19 Biggest Athletic Endorsements in 2020

by Dusan Jovanovic

Being a high-level athlete tends to be very lucrative. People like LeBron James, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Tiger Woods get handsomely rewarded for being the best in their respective sports, and they have multi-million dollar contracts to show for it.

However, the money that these athletes earn directly from their sports career makes for just one part of their total earnings. Athletic endorsements they get from sponsors can sometimes be even more significant than the contracts that they have with their clubs and organizations.

Companies like Nike, Adidas, Puma, and Under Armour, among others, do whatever it takes to bring these talented individuals to their side. Getting a sponsorship deal with such a star results in a massive bump in merchandise sales, so it comes as no surprise that the biggest endorsement deals can sometimes bring in hundreds of millions of dollars.

In this article, we will name 20 athletes who became super-rich not just by playing in sports arenas and stadiums, but also by being the faces of various companies and corporations.

Top 19 athletes with the biggest endorsements:

1. Cristiano Ronaldo
2. LeBron James
3. Tiger Woods
4. Lionel Messi
5. Rory Mcllroy
6. David Beckham
7. Kevin Durant
8. Roger Federer
9. Floyd Mayweather
10. Conor McGregor
11. Neymar Jr.
12. Novak Djokovic
13. Rafael Nadal
14. Tom Brady
15. Serena Williams
16. Stephen Curry
17. Odell Beckham Jr
18. Phil Mickelson
19. Virat Kohli

1. Cristiano Ronaldo

(sources: Forbes, Sports Keeda)

Cristiano Ronaldo

Appropriately named “the walking billboard”, Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the wealthiest athletes and has one of the biggest endorsement deals of all time. Cristiano has sponsorship deals with multiple companies like Herbalife, Tag Heuer, EA Sports, and KFC, among others. However, his biggest sponsor is, of course, Nike.

Ronaldo has been the face of Nike since 2003 and has multiple trademark products made by the company. In 2016, Cristiano Ronaldo’s Nike deal got signed to the tune of one billion dollars. Cristiano’s net worth at this moment is around $460 million. His salary is €31 million a year, while his endorsements bring him over $35 million per annum.

Cristiano Ronaldo Profile:

  • Age: 35
  • Profession: Soccer
  • Net worth: $460 million
  • Primary endorsements: Nike, Herbalife, EA Sports, KFC, Tag Heuer, Toyota, and others.

2. LeBron James

(source: Investopedia)

LeBron James

After 17 years and counting in the NBA, LeBron James has left a mark on basketball that very few other players can match. He is often considered one of the best players of all time, and the remaining couple of years of his career could put him over Michael Jordan in that regard.

LeBron has been a magnet for endorsements ever since he finished high school and joined the NBA at the age of 18. He is yet another athlete sponsored by Nike, who grabbed the opportunity to sign him right away.

James made close to $100 million in just his first seven seasons in the league, and his signature shoes are the best-selling sports item among all NBA players. LeBron is currently playing for the Los Angeles Lakers with whom he signed a 4-year $154 million deal.

Just like Ronaldo, LeBron also has a $1 billion lifetime deal with Nike. His endorsements portfolio also includes brands like 2K Sports, Blaze Pizza, Coca-Cola, and Beats by Dre. 

LeBron James Profile:

  • Age: 35
  • Profession: Basketball
  • Net worth: $480 million
  • Primary endorsements: Nike, Coca-Cola, 2K Sports, Blaze Pizza, Beats by Dre

3. Tiger Woods

(sources: Live About)

Tiger Woods

Often considered the best golfer of all times, Tiger Woods is another Nike endorser who became wealthy through sponsorships and doing commercials. After a 2009 scandal involving his cheating on his wife, Woods lost a lot of endorsements from companies like Buick, AT&T, and Gatorade. However, his relationship with Nike continued, and the company extended his contract in 2013.

Today, Woods’ net worth is at around $800 million. Apart from Nike, Woods has several endorsement deals from golf companies like Bridgestone, Full Swing, and TaylorMade Golf. 

Tiger Woods Profile:

  • Age: 44
  • Profession: Golf
  • Net worth: $800 million
  • Primary endorsements: Nike, Bridgestone

4. Lionel Messi

(sources: Investopedia)

Lionel Messi

Leo Messi is one of the best soccer players in history, and his success and popularity all over the world have brought him some very lucrative sponsorship deals. Namely, Messi is one of the most recognized Adidas-sponsored athletes. He signed a lifetime deal with the company in 2017, but the size of that deal hasn’t yet been made official.

