10 professional athletes who bring home the biggest approval checks

Image source: Nike.

Sport is big business today, and athletes are at the center of it. Not only are the stars making millions on the pitch, but the best players are winning even more corporate backing and sponsorship looking for a halo effect of a beloved champion.

Michael Jordan’s long-standing partnership with Nike (NYSE: NKE) This may be the best example of this, but today a new generation of talent is bringing in tens of millions of dollars in corporate transactions.

Using data from Forbes and Opendorse, below are the 10 professional athletes who made the most of mentions last year.

Cristiano Ronaldo crosses a stylized puddle

Image source: Nike.

# 8 (tie): Cristiano Ronaldo ($ 32 million)

The Real Madrid star was actually the highest paid athlete based on his salary and endorsements with a total of $ 82 million, but his $ 32 million in sponsorship places him tied for 8th overall in the league. listing. Ronaldo’s most important corporate partnership is with Nike, which has made the Portuguese striker – the most popular athlete in the world, with over 200 million social media followers – the cornerstone of his strategy. of football.

Ronaldo led Portugal to the European Championship title last year and also counts the Tag Heuer and Monster headphones among his sponsors.

Jordan Spieth posing in Under Armor outfit

Image source: Under Armor.

# 8 (tie): Jordan Spieth ($ 32 million)

Golfer Jordan Spieth rose to fame with his 2015 Masters victory, which also gave his outfitter’s actions a boost. Under protection (NYSE: UA) (NYSE: UAA). Under Armor stock collapsed when Spieth choked on the tournament the following year, but he redeemed himself at the 2017 British Open. Although Spieth was only 24, he made 32 million. dollars last year in endorsements from brands such as AT&T, Coca Cola, Titleist and Rolex.

Thanks to its high income fan base, golf supporters tend to be some of the most valuable in the world of sports, as other names on the list will reveal.

Rafael Nadal prepares for a shot at the 2012 Australian Open

Image source: Pixabay.

# 8 (tie): Rafael Nadal ($ 32 million)

Considered the best tennis player of his time alongside Roger Federer, Nadal has provided $ 32 million in support of Nike, Kia, Tommy Hilfiger and Babolat. Nadal won 16 Grand Slam titles during his career and 10 French Open, a record. At 30, he should continue to dominate the game for several more years.

Novak Djokovic is getting ready for a serve.

Image source: Adidas.

# 7: Novak Djokovic ($ 34 million)

Like golf, tennis is an individual “country club sport”, so it’s no surprise to see Djokovic join rival Nadal on the list. Djokovic received support from adidas (NasdaqOTC: ADDYY), Head, Seiko and Peugeot. His gains on the court weren’t too poor either, as he became the first player to earn more than $ 20 million in a year in 2015. Djokovic is also the all-time tennis leader in terms of earnings with $ 110 million in earnings.

Rory McIlroy holds a golf club in front of him with the sky in the background.

Image source: Nike.

# 6: Rory McIlroy ($ 35 million)

McIlroy has been one of the best golfers in the world for almost a decade, and that fame and success garnered $ 35 million in endorsements last year from companies like Nike, Omega, Bose. , Upper Deck and Jumeirah.

The Northern Irish golfer originally signed with Nike in 2013, and the two extended their partnership earlier this year with a new long-term contract. Notably, Nike said last year that it stop making golf equipment, including clubs, balls, and bags, and focus on shoes and clothing instead. McIlroy lamented the move Twitter at the time, expressing sympathy to the employees of Nike Golf.

Kevin Durant holds up a pair of KD8 sneakers

Image source: Nike.

# 5: Kevin Durant ($ 36 million)

Now a Nike sponsor for a decade, Durant also has partnerships with several other brands, including Walk-in locker, Sonic, and Sprint. The NBA star made waves when he went from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Golden State Warriors, joining Under Armor star Stephen Curry in the process. The move paid off: the Warriors won the championship this year and Durant won the MVP.

Soon after, however, Durant swept his teammate’s mark, claiming in a podcast that young players don’t want to wear Under Armor shoes. This comment took over 3% on Under Armor shares.

Tiger Woods leans on a golf club and chats with a man holding a Nike shoe.

Image source: Nike.

# 4: Tiger Woods ($ 45 million)

It may be surprising to see Tiger Woods so high on the list when the once dominant golfer is now well past his prime. A car accident and marital infidelity scandal in 2010 caused Woods to lose a number of sponsors; However, Nike stuck with him and the Swoosh still pays him $ 20 million a year as part of their partnership.

A DUI earlier this year threatened that income stream again, but Woods was able to retain sponsors including Monster Drink and Taylor Made.

Phil Mickelson runs a club in front of fans in the stands.

Image source: Callaway Golf.

# 3 Phil Mickelson ($ 50 million)

Fellow golfer and longtime Woods rival Phil Mickelson sits third on the list with $ 50 million in prize money. Unlike everyone else on this list, Mickelson doesn’t have a deal with a big sneaker company, but he does come to terms with KPMG sponsorships, Callaway, Exxon, Barclays and others.

With his long career atop the charts, Mickelson has made himself a fan favorite and has converted this sequel into a number of valuable corporate sponsorships.

Lebron James smiling in street clothes

Image source: Nike.

# 2: LeBron James ($ 54 million)

Sports fans won’t be surprised to find LeBron James so high on the list. The Cleveland Cavaliers star has been a dominant force in the NBA for a decade, leading his teams to a record seven consecutive NBA Finals.

James’s most prominent sponsorship is with Nike, but he’s also a pitchman for Coca-Cola, Samsung, Mcdonalds, and Beats by Dr. Dre.

In 2015, the King signed a lifetime deal with Nike worth over $ 1 billion. This arrangement indicates that Nike plans to make LeBron a brand long before he retires, much like it’s done with Michael Jordan and the Jordan brand.

Roger Federer prepares to swing his racket.

Image source: Nike.

# 1: Roger Federer ($ 60 million)

Topping the list of marketable athletes is Roger Federer, who grossed $ 60 million in sponsorships last year. Federer has reigned over the tennis world for 15 years and with 19 Grand Slam wins he has more than any other man in history. The extent of its appeal is visible in the lineup of its sponsors, which include Nike, Rolex, Wilson, Swiss credit, and Mercedes-Benz.

At 35, Federer could have a few more years in the spotlight before he retires and loses his windfall.

This article represents the opinion of the author, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a premium Motley Fool consulting service. We are heterogeneous! Challenging an investment thesis – even one of our own – helps us all to think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.

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