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12 Athletes With The Most Lucrative Endorsement Deals In Sports History

Renowned athletes are good at what they do and they make a lot of money from their chosen sports. And, with sports endorsements, these athletes can double or triple the amount they earn in their respective teams.

Our athletes here are known with big-name brands around the world and they have helped big organizations to market their products. Such endorsements come in the form of social media advertising or wearing of brand names during matches. Business organizations that run these endorsements tend to pay the athletes a huge amount of money for the services. Even at retirement, some athletes still receive payment for endorsements.

12. Steph Curry

stephen curry

Endorsement: Under Armour

Value: $4 million

Steph Curry is known for his accurate shots. He plays for the Warriors and people say he ranks high in the league of best basketball shooters. At Davidson, where he was recruited at a time, he was not drafted into the team because the people there failed to see his amazing potential. And, this disappointment changed dramatically. Just recently, Curry rose to become the Most Valuable Player in the NBA.

Curry got many endorsements because of this feat. He got a $4 million endorsement with Under Armour, a sporting goods company. The endorsement runs through 2024 and he will be receiving $4 million on yearly basis! $4 million endorsements per year isn’t a joke but that’s not all he gets since he has an equity stake with the UA.

11. Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo

Endorsement: Nike
Value: $1 billion

Cristiano Ronaldo and Nike have enjoyed a successful partnership for many years now. The athlete has got as many as 60 cleats from the company as at the time his professional career hit thirteen years. The Nike swoosh gets attention each time the player mounts the field to compete.

Ronaldo’s soccer history was made after he got a lifetime contract with the sportswear giant. Over time, the contract is expected to hit one billion dollars, and this will continue even after the athlete has bid football goodbye! Like Ronaldo, Lebron James, the basketball legend, signed a similar deal with the sportswear giant at a point in time, with a huge payout.

10. Roger Federer

Roger Federer

Endorsement: Uniqlo
Value: $300 million

Roger Federer breaks records so easily that He has got what Forbes called a ‘blockbuster deal.’ Like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods, Roger Federer remains the only athlete who has earned $70 million and above per year in endorsements. Not until 2016 did the iconic tennis player stopped getting money from Nike. The contract he had with Nike expired in 2016.

Federer signed another contract with Uniqlo, a Japan-based sportswear brand. This contract is to run for ten years and it is close to $300 million per year. The athlete will still be paid after he has bid the game goodbye. Several Nike’s clients are now doing business with Uniqlo.

9. Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka

Endorsement: Adidas
Value: $6.5 million

Nike and Adidas are rivals. Adidas used to be in partnership with Naomi Osaka before she was picked up by Nike. Osaka is currently one of the best female tennis players around the world and her deal with Nike is an improved one. While in partnership with Adidas, she made $6.5 million per year.

Her decision to switch to Nike surprised many people in the sporting world. Why she abandoned the deal which earned her millions of dollars made many hearts skip. She later confessed that she was very excited to work with Nike, her new sponsor.

8. Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods

Endorsement: Nike
Value: $200 million

Tiger Woods has had his personal problems in the past but he is fully back now. The iconic athlete had a five-year deal with Nike and the deal was over $200 million. Nike didn’t let the golf star down when he was feeling the heat of alleged infidelity with Elin Nordegren, his ex-wife.

True, the scandal is now a thing of the past. Nike and Woods signed their first deal in the late nineties. And the deal he signed in 2013 doubled the value of his first deal with the sportswear giant. In 2019, the athlete won the Masters and Nike’s belief in him, all this while, was justified.

7. Lionel Messi

Messi

Endorsement: Adidas
Value: $12 million

Lionel Messi is actually one of the modern-day soccer heroes, like Cristiano Ronaldo. Unlike Cristiano Ronaldo who has a connection with Nike, Messi has a life contract with Adidas and he earns over $12 million per year from the deal. The athlete is followed on social media by over 184 million people. So, each post he makes can get his sponsor a whole lot of exposure and profit.