In 2018, Messi was the second best-paid athlete in the world after boxer Floyd Mayweather. The Argentinian superstar has a massive contract with his club Barcelona that earns him $80 million per annum. However, his endorsements make up for almost half that amount every year.

Lionel Messi Profile:

  • Age: 32
  • Profession: Soccer
  • Net worth: $400 million
  • Primary endorsements: Adidas, Pepsi, Gatorade, Huawei

5. Rory McIlroy

(sources: Business Insider)

Rory Mcllroy

Tiger Woods is by far the highest-paid golfer in history, but Rory McIlroy is making some serious cash from endorsement deals as well. His biggest sponsors right now are Nike and TaylorMade. Rory’s Nike deal is worth around $200 million, and his total annual earnings are close to $40 million thanks to other sponsorships he has with TaylorMade, Upper Deck, and Omega.

Many believe that the torch has been passed from Woods to McIlroy when it comes to golf deals. He replaced Woods on the cover of the popular golf video game from EA Sports that now carries his name – Rory McIlroy PGA Tour. 

Rory McIlroy Profile:

  • Age: 30
  • Profession: Golf
  • Net worth: $122 million
  • Primary endorsements: Nike, TaylorMade, Upper Deck, Omega, EA Sports

6. David Beckham

(sources: Goal.com)

David Beckham

David Beckham is one of the rare top endorsed athletes on this list, who is retired. Beckham stopped playing professional soccer in 2013 but is still enjoying multiple athletic endorsements.

It is interesting to note that Beckham’s highest-earning year was the first year of his retirement in 2014 when he earned around $75 million. He still has a sponsorship deal with Adidas, although he also had signed multiple other contracts, including ones with Armani, Diageo, Gillette, Pepsi, and H&M, among others. Beckham’s net worth is estimated at $450 million in 2020. 

David Beckham Profile:

  • Age: 44
  • Profession: soccer (retired)
  • Net worth: $450 million
  • Primary endorsements: Adidas, H&M, Tudor Watches, Haig Club Whiskey

7. Kevin Durant

(sources: Bleacher Report)

Kevin Durant

Durant originally signed with Nike at the beginning of his career, but in 2014 Under Armour wanted in on the action. However, Nike was able to offer more money and win Duran over once again. His Nike deal expires in 2024 and is worth over $300 million.

Kevin Durant is one of the most successful basketball players of this generation. He won two NBA championships playing for the Golden State Warriors and alongside Steph Curry, another person that we will cover on this list.

In addition to his Nike endorsements, KD has dozens of other endorsement deals that include sponsors such as Google, Alaska Airlines, Gatorade, Beats by Dre, and others. In total, Durant has appeared in commercials for over 20 different companies.

Kevin Durant Profile:

  • Age: 31
  • Profession: Basketball
  • Net worth: $170 million
  • Primary endorsements: Nike, Google, Gatorade, Beats by Dre

8. Roger Federer

(sources: The Street)

Roger Federer

Roger Federer is considered to be the greatest of all time when it comes to tennis. He is the holder of multiple tennis records, like winning the most Grand Slams (20), Wimbledon titles (8), and spending the most time (more than 300 weeks) as the world’s number one. His total career prize money is close to $130 million as of 2020.

Federer has been among the most recognizable Nike-sponsored tennis athletes for a long time, but he didn’t renew his contract and instead signed with Japanese brand Uniqlo for $300 million over ten years.

Over the years, Roger has been one of the faces for a variety of brands, including Gillette, Rolex, and Mercedes Benz. His net worth is estimated at $450 million. 

Roger Federer Profile:

  • Age: 38
  • Profession: Tennis
  • Net worth: $450 million
  • Primary endorsements: Uniqlo, Rolex, Mercedes Benz, Gillette, Credit Suisse, Wilson

9. Floyd Mayweather

(sources: Cheat Sheet)

Floyd Mayweather

Floyd Mayweather is the most recognizable name in today’s boxing. His fights attract millions of viewers, and therefore, millions of dollars. The man’s nickname is literally “Money”, but he doesn’t earn it by just boxing. He also has a lot of athletic endorsements that make him one of the wealthiest people in sports.

