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.
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.
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
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
4. Tiger Woods, Golf
Endorsements: $60 million/year
Top brands: Nike, Kowa, Upper Deck, Hero Motor Group, Monster Energy, Rolex, Discovery Communications, Bridgestone, TaylorMade
5. Lebron James, Basketball - Los Angeles Lakers
Endorsements: $60 million/year
Top brands: Nike, Coca-Cola, Nike, Upper Deck, McDonald's, Samsung, Microsoft
6. Cristiano Ronaldo, Soccer - Juventus
Endorsements: $45 million/year
Top brands: Nike, Herbalife, Jacob & Co., Toyota, KFC, Tag Heuer, Samsung, Konami, Unilever, MTG, DAZN, Altice
7. Stephen Curry, Basketball - Golden State Warriors
Endorsements: $44 million/year
Top brands: Under Armour, Samsung Electronics, Coca-Cola, Kia Motors, Fanatics, Chase, Callaway Golf
8. Phil Mickelson, Golf
Endorsements: $40 million/year
Top brands: Rolex, Callaway Golf, Heineken, KPMG, Amgen, Intrepid Financial Partners
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
10. Naomi Osaka - Tennis
Endorsements: $34 million/year
Top brands: Yonex, Procter & Gamble, Mastercard, BodyArmor, All Nippon Airways, Nissan, Nike, Nissin Foods Holdings, Shiseido
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.