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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 2022, and the brands that pay them.
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.
The highest-paid athletes currently are:
Top Brands: Burger King, DraftKings, Dystopia Video Game, Roots of Fight, Proper No. Twelve, Reebok
Endorsements: $130 million/year
Top Brands: OrCam, Budweiser, Adidas, Pepsi, The World Health. Organization
Endorsements: $120 million/year
Top brands: HerbalLife, Armani, Clear Shampoo, Unilever, KFC, Shopee, Crunch Fitness
Endorsements: $107.5 million as of 2022
Top brands: Nike, Air Jordan
Endorsements: $96.5 million/year
Top brands: Nike, Coca-Cola, Nike, Upper Deck, McDonald's, Samsung, Microsoft
Endorsements: $95 million/year
Top brands: Puma, Nike, Red Bull, RePlay Jeans, Diesel Fragrances, Qatar Airways, DAZN, Triller
Endorsements: $90 million/year
Top brands: Nike, Uniqlo, Rolex
Endorsements: $82 million/year
Top brands: Tommy Hilfiger, Mercedes Benz, Gran Turismo Sport, Bell Helmets, MV Agusta Motorcycles, Monster Energy, IWC, Sony, Bose, Petronas
Endorsements: $76 million/year
Top brands: Under Armour, UGG, Tag Heuer, Intel Shields, Aston Martin, TAG Heuer
Endorsements: $75 million/year
Top brands: Nike, Coinbase, Alaska Airlines, Weedmaps, Gatorade, Sonic Drive-in, Beats Headphones
Note: This blog post has been updated as of January 24, 2022
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.
AJ graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in entrepreneurship. Following his four year stint in college, AJ went on to launch his own marketing agency whose focus was to help brands better engage with multicultural consumers. It was during this time that AJ’s love for marketing and working with brands really began to blossom. Although quite elusive, this lovely bearded man can be spotted in any country in the world at any point in time, having already visited over 25 countries by the ripe age of 22. When not jet setting to the next location, AJ can be found eating weird foods (most recently a scorpion in Thailand), watching Chelsea FC win the English Premier League or sitting down with a bucket of kale watching an overly cheesy romance film.