeBANK President Mark Anderson said the endorsement deal has surprised some. He said a colleague told him: "You guys just nailed the biggest winner anybody has ever done in this business by signing this guy."

"Sometimes luck is better than good," he said.

Wentz and BlackRidgeBANK agreed to the endorsement deal before he was the No. 2 NFL draft pick and released the news of the deal in August.

"We felt good about it going in," Anderson said. "We saw it as a long-term opportunity supporting Carson, but also looking at him given his moral character, values and faith that he represents a pretty quality spokesperson and representative of an organization."

Some things just transcend economics, Anderson said, and that includes the popularity of the highest-drafted player in North Dakota and FCS history. Anderson is projecting a 60 percent increase in mortgage applications from July to January compared to what was initially expected when the Wentz deal was signed.

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Also, while Bismarck regional branch president John Jessen said Doug Wentz was already a well-respected figure in the Bismarck financial community, it doesn't hurt to have a homegrown NFL quarterback's dad on the payroll.

"You would be silly not to think there certainly were benefits with the last name that comes with it," Jessen said.

Continued success by Wentz could open doors for big-name and big-money endorsement deals, but so far he's been lending his name to mostly local companies.

In a statement announcing his endorsement deal with Sanford, Wentz said his history with the regional health giant dated back to his Bismarck days through a man that now works for Sanford.

"Sanford has been there for me during my journey as a quarterback, and I truly appreciate the support over the years. I'm very honored to be partnering with the great people at Sanford - we intend to work together to give back and support the communities in our great region," he said in a release.

Though BlackRidgeBANK would like to negotiate a longer-term deal and would like to record more video segments with him, Anderson said their new spokesman is pretty busy right now.

Re-signing the budding NFL star in a year will be important for the bank, Jessen said. The nice part, Anderson said, is his dad is right in the building.

"I think it's definitely a neat thing we want to hold onto," he said.

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