Sport events must be strategically leveraged if desired participation outcomes are to be achieved. However, uncertainties remain over which event stakeholder/s should lead this process. In addition, there is a lack of theoretical explanation to support the findings from extant studies in this area. This study analyses how stakeholder salience influences event leverage for sport participation, focusing on a case study of an Australian state sport organisation (SSO) and two major sport events. Data were collected through 15 semi-structured interviews with the SSO’s employees and content analysis of over 60 organisational documents, websites, and media reports. Findings revealed that strategies for leverage were ineffective due to demands enforced by the national sport organisation, a highly salient stakeholder. This research provides new insight on the utility of sport governing bodies leading event leveraging strategies, highlighting the significance of stakeholder salience and strategic control systems in achieving desired outcomes.