Yes some athletes have very big salaries, but the real money in sports is not gained in the field. It is in the endorsement deals.
This notion started when Honus Wagner allowed his replicated signature on the bats of Hillerich & Bradsby in 1905. It would be best to find out who are the top earners of the sports endorsement industry. This can be measured according to who got the biggest endorsement deals last year.
Here are the top earning athletes based on their endorsement deals:
10. Rafael Nadal ($21 million) is the number one tennis player who knows just how much the giant sports apparel company Nike pays. He has had endorsement deals with Nike since 2006. Besides Nike, he also has deals with Kia, Bacardi and Quely.
9. Cristiano Ronaldo ($21 million) is one of the most phenomenal football players playing for Real Madrid. He has endorsement deals with Coca-Cola, Armani, Emporio, Castrol, and even KFC.
8. Maria Sharapova ($23 million) is the only woman in the list. She is considered as one of the best female tennis players in the world. She has endorsement deals with Nike, Porsche, Evian water, Canon, and Head.
7. Usain Bolt ($24 million) is a Jamaican six-time Olympic Gold Medalist in the 100-meter and 200-meter dash. He got endorsement deals with Puma ever since 2003. He also has endorsement deals with Comcast, Visa, and Gatoraide.
6. Mahendra Singh Dhoni ($28 million) is a cricket player with endorsement deals with Pepsi, Rebook, GE Money, and Brylcreem.
5. Kobe Bryant ($34 million) is an NBA superstar who has countless endorsement deals with Nike. He also has deals with Lenovo and Smart Car. Even his injuries are used for advertisements.
4. LeBron James ($42 million) is another basketball superstar in this list. He has great endorsement deals with Nike, Poweraide, and Samsung. James is one of the biggest names in the NBA right now, and he is very profitable for most of the endorsers.
3. Phil Mickelson ($44 million) is one of the most influential golf players who have endorsement deals with Rolex, Barclays and Callaway
2. Roger Federer ($65 million) is another tennis player on the list. He has endorsements with Nike, Gillette, Mercedes-Benz, and Moet & Chandon.
1. Tiger Woods ($65 million) is one of the best golf players in the world and still one of the most marketable athletes. He has deals with, of course, just like most of the athletes in the list, Nike. He also has deals with Rolex, Fuse Science, and Upper Deck.