Athletes don’t only play hard during their games — when it comes to getting their cash, they play even harder. It takes a lot of natural athletic skill and hard work to get endorsements and brand yourself. Here are the athletes that not only made a brand out of themselves but also earned billions with those brands.
#1 Michael Jordan
The former American basketball player, who’s also considered one of the best of all time, tops this list. Michael Jordan dominated the sport from the mid-1980s to the 1990s and earned a whopping $1.85 billion.
At the age of 55, he still retains his longtime endorsements with big brands such as Gatorade, Hanes, and Nike, but that’s not what earned him a $175-million fortune. It was the Hornets’ (previously known as the Charlotte Bobcats) investment that gave him that money. Right now, the team is worth $780 million.
#2 Tiger WoodsThe
The professional golfer promised his dad when he was only nine years old that he would be successful. Now he’s worth $1.7 billion. He is also an entrepreneur, the founder
TGR is a multi-brand enterprise that includes TGR Design, TGR Foundation, and TGR Live. TGR Design is a golf course design firm, and TGR Foundation is a charitable program advocating the health, welfare, and education of kids in the US. TGR Live is an events production company. Tiger Woods also has a lot of sponsors like Bridgestone and Monster Energy.
#3 Arnold Palmer
The professional golfer whose nickname was “The King” had massive career earnings of $1.4 billion. He is still considered one of the best in his sport, and his career spanned more than five decades.
Arnold Palmer passed away in late 2016, but his estate still made $40 million in 2017. There are more than 400 stores in Asia that still sell his branded apparel.
#4 Jack Nicklaus
The American golfer has won six master tournaments and had career earnings of $1.2 billion. Jack Nicklaus also had an interest in
In 2015 alone, the Gold prodigy earned a total of $26 million. Jack Nicklaus also has a business empire that includes real estate, a winery, golf academies, and more.
#5 Michael Schumacher
The professional retired German car racer with career earnings of $1 billion is also known as the “Formula One.”
Phil Mickelson showed interest in golf when he was only a toddler, and he’s had career earnings of $815 million. He has a lot of endorsements with high-end brands like Amgen, KPMG, Rolex, and the Greenbrier.
#7.1 Kobe Bryant
The Pennsylvanian native who joined the NBA straight out of high school is worth $800 million. The basketball star had the highest NBA salary in the last six seasons of his career
The all-time favorite British soccer sensation has career earnings of $800 million, tying him with basketball star Kobe Bryant. Beckham signed a five-year $250-million contract with LA Galaxy, an American soccer franchise based in Los Angeles, California
Beckham announced his retirement in May 2013, due to his royalty deal with Global Brands Group and others. Global Brands Group is a company that creates David Beckham Merchandise.
The professional boxer, who is one of the best in the world, is worth $785 million — and that’s not counting his earnings from his fight with Conor McGregor. If you include his paycheck from that certain fight, Mayweather will shoot up to sixth place with a net worth of $1 billion.
The seven-foot-tall former NBA player is worth $735 million. Shaquille O’ Neal retired in 2011 and is now an on-screen league analyst. When O’Neal was still a pro basketball player, he had a low-cost sneaker line that was worth $120 million.
The basketball star who skipped college to join the NBA is worth $730 million. Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James is the NBA’s top pitchman, with a lot of brands under his belt. He added Intel and Verizon, among others, to his portfolio this year.
He already has Nike, Coca-Cola, Beats by Dre, and Kia Motor in his endorsement portfolio. James also owns shares in 17 Blaze Pizzas, one of the fastest-growing food and service businesses in the United States.
The Portuguese soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has career earnings of $725 million. He started out when he was only 16 and is now rising up in the charts as one of the highest-paid athletes in the world.
He has moved into a new phase of his career by signing with Italian Serie A club Juventus. His earnings have made him the highest-paid soccer player for four years. Ronaldo also claimed the title of the highest-paid professional athlete in 2017.
#13 Greg Norman
The Australian golfer, who is also known as the “The Great White Shark,” has career earnings of $705 million. Norman sold his future licensing to Authentic Brand Groups last March. However, his company still has control over his real estates and course design operations.
The former boxing champion, who also appeared in films, is worth $700 million and was the youngest heavyweight champion in boxing history. He had $400 million in earnings before he filed for bankruptcy in 2013.
Then, at the age of 51, he made a comeback as an actor. He also has business partnerships revolving around gaming, motorcycles, and fitness centers.
#15 Roger Federer
Roger Federer is one of the greatest tennis players in the world and has career earnings of $675 million. Currently, he has the highest career prize money earnings in men’s tennis, racking up almost $118 million from tournaments on the ATP World Tour
- Forbes – The 25 Highest-Paid Athletes Of All Time.