Floyd has earned over $1 billion throughout his career, a feat that only two athletes achieved before him – Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods.

Mayweather’s main sponsor is Hublot, a luxury watchmaker company from Switzerland. He doesn’t have that many endorsements – his contract’s entry fee is usually too high for most brands. Still, he does earn over $10 million from sponsors each year. 

Floyd Mayweather Profile:

  • Age: 43
  • Profession: Boxing
  • Net worth: $700 million
  • Primary endorsements: Hublot

10. Conor McGregor

(sources: Sports Keeda)

Conor McGregor

Alongside Floyd Mayweather, Conor McGregor is the most recognizable figure in fighting sports. Fighting in both boxing and mixed martial arts, McGregor made a fortune in a very short time. In less than ten years as a pro, the Irish fighter won hundreds of millions of dollars in total prize earnings, and his net worth today is estimated at over $100 million.

As far as his endorsements go, McGregor has enjoyed lucrative sponsorships from brands like Bud Light, Reebok, Burger King, Beats by Dre, and Monster Energy. Yearly, he earns around $15 million from endorsements only. 

Conor McGregor Profile:

  • Age: 31
  • Profession: Mixed martial arts
  • Net worth: $110 million
  • Primary endorsements: Reebok, Monster Energy, Beats by Dre, Bud Light

11. Neymar Júnior

(sources: Forbes)

Neymar

The Brazilian superstar Neymar Júnior is one of the wealthiest soccer players ever, although his career is not even halfway through. Neymar is one of the youngest athletes on this list, meaning that his biggest endorsement deals are yet to come.

In 2019 alone, Neymar earned $105 million, making him the seventh top earner among celebrities for that year. One-third of his earnings came from endorsement deals with brands like Red Bull, McDonald’s, MasterCard, EA Sports, Gillette, Beats by Dre, and others. He is currently a Nike endorser and one of Nike’s highest-paid athletes. 

Neymar Júnior Profile:

  • Age: 28
  • Profession: Soccer
  • Net worth: $185 million
  • Primary endorsements: Nike, Red Bull, Beats by Dre, Gillette, Electronic Arts

12. Novak Djokovic

(sources: The Street)

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic is a serious candidate for the title of best tennis place ever. He has produced incredible performances over the last couple of years. Djokovic, once playing in Adidas, Sergio Tacchini, and Uniqlo uniforms, has now become a “crocodile” and is the most famous person to wear Lacoste in pro sports. Novak will earn just under $10 million per annum from Lacoste until his athlete endorsement contract expires at the end of 2022.

His other tennis-related deals include Asics shoes and Head rackets. He also has agreements in place with brands like Seiko, Ultimate Software Group, NetJets, and others. Djokovic’s current net worth is estimated at $200 million. 

Novak Djokovic Profile:

  • Age: 32
  • Profession: Tennis
  • Net worth: $200 million
  • Primary endorsements: Lacoste, Head, Asics, Seiko

13. Rafael Nadal

(sources: Tennis World USA) 

Rafael Nadal

Rounding up the “Big 3” of tennis, we also must talk about Rafael Nadal and his endorsements throughout his successful career. He is one of many Nike endorsed athletes, although the details of his contract with the brand are not precisely known, as he claims that it’s a private matter.

However, some sources have it on good authority that Rafa earns around $10 million per year from Nike. Other famous brands that sponsor Nadal include Kia Motors, Babolat, Telfónica, and Banco Santander. 

Rafael Nadal Profile:

  • Age: 33
  • Profession: Tennis
  • Net worth: $180 million
  • Primary endorsements: Nike, Kia, Babolat

14. Tom Brady

(sources: Forbes)

Tom Brady

Forty-two years old and still going! Tom Brady is one of the biggest legends in NFL history, and he made a massive fortune along the way, both from his salary and his NFL endorsements. Tom Brady is one of Under Armour’s endorsement athletes, and together with other deals, he earns around $6 million a year.

The five-time Super Bowl winner is worth around $180 million. Together with his wife Gisele Bündchen, they have a combined net worth of nearly $600 million. 

