By Toni Maglovski / February 15, 2022
When it comes to athletes, it’s no secret that they’re making a lot of money from their talent and fame – but how much does that actually come to? Well, most famous athletes are sponsored by multiple different companies and brands, which will soon add up. These companies are willing to pay millions to partner with the top athletes, as it gets their brand in view for everyone to see – people want to relate to their favourite athlete or idol. So let’s take a look at the biggest athlete’s sponsorship deals currently out there.
Everyone knows Cristiano Ronaldo, he’s one of the most known football players globally, so you can expect to see some impressive earnings from his sponsorships. Not every fan out there is aware that Cristiano Ronaldo is not his full name, and “Ronaldo” was inspired by Ronald Reagan – due to his father’s admiration of the at the time US president.
As for his biggest sponsorship deal, he’s being sponsored by Nike. This deal brings him in an estimated twenty million dollars per year, which is an unfathomable amount of money for most people. He’s been signed with them since all the way back in 2003 and has since picked up a few more sponsorships along the way.
Like Ronaldo, most people have heard of David Beckham, he’s iconic in the football world. While you might not be familiar with his talents, you might have heard the phrase “bend it like Beckham”. In 2003, Beckham signed the biggest deal he would ever sign, with Adidas. It was a lifetime agreement, and he would net 160 million dollars from the deal. An incredible amount of money, to which he no longer upholds as he has since retired from playing football. In his career, he also signed deals with various other names such as Armani, Pepsi, and Gillette.
Not a footballer this time, but one of the biggest names in Tennis instead. Anyone who’s ever heard of Tennis has heard of Federer, and he’s more than earned his sponsorships with his work on the court. When Federer was new to fame, he had signed an annual deal with Nike, which came to around £7 million. He did not keep that deal, however, as he signed with Uniqlo in 2018 for £220 million over the course of 10 years, which is more than three times what Nike was offering him.
Tiger woods is pretty much the face of golf, everyone’s heard of him, be it through their interest in golf, media, or the various golf-themed videogames. Of all of Woods’ sponsorship deals, Nike has been his most prominent. He signed with Nike in 1996 when he first turned pro, and they stuck with him through his controversies. When his original deal with Nike was over in 2001, he had signed another deal with them which totalled $100 million over the course of 4 years.
If you’ve never heard of Lebron James, then you’re definitely no fan of basketball. He’s been a pro basketball player since 2003 and has made a huge name for himself over the years. His ambitions don’t stop there, as he’s still aiming to be the greatest basketball player of all time. His most notable partnership with a brand though is his Nike sponsorship. It has netted him millions and millions over the years, with the initial agreement being $93 million. He also ended his 17 year-long partnership with Coca-Cola to start a new one with Pepsi Cola – their rival.
Another huge name in the world of professional basketball, is New York Knicks’ Derrick Rose. He has a long list of achievements, and one of the most interesting is that he is the youngest MVP of all time. He was only 22 years of age when he was announced the MVP after leading his team to an incredible record. His biggest brand partnership is said to be Adidas, as it’s a lifetime sponsorship deal that netted him around $250 million. An incredible amount of money, and that’s just one of his sponsors. He’s also signed with Powerade, Skull Candy, and NBA2K.
Usain Bolt, the incredibly talented runner no longer works with his skills, but during his time in the spotlight – he had some impressive sponsorship deals. While some of you might feel like physical issues hold you back, it’s worth knowing that although Usain Bolt suffers from Scoliosis, he has never let it stop him from pursuing his dreams. With his impressive records, he attracts some great sponsorship deals. His biggest deal was with Puma, which paid over $10 million per year. Of course, he has since retired and no longer runs professionally.
For those of you who are only recently getting into professional basketball, you might notice that you’ve not seen Wade playing. He only retired a few years ago, back in 2019. He started his professional 16-year career in 2003 and opened to doors to a promising partnership. He signed with Li-Ning, and they agreed upon a $10 million lifetime deal. That’s not all that he got from the deal, though, as he was also named Chief Brand Officer of Li-Ning. Since then the deal has been extended to a lifetime, even though he has retired from the NBA.
For years, Sharapova was one of the most notorious names in professional Tennis, and she was also one of the highest-paid female athletes of all time. However, she’s since retired, as she announced back in February 2020. The partnership that stands out the most in Sharapova’s history of sponsors is Nike, which was an 8-year deal worth £70 million. It’s not her only sponsorship though, as she had many others with brands like Head, Sugarpova (her own business), Tag Heuer, and Porsche just to name a few.
Another familiar name in professional golf, Rory Mcilroy has been a prominent face throughout the years, ever since 2007. He was 18 at the time but had been an avid fan and player ever since he was 7 years old. Just like Woods, his most notable deal was signed with Nike, which offered him around $250 million over the course of 10 years. While the numbers aren’t exactly known, they’re higher than what Nike has offered to Woods.
As you can see, being incredibly talented can take you a long way, and in a lot of these cases, the biggest sponsorship deals are purely for attending events – it’s not all through playing or performing. In a sense, it pays to be one of the most talented at what you do.
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