“We can confirm that we have agreed to a lifetime relationship with LeBron that provides significant value to our business, brand and shareholders.”
Last night, Nike announced the biggest athlete endorsement deal in their history, by confirming they had signed a lifetime deal with four time NBA MVP, LeBron James. The Cleveland Cavaliers forward became only the second Nike athlete in history to sign a lifetime endorsement deal – following in the footsteps of former NBA All-Star, Michael Jordan.
With 2015 coming to a close, we take a look at some of the biggest athlete endorsement deals of the past year.
Rory McIlroy (Golf) – Endorsement Worth: $32 Million
Endorsements: EA Sports, Nike & Bose.
The golden child of Golf, Rory McIlroy is leading the way for the UK when it comes to endorsements. Rory boasts a remarkable record of 11 PGA Tour wins and 12 European Tour wins across four major championships, despite only being 26 years of age. In 2015, Rory signed a deal to be the face of EA Sports PGA Tour games – taking the mantle from fellow pro, Tiger Woods.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Cricket) – Endorsement Worth: $27 Million
Endorsements: Pepsi, Reebok & Gulf Oil.
The Asian market is the fastest growing in sport. With an ever increasing population, booster rights deals and club investment, sports endorsement deals are hitting the highs of those across America and Europe. As the face of Indian cricket, Mahendra Singh Dhoni has tied up deals with Pepsi, Reebok & Gulf Oil, making him one of the top 10 sports endorsement earners in the world.
Novak Djokovic (Tennis) – Endorsement Worth: $31 Million
Endorsements: Adidas, Uniqlo & Mercedes-Benz.
He might not be considered one of the best ever (yet!), but Novak Djokovic is on the verge of Tennis stardom. His outstanding record of 18 Grand Slam Finals in 9 years, with 10 wins has earned him endorsement deals with the likes of Adidas, Uniqlo and Mercedes-Benz worth an estimated £31million.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Football) – Endorsement Worth: $27 Million
Endorsements: Nike, Samsung, Konami & CR7.
Surprisingly, Cristiano Ronaldo is the only footballer to make the top 10 highest endorsement earners of 2015. His own personalised ‘CR7’ brand is expected to grow significantly in the coming years and add to his $27million fortune he currently receives from Nike, Konami and Samsung. If Ronaldo can pip rival Lionel Messi to the FIFA Ballon d’Or, we wouldn’t be surprised to see this figure rise.
Tiger Woods (Golf) – Endorsement Worth: $50 Million
Endorsements: Nike & Rolex.
He may have made the headlines for the wrong reasons, but this hasn’t put off the likes of Nike, Rolex or Muscle Pharm from throwing money at the one time great. Whilst his performances on the course haven’t been the best this year, his profitability for brands has continued to increase, making Tiger one of the highest endorsement earners across the globe.
LeBron James (Basketball) – Endorsement Worth: $???
Endorsements: Nike, Samsung, McDonald’s & Coca-Cola.
With his new lifetime Nike deal in the bag, we can’t actually get a true figure of the four-time MVP’s worth. Forbes reported pre-Nike deal that LeBron’s endorsement deals with the likes of Samsung, McDonalds and Coca-Cola were worth $44million. Add the new Nike deal to this and we could well have found our highest endorsement earner of 2015.
*All figures taken from Forbes.com