Athletes annual salaries are continually rising due to a variety of reasons, such as increase in demand for viewing and more sponsorships. This article looks at 5 athletes who get paid an impressive amount.
LeBron James is America’s most endorsed athlete (sponsorships from Nike, AT&T, Coca-Cola, HBO, Beats and more). Sponsorship is a two-way street, as it provides an excellent source of marketing for brands. All together he brought home $99.2 million in 2020.
Rising from humble beginnings in Akron, Ohio, James’ basketball career to date is testament to what is possible through determination, hard work and bucket-loads of talent. James was introduced to the game aged 9 by his foster-father and sports coach.
From the very start, James’ incredible strength, pace and balance led to a slew of awards and championships.
He has featured in a record 8 NBA finals in a row, and brought home the victory spoils for his team on 3 of those occasions.
Frequently compared to the legendary Michael Jordan, James recently passed his hero to become number 3 on the NBA all-time leading scorer’s chart.
James is also known for his philanthropy and has provided a wealth of financial support to various community development causes and charities.
Despite not playing at any tennis in the year due to injury, Roger Federer was the highest-paid athlete of 2020. A reported $106.3 million made its way to the tennis star largely through brand endorsements.
The 38-year-old 20-time Grand-Slam champion managed this through some highly profitable contracts and brand endorsements. In 2018, the Swiss star signed a $300 million 10-year deal with the Japanese retailer Uniqlo.
Federer is quoted as saying he looked to Uniqlo as a solid partner even as he contemplates life after tennis.
“Uniqlo believed in me very strongly as being very important to their brand, even though maybe my playing days are going to come to an end at some point.”
Federer also negotiated a year held back by injury to make the most of his strong portfolio that includes deals with Rolex, Mercedes-Benz, and Barilla.
British Formula One superstar Lewis Hamilton secured $72 million from victories, sponsorships and endorsements during 2020.
The Lewis Hamilton net worth was bolstered by a fourth consecutive F1 win for Mercedes, adding to his 7 overall victories. This equals the titles won by Michael Schumacher, and is two more than the next nearest competitor.
Hamilton enjoyed a record year in 2020 by tying his personal best season by winning 11 out of 17 races in the tournament.
Hamilton’s current salary with Mercedes-Benz is thought to be in the region of $54 million a year. At the time of writing, the driver is negotiating a contract with the team to take him into the ongoing season.
Away from the racetrack, the 36-year-old Hamilton has established an enviable record of commercial and financial successes. The hugely marketable racer reportedly earns over $12 million a year thanks to endorsements from Tommy Hilfiger, Puma, Sony, Bose, Monster Energy, and Vodafone.
The combined earnings from his racing career plus commercial engagements have provided Hamilton with a notable list of real estate investments. As well as a 19th Century West London mansion worth at least $24 million, the racing driver also owns properties in Switzerland, New York, and Monaco.
During the year of 2020, the Argentinian soccer player Messi made $104 million. The gifted forward enjoys an $80 million a year deal with his club Barcelona.
Despite ongoing contract wrangling between the forward and his team of over 20 years, Messi resolved to see out the rest of the season in Spain.
The 33-year-old Messi also has a lifelong sponsorship contract with the sportswear and fashion label Adidas.
Other brands in the footballer’s portfolio include Gatorade, Pepsi, Dolce & Gabbana and Mastercard.
Messi’s global reach and experience with charitable organisations led to him forming the Leo Messi Foundation, which helps provide access to health, education and sport to underprivileged youth.
Soccer player Ronaldo made $105 million during 2020. With Messi he shares the distinction of earning over $1billion in his career.
On the pitch playing for Juventus FC, Ronaldo earns $60 million a year, with another $45 million off it. Prosperous commercial endorsements with Unilever, Nike, Herbalife help to make the financial portfolio even more noteworthy.
Ronaldo has a strong social media presence- he is the most followed person on Instagram in the world, with almost 244 million followers. This level of stardom certainly helps build on his fame even outside of sport.
Ronaldo’s instantly recognisable features have also lent strength to an ambassadorial role to a commercial travel and investment campaign by Emirates International airline. Signed in 2014, the ongoing commitment added another dimension to the five-time FIFA player of the year’s resume.
All of these highly paid athletes have one thing in common; they are world-beating greats in their chosen sport. Their personal wealth reflects how high they have risen in their field.
But it goes beyond that. As this list shows, they have the financial acumen to seek out the most profitable deals to further bolster their bank balances.
A large part of their financial success is the ability to trade on their reputations and global recognition.
Why not take a look at their decisions both on and off the pitch, court and track, and see what is possible to learn?
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