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The Top 10 Highest Endorsed Athletes And Their Brands

Posted by AJ Henry on May 3, 2021 at 10:13 AM

Sports Heroes Make A Lot of Money - And Create Major Brand Ad Platforms

Let’s be real. There is a ton of money in sports. Athletes these days are making more money than many of the world’s longest-standing business executives. In addition to the money, athletes are branding goldmines. Some of the biggest brands in the world are standing in line to throw money at athletes in exchange for promotional commitments. 

Have you ever wondered why someone like Lebron James only wears Nikes and how much he gets paid to wear them? Or, how much Rolex had to pay Roger Federer to tell the world that there’s no better watch for a man than a Rolex? In this blog, Hollywood Branded explores why brands choose to partner with athletes, the top 10 highest endorsed athletes in 2021, and the brands that pay them.

10 Highest Endorsed Athletes

Sports Bring Us Together

Sports are one of the world’s favorite pastimes. Sports doesn’t discriminate on the basis of color, where someone's from or how much money they make. It’s one of the few things in today’s world that allows two people from completely different backgrounds to come together and share times of both happiness and sadness together.

So, who makes this all possible? Well, it’s the athletes. The same athletes who have worked for their entire lives to bring us the sports drama that we as fans fall so deeply in love with. Brands realize how much sports fans love their sports heroes and are willing to put up a lot of money to get their brand in front of those cheering fans. Especially those that have a wide base of appeal - beyond their local cities.

Below are the top highest endorsed athletes as reported by Forbes.

Celebrity invite to brand event ebook

Who's Getting Paid The Most?

The highest-paid athletes currently are:

1. Maria Sharapova, Tennis

Endorsements: $297 million during her entire career  

Top Brands: Nike, Motorola, Colgate-Palmolive, Tag Heuer, Land Rover, PepsiCo, Evian, Head, Porsche

Maria Sharapova x Porshce

2. Derrick Rose, Basketball - New York Knicks

Endorsements: $185 million over 14 years 

Top Brands: Adidas 


3. Roger Federer, Tennis

Endorsements: $100 million/year

Top brands: Rolex, Mercedes Benz, Uniqlo, Wilson, Mercedes-Benz, Jura, Lindt Chocolate, Credit Suisse, Sunrise, Net Jets, Moet & Chandon, Gilette, Procter & Gamble

Roger Federer Rolex

4. Tiger Woods, Golf

Endorsements: $60 million/year

Top brands: Nike, Kowa, Upper Deck, Hero Motor Group, Monster Energy, Rolex, Discovery Communications, Bridgestone, TaylorMadeTiger Woods

Hot In Hollywood Hollywood Branded eNewsletter

5. Lebron James, Basketball - Los Angeles Lakers

Endorsements: $60 million/year

Top brands: Nike, Coca-Cola, Nike, Upper Deck, McDonald's, Samsung, Microsoft

 Lebron James Coca Cola

6. Cristiano Ronaldo, Soccer - Juventus

Endorsements: $45 million/year

Top brands: Nike, Herbalife, Jacob & Co., Toyota, KFC, Tag Heuer, Samsung, Konami, Unilever, MTG, DAZN, AlticeHerbalife

7. Stephen Curry, Basketball - Golden State Warriors

Endorsements: $44 million/year

Top brands: Under Armour, Samsung Electronics, Coca-Cola, Kia Motors, Fanatics, Chase, Callaway GolfSteph Curry x Under Armour

8. Phil Mickelson, Golf

Endorsements: $40 million/year

Top brands: Rolex, Callaway Golf, Heineken, KPMG, Amgen, Intrepid Financial Partners

 Phil Mickelson Barclays

New call-to-action

9. Kevin Durant, Basketball - Golden State Warriors

Endorsements: $35 million/year

Top brands: Nike, Sonica, Sparkling Ice, Nike, EA Sports, Gatorade, Panini America, Sprint, Degree Men

Kevin Durant Sonic

10. Naomi Osaka - Tennis 

Endorsements: $34 million/year

Top brands: Yonex, Procter & Gamble, Mastercard, BodyArmor, All Nippon Airways, Nissan, Nike, Nissin Foods Holdings, Shiseido

Naomi Osaka x Louis Vuitton

Note: This blog post has been updated as of May 3, 2021.

Brand Endorsement Deals Higher Than Paychecks

This may sound surprising to some but several of these athletes make more money through their endorsements than they do from their salaries. This especially true for the golfers and tennis players who don’t earn a salary and only make money through their actual sport by winning tournaments. This goes to show just how valuable an athlete's personal brand is. Their sport is just the vehicle that drove them to become these money-making branding machines. 

For small to medium-sized brands, getting an athlete to promote your brand may be difficult due to the costs associated. However, that’s not to say that these brands can’t get their product, message, or service intertwined in the world of sports. There are plenty of other ways to do this without having to shell out tens of millions of dollars. In fact, here at Hollywood branded, we can help you with that.

Here are a few blogs are team has written which walk you through a variety of celebrity partnership options.

Interested in working with celebrities as part of your brand campaign, and want to know if the money you spend will actually lead to sales?  Check out this video that highlights a variety of celebrities who have had endorsement deals, and the sales results for their brand partners.

Celebrity Endorsement Deal Case Studies That Made Sales Happen Video


Topics: Celebrity Initiative, Sports Marketing, Celebrity Endorsements