World’s top 10 most valuable athletes

The business magazine, Forbes has published their annual list of the top 10 most valuable athletes, in terms of their brand value, in the world. The list makes for fascinating reading and provides great insight into the world of sports business.

The list features the likes of Leo Messi, Ronaldo and India’s Virat Kohli. Here are the top 10 most valuable athletes on the planet.

#10 Stephen Curry: $13.4 million

The 29-year-old, Curry of the Golden State Warriors breaks into the top 10 this year. The two-time NBA Champion is also a two-time MVP, four-time All-Star and was the NBA’s leading scorer leader in 2016.

Stephen’s success has attracted a lot of attention from sponsors in the States, with Under Armour being one of the biggest brands he endorses. Known as ‘the face of the footwear line,’ the Curry shoe line has helped the sporting goods company scale unprecedented heights.

#9 Lionel Messi: $13.5 million

Leo Messi, the Argentina football star and one of the world’s greatest player, have seen a dip in his popularity among brand after failing to win the Ballon d’Or this year.Barcelona’s collective failure all season, especially relative to Real Madrid’s splendid successes, didn’t helped either.

Messi, though, winner of 8 La Liga titles, 4 Champions Leagues, and a record five Ballon d’Ors. With the kind of popularity he has, he’s pretty much a regular on this list.

He endorses quite a number of brands, including Tata Motors, but his biggest deal is with Adidas – and is the face of their footwear line and the biggest global superstar in their ranks.

#8 Rory McIlroy: $13.6 million

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland holds up the Claret Jug trophy after winning the British Open Golf championship at the Royal Liverpool golf club, Hoylake, England, Sunday July 20, 2014.

Rory McIlroy MBE, is the only Northern Irishman on the list. McIlroy has 13 PGA Tour wins under his belt, including 4 major Championships – 2 x PGA Championships, 1 x US Open, 1 x The Open Championship – and has been identified as the most exciting young prospect in golf.

The Golf star has a mega-bucks deal with Nike for their sporting apparel, reportedly $200 million worth and TaylorMade for reportedly 10-years and $100 millions.

#7 Virat Kohli: $14.5 million

New addition to the list and the only cricketer, captain of the Indian cricket team, and the face brand-new Indian sporting persona, Virat Kohli has risen to the unimaginable ranks and he is not letting it go anytime soon.

Kohli, apart from the multitude of Indian records he has, also holds the world record for being the first cricketer to score three centuries in his first three innings as Test captain, being the fastest in the world to reach 30 ODI centuries, 1000 T2OI runs and 15,000 international runs.

The Indian captain has become the face of Indian cricket. He became the first Indian to sign an INR 100 Cr. ($150+ million) contract with a company when he signed up for an 8-year deal with Puma this year, and in fact, the only Indian who is more marketable than Kohli is the King of Bollywood himself, Shah Rukh Khan.

As of September this year, Kohli has endorsement deals with 17 brands.

#6 Tiger Woods: $16.6 million

Tiger Woods, is a name that’s known to everyone and he was once bigger than the game of golf itself. Everyone who follows the sport has admiration for the sheer brilliance of his sporting achievements

Winner of 79 PGA titles (14 Majors) and the second most successful golfer of all time, Woods continues to be a force to reckon with as a sporting brand and despite many big names dropping him he still has mega-bucks deals with TaylorMade and Monster Energy.

#5 Phil Mickelson: $19.6 million

Yet another golfer on the list. Phil Mickelson, the winner of 42 PGA titles – including 5 majors – is the oldest athlete on this list at 47 years old. Although facing a sharp drop in brand value year-on-year, he is still formidable enough to make the top 5 list this year as well.

Mickelson currently endorses KPMG, Rolex, Exxon Mobil, Workday Inc and Callaway Golf. Interestingly he also endorses, Enbrel, the medicine that he says helped him fight arthritis in 2010.

#4 Cristiano Ronaldo: $21.5 million

Cristiano Ronaldo, enjoying a 13.2% increase in his brand value over the last year. He bagged his second consecutive FIFA player of the year Award this year. Earlier this year, his goals powered Real Madrid to their first La Liga triumph in half-a-decade and their third Champions League triumph in 4 years.

Although 32 – an age when most footballers performances go down – Ronaldo’s stock has never been higher. Apart from the whole range of CR7 products, he is the face of Nike’s global marketing campaign and the most marketable footballer on the planet and is one of the biggest celebrities on social media. Just in 2016-17, his sponsors earned $936 million in media value across his social media accounts.

#3 Usain Bolt: $27 million

The fastest man on the planet may have retired, but Usain Bolt is still one of the most marketable athletes on the planet.

The eight-time Olympic Gold medallist’s endorsement deal with Puma has taken the German footwear company to the limelight and has given them an equal stage to fight it out after years of being in the shadow of Adidas and Nike.

Bolt also has a high-profile deal with Gatorade and Virgin Media and endorses a number of products on social media. He boosts a huge fan following on social media as well and is the third most valuable athlete behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar.

#2 LeBron James: $33.4 million

No. 2 in the list is a basketball player. LeBron James, walked out of high-school, and into his city’s NBA franchise – with a $100 million contract with Nike.

In the 14 years since his debut, James has gone on to become one of game’s all-time greats, winning 3 NBA rings, 3 Finals MVP and 4 regular-season MVP awards, and 13 All-Star appearances.

While James has major deals with Audemars Piguet, Coca-Cola, Dunkin’ Brands, McDonald’s, Samsung and State Farm, Nike remains his flagship brand.

A legendary athelete, as well as a clever businessman who has always made the most of his endorsement deals, James looks to be a fixture on this list for a long time to come.

#1 Roger Federer: $37.2 million

They said he was done. Then they said he was past it. And later they changed it to ‘he was too old.’ But Roger Federer came back stronger than ever, and made 2017 a memorable year for sports.

Federer got back to basics, head-down, completely focused, and won 2 Grand Slams this year. He now has 19 Grand Slam titles, and a firm grip on the title of Greatest of All Time.

The Swissman has quite naturally improved his standing as a brand. He has quite a few endorsement deals – with Nike, Credit Suisse, Lindt, Sunrise, Rolex, Jura Elektroapparate and Mercedes Benz.

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About the author


Ali is a sports and a tech writer who works are various websites and loves to write in free time. Cricket is his passion and he has been following the game for quite some time.

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