Ever wondered how much money a professional athlete earns? While their earnings on the field of play are generally driven by their performance, it’s sponsorship deals which fill the pocket of the world’s best athletes.
According to Opendorse, a company designed to match potential brand sponsors with athletes, the top 100 highest-paid athlete endorsers this year collected more than $924 million in sponsor deals.
With that in mind, who has the biggest athlete sponsorship deals in sport today?
10. Kei Nishikori – $30 million
Nishikori’s role as the top player in Japan helped him rack up a loaded endorsement deals portfolio that includes 16 sponsors, among them Uniqlo, Wilson, Nike, Procter & Gamble, Jaguar and Tag Heuer.
Nishikori fans can drive a Kei Jaguar edition or eat Nishikori noodles from Nissin or fly on Kei-branded planes from Japan Airlines.
The renewal of his apparel deal with Uniqlo starting in 2016 is worth eight figures annually.
9. Usain Bolt – $32 million
His biggest deal is with Puma, which pays Bolt more than $10 million annually.
Bolt is an investor and performer in the new annual Nitro Athletics track and field series that launched in 2017.
8. Kevin Durant – $34 million
Durant has a sizable endorsement haul with Nike, Beats, American Family Insurance, BBVA, Sparkling Ice, Panini and NBA 2K.
But he has embraced the startup ethos of his new locale with investments in the Player’s Tribune, Acorns, Postmates and JetSmarter.
Nike signed Durant to a 10-year extension in 2014 worth as much as $300 million
7. Rory McIlroy – $34 million
In at #7 on the biggest athlete sponsorship deals, it’s McIlroy, who continues to be a bankable marketing star as Nike signed McIlroy to a 10-year extension for apparel (Nike left the golf equipment business in 2016).
The Northern Irish golfer also inked a long-term deal with TaylorMade in 2017. Other endorsement deals include Omega and Upper Deck.
McIlroy replaced Tiger Woods as the face of Electronic Arts’ golf video game in 2015.
6. Cristiano Ronaldo – $35 million
Ronaldo recently inked a lifetime deal with Nike worth upward of $1 billion.
His native Portugal honored him by renaming an international airport after he led that country to a UEFA Euro title last summer.
During the 2016/17 season he led Real Madrid to La Liga title and back-to-back Champions League crowns.
His growing line of CR7 branded products now include shoes, underwear, fragrance, jeans and a line of hotels.
5. Steph Curry – $35 million
Curry had the NBA’s best-selling jersey each of the past two seasons. His off-court income has nearly tripled over the past 12 months. Curry signed endorsement deals with JPMorgan Chase, Brita, Vivo and PressPlay since the end of 2015.
His take from Under Armour lept thanks to a contract extension and the growth of the business.
4. Tiger Woods – $37 million
Formerly #1 on the list of biggest athlete sponsorship deals, but despite the exposure of his infedilities in 2009, sponsors still see value in partnering with Woods.
He added deals with TaylorMade, Bridgestone and Monster Energy over the past 12 months. Other current partners include Hero MotoCorp, Kowa, Full Swing and Upper Deck.
Woods has earned $1.4 billion since turning pro two decades ago with less than 10% of the total derived from prize money.
3. Phil Mickelson – $40 million
He also added a deal with Workday, which includes the logo of the human resources firm on Mickelson’s golf shirts during tournaments. Mickelson also pitches for Amgen, ExxonMobil, KPMG, Rolex, Grayhawk and the Greenbrier.
His deal with Amgen covers the psoriatic arthritis drug Enbrel (Mickelson was diagnosed with the disease in 2010).
2. LeBron James – $55 million
The NBA’s top pitchman added Intel and Verizon to his endorsement deals, which already included Nike, Coca-Cola, Beats by Dre and Kia Motor.
His lifetime deal with Nike could net him more than $1 billion.
James owns a production company, SpringHill Entertainment, with his business manager, Maverick Carter. The pair is also part of an investment group in Blaze Pizza with 17 franchises in Chicago and South Florida.
1. Roger Federer – $58 million +
At 36 Federer still has the biggest athlete sponsorship deals in sport. His latest pact is with pasta brand Barilla. The deal runs longer than five years and is expected to net Fed roughly $40 million. In July 2018 Federer signed a 10 year deal with Japanese brand Uniqlo worth a reported $300 million over 10 years! This replaced his long term deal with Nike.
Many of Federer’s sponsor relationships run a decade-plus. His partners include Nike, Wilson, Credit Suisse, Mercedes, Rolex, Lindt, Jura, Moet & Chandon, Sunrise and NetJets.
He raised more than $4M for charity through a pair of exhibitions in April in Zurich and Seattle with Seattle. His eponymous foundation has raised $40 million with $30 million donated to educational programs in Africa.
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