Tom Brady Profile:

  • Age: 42
  • Profession: American football
  • Net worth: $180 million
  • Primary endorsements: Under Armour, Tag Heuer, UGG

15. Serena Williams

(sources: Celebrity Net Worth)

Serena Williams

Serena Williams is one of the most dominant female tennis players of all time. She won 23 Grand Slams, had a baby, came back, and is still performing superbly despite being 38 years old.

She’s been with Nike since 2003 when she signed a 5-year $40 million deal. In total, Serena earns anywhere between $10 and $20 million per annum from multiple endorsements. Apart from Nike, her sponsor portfolio includes Wilson, Beats by Dre, JP Morgan, and others. Her net worth is estimated at around $200 million. 

Serena Williams Profile:

  • Age: 38
  • Profession: Tennis
  • Net worth: $200 million
  • Primary endorsements: Nike, Wilson, JP Morgan, Beats by Dre

16. Stephen Curry

(sources: Bleacher Report)

Stephen Curry

Steph Curry and his Golden State Warriors terrorized the NBA for the last five years. In the meantime, Curry won back-to-back MVP awards and was an All-Star in each of those seasons. His success was followed by a series of sponsorship deals that established him as one of the richest basketball players in the world.

After being sponsored by Nike for the first few years of his career, Curry signed with Under Armour in 2014 and has nine signature shoes already. His 10-year deal with this brand will earn him around $285 million, while his total endorsement earnings are around $42 million per annum.

Stephen Curry Profile:

  • Age: 31
  • Profession: Basketball
  • Net worth: $130 million
  • Primary endorsements: Under Armour, Rakuten, Chase, Nissan

17. Odell Beckham Junior

(sources: Market Watch)

Odell Beckham Junior

Odell Beckham Jr. is the highest-paid wide receiver in the history of the NFL. His stats speak for themselves, and so do his sponsorship deals. Namely, Beckham has one of the biggest endorsement deals in the NFL right now. He signed a five-year $29 million deal with Nike in 2017, which was several times bigger than his salary at the time.

Apart from Nike, Odell’s most prominent sponsor is United Sports Brands. His net worth in 2020 is estimated at $25 million. 

Odell Beckham Junior Profile:

  • Age: 27
  • Profession: American football
  • Net worth: $25 million
  • Primary endorsements: Nike, United Sports Brands

18. Phil Mickelson

(sources: Business Insider)

Phil Mickelson

There are those athletes that earn most of their money from tournament prizes or team salaries, and then there’s Phil Mickelson. This golfer has made 90% of his earnings from endorsements, and he has an awe-inspiring portfolio of sponsors.

Namely, Phil is endorsed by brands and companies like Barclays, Exxon Mobil, and Callaway, among others. He also has one of those very lucrative Rolex athlete endorsements that a very few people have. Phil is one of the highest-paid golfers of all time and the oldest person on this list by far. Mickelson has an estimated net worth of $400 million. 

Phil Mickelson Profile:

  • Age: 49
  • Profession: Golf
  • Net worth: $400 million
  • Primary endorsements: Rolex, Barclays, Exxon Mobil

19. Virat Kohli

(sources: Business Insider)

Virat Kohli

Cricket is not a popular sport in every corner of the globe, but it still attracts millions of fans from countries like India, Australia, England, South Africa, and others. By far, the biggest superstar in today’s cricket is Virat Kohli, a phenomenal batsman from India.

Kohli has multiple endorsements from companies like Puma, Pepsi, Audi, and Oakley. His total earnings are at around $24 million, and $20 million of that comes just from endorsements. 

Virat Kohli Profile:

  • Age: 31
  • Profession: Cricket
  • Net worth: $25 million
  • Primary endorsements: Audi, Pepsi, Puma

Conclusion

We hope that you enjoyed our article about some of the biggest athletic endorsements in today’s pro sports. Of course, news deals are being signed every day and this list may be outdated very soon, but for the time being these players are some of the richest in the world thanks to their brand signings.

Sources:

1. Forbes
2. Sports Keeda
3. Investopedia
4. Live About
5. Investopedia
6. Business Insider
7. Goal.com
8. Bleacher Report
9. The Street
10. Cheat Sheet
11. Sports Keeda
12. Forbes
13. The Street
14. Tennis World USA
15. Forbes
16. Celebrity Net Worth
17. Bleacher Report
18. Market Watch
19. Business Insider

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