The Richest Athlete Endorsements Ever

Nick Dimengo@@itsnickdimengoFeatured ColumnistMarch 13, 2014

The Richest Athlete Endorsements Ever

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    As great as being a professional athlete has to be—getting paid a lot of money to play a sport for a living—it's a ton better when a company decides someone is talented, smart and charismatic enough to represent their business.

    And over the years, there have been some serious endorsement deals that have secured financial stability for those athletes lucky enough to sign on the dotted line.

    But which ones have been the richest? I'm here to tell you—so be prepared to get really jealous.

Kevin Durant (Nike)

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    Marc Lecureuil/Getty Images

    Contract Details: 7-year, $60 million.

    As one of the most lethal scorers in the NBA, Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star Kevin Durant seems to get his points as often as he wants.

    And Durant flushed home some more points back in 2007 for scoring a deal with Nike that pays him $8.5 million a year.

    With his current deal set to expire in the next year, I'm sure Nike will do its best to hold on to one of the best players on the planet, tossing even more cash for KD to slam down—into his bank account, that is.

Sidney Crosby (Reebok)

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    Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images

    Contract Details: A reported 7-year, $70 million.

    Most of us are familiar with the $90 million that Nike served to LeBron James before he stepped foot on an NBA court, and Reebok did the same thing with hockey phenom Sidney Crosby back in 2005 before he laced his skates in the NHL.

    The Pittsburgh Penguins superstar has shown to be the face of the league—when healthy—already hoisting a Stanley Cup (2009) and winning a league MVP (2007), which is just one reason why Reebok felt it OK to give the kid a multimillion dollar deal back then—which he has since extended to earn nearly $10 million a year.

    Hoping for the same success, Reebok has done the same thing with next year's projected top pick, reportedly close to signing Connor McDavid to a huge endorsement deal.

Kobe Bryant (Nike)

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    Wong Maye-E/Associated Press

    Contract Details: A reported $8 million annually.

    After leaving Adidas for the Swoosh back in 2003, L.A. Lakers star Kobe Bryant has remained with Nike ever since, with the company investing serious dollars and marketing campaigns for the five-time NBA champ.

    How much?

    Initially signing a five-year deal worth around $40 million in 2003, The Mamba has re-upped with the company since, banking on his popularity around the globe and his creative Kobe System commercials.

Maria Sharapova (Nike)

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    Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

    Contract Details: A reported 8-year, $70 million.

    On top of being one of the sexiest athletes on the planet, Maria Sharapova has shown to be just as hot on the tennis court, winning four Grand Slam titles in her career thus far.

    The current No. 5-ranked player in the world, Nike has invested some money in hoping Sharapova stays near the top, giving her $70 million over the next eight years to be the face of the brand in women's tennis.

    It's quite the face to look at, so I'm personally giving the thumbs-up on this business deal.

Cristiano Ronaldo (Nike)

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    Paul Gilham/Getty Images

    Contract Details: A reported $11 million annually for the next five years.

    Last year was really good for Real Madrid and Portuguese national team star Cristiano Ronaldo—but let's be honest. Isn't he solid every year?

    Last year proved to be even better, though, as CR7 not only received a gnarly five-year deal with his Real Madrid club, but just a few weeks later landed himself a deal that pays him a reported $11 million per year for the same half decade.

    Whoever Ronaldo's agent is, I'd really like him to rep me someday.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal (Nike)

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    Andrew Brownbill/Associated Press

    Contract Details: Both earning a reported $10 million annually.

    Two of the most dominating tennis players on the planet, Nike figured it wouldn't dispute who was better, instead equally giving both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal the same $10 million a year endorsement deal.

    Seeing how the two have either reached or won a major title more often than other players, it seems like a sound investment.

Johnny Manziel (Nike)

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Contract Deals: Undisclosed (But reportedly the largest deal given to an NFL rookie).

    Outgoing Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel probably isn't getting as much cash as some of these other guys on my list, but even so, it's still a record-breaking amount for an NFL rookie.

    Although no details have been announced officially, Johnny Football was able to scramble his way into Nike headquarters to net himself the biggest deal ever signed by a rookie football player, meaning the former Heisman winner will be Swooshing his way past defenders in more ways than one once he does play his first game.

Usain Bolt (Puma)

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    Matt Dunham/Associated Press

    Contract Details: An estimated $10 million annually.

    There are plenty of people who often say they hate running, but for Jamaican Olympic sprinter and gold medalist Usain Bolt, he's probably pretty happy he got into the sport.

    Not only has he proven to be the fastest man in the world, but because of all of that success, he has received a ton of cash from Puma, who slowed him down enough to sign a gigantic deal with the brand.

    That's a lot of money for running just a few seconds per race.

Derek Jeter (Jordan Brand/Nike)

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    Contract Details: A reported 10-year, $100 million.

    Winning five World Series rings, having the title of Captain for the New York Yankees and being one of the best players of the past 20 years has its perks.

    On top of all of his on-field success and earnings, Yanks shortstop Derek Jeter has cleaned moneyball's hit quite cleanly as well, signing a 10-year, $100 million deal with Nike and Jordan Brand.

    He may be retiring at season's end, but DJ will be set financially for years on years on years.

LeBron James (Nike)

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    Issac Baldizon/Getty Images

    Contract Details: An original 7-year, $90 million deal, with a new, reported $10 million annually in 2010.