His partnership with Adidas has created over $216 million already and Messi, one of FC Barcelona superstars, earns $44.8 million as salary every year.

6. Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior

6. Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior

Endorsement: Nike
Value: $350 million

Neymar da Silva Santos Junior ranks high on the list of richest professional soccer players around the world. He turned professional in 2009 at the age of seventeen and, like Cristiano Ronaldo, his close friend, Neymar is endorsed by Nike. Officially, his contract with Nike runs till 2022 and there is room for an extension until 2024.

Neymar plays for Paris Saint-Germain F.C. The athlete has had sponsorship endorsements with companies like Apple and Nike in the past. It remains unclear whether Neymar would extend his sponsorship endorsement with Nike since he is now facing some legal issues.

5. Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant

Endorsement: Nike
Value: $40 million

Kobe Bryant is a retired NBA star. His deal with Adidas was dropped in 2003 when he had some legal issues but Nike struck a deal with him almost immediately. And, year by year, Nike stayed with him in a deal worth $40 million. The athlete also had endorsement deals with McDonald’s, Sprite, Spalding, and Nutella.

Kobe gets $8 million per year from Nike in a deal that will run for five years. In all, he rakes in $26 million from endorsements every year and, while he was in the NBA, he could only make $25 million each year. Also, Kobe has his personal brand of Nike shoes.

4. Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan

Endorsement: Nike
Value: $130 million

Michael Jordan, the iconic basketball legend, was first signed by Nike for $500,000 per year for a period of five years when he got to the NBA. He had played in the UNC’s basketball program before his NBA career began. From this time, Jordan and Nike have done business but on improved terms.

Jordan earns $130 million from Nike and their partnership was the most lucrative deal in the eighties and nineties. Jordan’s deal with Nike revolutionized the face of sports marketing. At present, Jordan’s net worth is pegged at $1.9 billion.

3. Serena Williams

Serena Williams

Endorsement: Nike
Value: $55 million

Serena Williams remains a renowned tennis player. She is reputed as one of the best players to grace sports. And, due to her prowess, she has got many endorsement deals. The first deal she signed with Nike ran for five years and she earned $40 million. The deal was signed in 2004. Now, the money is in the region of $55 million and it will run for five years.

On yearly basis, Williams gets $18 million on endorsement deal from Nike, Gatorade, Wilson, and other companies. Apart from her endorsement earnings, she makes $4.2 million from playing tennis and she tops the list of the richest female tennis players.

2. LeBron James

LeBron James

Endorsement: Nike

Value: $1 billion

LeBron James is a well-known basketball athlete around the world. His early life was lived in Akron, Ohio and he has starred for many teams like Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers. LA Lakers will soon be another team he will be playing for. Having won several endorsements already, LeBron is considered a gold mine of advertising. He has starred for many athletic and beverage brands.

The athlete has got a lifetime deal worth millions of dollars with sports and lifestyle giant, Nike. His lifelong deal with Nike is said to be in the region of one billion dollars. Terms of the deal show that the athlete will appear in ads, shows, apparel, and other basketball-related kinds of stuff. James’ publicist didn’t want people to know the exact figure of the deal. But, from what many analysts say, James will rake in about one billion dollars from the assets of the endorsement.

1. David Beckham

David Beckham

Endorsement: Adidas

Value: $160M

David Beckham ranks high on the list of the most famous athletes around the world. The soccer superstar remains one of the most talented midfielders to have ever played the round-leather game. The athlete was born in London and he began to play football in Manchester United’s youth team in 1991. He made his Premier League debut in 1995 and he went on to win many titles across four different countries!

Many companies extended endorsement offers to this versatile midfielder. The companies knew they could make a profit from his stream of success. Adidas was one of these companies and it struck a record deal of $160 million with the player. Not only is this endorsement the biggest in football history but also one that will be hard to forget. This explains why every athlete wants to hit it hard like David Beckham.