    In a nearly unprecedented move at the time, Nike handed $90 million to LeBron James before he was even selected in the NBA draft back in 2003.

    Looks like it was a good move.

    After his seven-year deal was up in 2010, Bron re-signed with the company for an undisclosed amount, though it's believed to be in the $10 million a year range.

    That's a small price to pay, seeing how LeBron has been the face of the brand since entering the league 10 seasons ago.

Dwyane Wade (Li-Ning)

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    Contract Details: An estimated two to five-percent stake and nearly $10 million annually.

    Many may have scratched their heads when three-time NBA champion Dwyane Wade walked away from Michael Jordan to sign with little-known Chinese company Li-Ning in 2012.

    It turns out that D-Wade spoke a different language than we did—and it wasn't Chinese.

    No, it came in the sweet whispers of millions of dollars, as the company may have given him less money up front, but for Wade's commitment and good faith, the company tossed a hell of a lot of stake at him—as in enough that could earn him $250 million over the life of the deal.

David Beckham (Adidas)

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    Chris Pizzello/Associated Press

    Contract Details: A reported $160 million, lifetime deal.

    He had the look, the skill and the global impact every single company would ever want in an athlete endorser, so it's obvious to see why Adidas gave huge money to former soccer star and game ambassador David Beckham.

    Becks may have never led his native England to a World Cup title, but he did win the world's biggest deal for a soccer player, getting more than $160 million from Adidas in 2003, which included his own branded gear and a rare, supposed lifetime agreement.

Tiger Woods (Nike)

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    Hong Wu/Getty Images

    Contract Details: Undisclosed amount, believed to be near $20 million annually.

    Anytime someone thinks about Nike Golf, the name Tiger Woods is most likely the one who first comes to mind.

    That's because the 14-time major champ personally took the Swoosh to a whole new level on the links, single-handedly making it what it is today.

    For his efforts, it's no surprise the company has tossed millions of dollars Tiger's way, signing him to numerous deals over the course of his career, sticking by him through the infidelity admission in 2010 and giving him an undisclosed amount of cash in 2013—which is believed to be $20 million a year.

Allen Iverson (Reebok)

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    Thos Robinson/Getty Images

    Contract Details: A reported $10 million annually and a lifetime contract.

    It has been a bummer to hear the news that former NBA All-Star and one-time league MVP Allen Iverson has gone through some money issues in the past few years, but before showing any sympathy, just know this—A.I. has a lifetime deal with Reebok he is set to cash in on.

    On top of getting a deal worth about $10 million a year back in 2001, Iverson received the rare lifetime contract, meaning he is still getting a few checks from the brand.

    And when I say a few checks, I don't mean the type my grandma sends for my birthday—specifically, ones that have a lot of digits on them.

    In fact, while he may claim to be broke now, thanks to a very smart friend, Allen is getting about $1 million annually until he's 55, which then opens up a $32 million fund waiting for him.

    That sounds pretty nice.

Derrick Rose (Adidas)

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    Lennart Preiss/Getty Images

    Contract Details: A reported 14-year, $260 million.

    Battling injuries the past couple seasons may have kept Chicago Bulls superstar and 2011 NBA MVP Derrick Rose off the court, but that doesn't mean he wasn't making serious coin wearing street clothes.

    That came courtesy of his endorsement deal with Adidas, who put full faith in the guy to help challenge Nike and take the three-striped brand to the next level, guaranteeing Rose at least $185 million with a chance to reach $260 million.

    Rose is one of the best point guards in the league when healthy, so regardless of him potentially losing money from the company should he not return to form, here's to him getting back to normal next season.

Rory McIlroy (Nike)

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    Eugene Hoshiko/Associated Press

    Contract Details: A reported 10-year, $250 million.

    Winning two major titles in 2011 and 2012—U.S. Open and PGA Championship—golfer Rory McIlroy proved to be a rising star on tour.

    That was just one reason why Nike decided to try to hit an ace by wrapping the 24-year-old to a massive endorsement deal, inking McIlroy to a reported 10-year, $250 million deal back in January of 2013.

    Though terms weren't officially released, adding or subtracting a few millions from a number that huge is a mere technicality.

    Bottom line—he gets paid.

George Foreman (Salton, Inc.)

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Contract Details: Has earned an expected $200 million over the life of the contract.

    Former heavyweight champion George Foreman may not have stepped in a ring since 1997, but that doesn't mean he isn't still counting his dollars.

    We've probably all at least heard of the George Foreman Grill—with more than a few of us relying on the thing to survive in college—and thanks to that little fat-reducing machine, Foreman has upped his net worth considerably.

    With the company who makes the grill—Salton, Inc.—signing Foreman in 1995, he has reportedly netted more than $200 million since then, making him the moneybags champ of the world.

Michael Jordan (Nike)

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    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    Contract Details: Around $80 million annually.

    Although no one probably foresaw something this big happening, everyone should now understand why so many people wanted to "Be Like Mike" growing up.

    On top of earning more than $90 million in salary over the course of his career, Michael Jordan has raked in serious dough from numerous endorsements—most notably with Nike—who has even given the G.O.A.T. his own subdivision of the company with Jordan Brand.

    It's no wonder the guy is a billionaire.


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