The Highest-Paid Athlete Endorsers, 25-1

Highest Paid Athlete Endorsers, 25-1

In case you missed it, here are numbers 100-76, 75-51 and 50-26 of the countdown thus far. This week we finish the countdown with numbers 25-1 of the highest-paid athlete endorsers.


Carmelo Anthony25. Carmelo Anthony | NBA | New York Knicks

Yearly Endorsement Earnings: $9,000,000

Twitter Followers: 4,015,152

Follower Value: $2.24

 opendorse reasoning: Melo took the nation by storm when he led Syracuse to the National Championship in 2003. Since joining the NBA, he has earned 6 All-Star selections and led the NBA in scoring last season. At the 2012 Summer Olympics, Anthony set the Team USA single game scoring record by scoring 37 points against Nigeria. His scoring throughout the tournament helped lead Team USA to a gold medal. Anthony’s off court swag led to an endorsement with Haute Time, which features Melo’s watch of the day. He also has endorsements with Jordan Brand, Samsung, PowerCoco and Mission Power Grip.  

Valentino Rossi24. Valentino Rossi | MotoGP World Championship | Yamaha

Yearly Endorsement Earnings: $10,000,000

Twitter Followers: 2,363,884

Follower Value: $4.23

opendorse reasoning: Rossi is arguably the most successful motorcycle racer of all time. The Italian racer has six MotoGP World Championships and ranks first all-time in 500cc/MotoGP with 80 victories. “The Doctor” has endorsements with Oakley, Monster Energy Drinks and fittingly with Yamaha and Bridgestone.


Neymar23. Neymar | La Liga | Futbol Club Barcelona

Yearly Endorsement Earnings: $10,000,000

Twitter Followers: 9,172,417

Follower Value: $1.09

opendorse reasoning: Neymar is considered the best player from one the most soccer rich countries in the world, Brazil. In 2012 and 2013, SportsPro named Neymar the World’s Most Marketable Athlete thanks in large part to his talent and superstar status. “He’s everything a brand would want in an endorser and all the signs are his career has not even peaked yet,” said SportsPro’s editor-in-chief David Cushnan. Neymar has a long line of endorsements including: Nike, Red Bull, Unilever NV,  Volkswagen and Konami.


Drew Brees & Marques Colston | New Orleans Saints22. Drew Brees | NFL | New Orleans Saints

Yearly Endorsement Earnings: $11,000,000

Twitter Followers: 1,768,736

Follower Value: $6.22

opendorse reasoning: Brees has one of the best arms in football. Since 2006, he has led all NFL quarterbacks in total passing yards, touchdowns and completions. In 2009, Drew Brees was named Super Bowl MVP after leading the Saints to their first ever Super Bowl victory. He has seven Pro Bowl selections and in 2011 he set the record for passing yards in a single season. Brees has endorsements with Advocare, Nike, Wrangler, Vicks and TRX Training.


Peyton Manning | Denver Broncos21. Peyton Manning | NFL | Denver Broncos

Yearly Endorsement Earnings: $12,000,000

Twitter Followers: Not currently on Twitter

Follower Value: N/A

opendorse reasoning: Manning is considered one of the best quarterbacks to ever play football. He is a four-time NFL MVP, 12-time Pro Bowler, a Super Bowl Champion and Super Bowl MVP. Most recently Peyton was named Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated. Peyton’s down to earth persona and sense of humor has made him one of the most marketable American athletes ever! His endorsements are consistently some of the funniest around, and he has even made an appearance on Saturday Night Live. “The Sheriff” has endorsements with Reebok, Papa John’s, Gatorade, DirecTV, Wheaties and Buick.


Serena Williams20. Serena Williams | WTA

Yearly Endorsement Earnings: $12,000,000

Twitter Followers: 4,042,595

Follower Value: $2.97

opendorse reasoning: Serena holds the most major singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles combined amongst active players, male or female. She is the reigning French Open, US Open, WTA Tour Champion and Olympic Womens’ Singles Champion. She is currently ranked number one in the world in women’s singles tennis, making her the oldest player ever to hold that honor. Serena has endorsements with Gatorade, Wilson and her own line of products with Nike.


P1010142.jpg19. Dwyane Wade | NBA | Miami Heat

Yearly Endorsement Earnings: $12,000,000

Twitter Followers: 4,205,902

Follower Value: $2.85

opendorse reasoning: According to Wade, he is a father first and then an athlete and champion. His two greatest gifts are his two sons, Zaire and Zion. On the court, “Flash” has three NBA Championships, one NBA Finals MVP and nine NBA All-Star selections. His style, wit and charm led to a partnership with The Tie Bar, in which Wade designs his own collection of bow ties, neck ties and pocket squares. Wade’s vast endorsement portfolio also includes deals with Dove, Gatorade and Li-Ning who produce Wade’s signature sneakers.


Dale Earnhardt Jr18. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. | NASCAR Sprint Cup Series | Hendrick Motorsports

Yearly Endorsement Earnings: $13,000,000

Twitter Followers: Not currently on Twitter

Follower Value: N/A

opendorse reasoning: The Earnhardt name and NASCAR go hand in hand. Dale Jr. is the son of NASCAR Hall of Famer, Dale Earnhardt, Sr. and the grandson of NASCAR driver, Ralph Earnhardt. Junior was voted the Sprint Cup Series Most Popular Driver by fans ten years in a row from 2003-2012. In 2004, he won the Daytona 500. Dale Jr. teams up with Wrangler, Diet Mountain Dew, Hellmann’s and Chevrolet.


Novak Djokovic17. Novak Djokovic | ATP World Tour

Yearly Endorsement Earnings: $14,000,000

Twitter Followers: 2,523,936

Follower Value: $5.55

opendorse reasoning: The Serbian tennis star has won seven Grand Slam singles. At age 26, Novak already has 41 titles and is currently ranked number two in the world. He won the ATP World Tour Player of the Year in 2011 and 2012. Many already consider him one of the greats of the game. Djokovic has endorsements with Mercedes-Benz, Uniqlo, Head and Serbian telecommunications company Telekom Srbija.


Kevin Durant16. Kevin Durant | NBA | Oklahoma City Thunder

Yearly Endorsement Earnings: $14,000,000

Twitter Followers: 5,440,205

Follower Value: $2.57

opendorse reasoning: KD is a three-time NBA single season scoring champion. He can score and make plays from anywhere on the court. Off the court, Durant is known for his refreshingly rare sense of humility, philanthropy and amiability. For example, in 2013, he donated one million dollars to the American Red Cross to aid victims of the 2013 Moore tornado that devastated parts of Oklahoma. His biggest endorsement is with Nike, who produces KD’s signature line of basketball shoes and apparel. Durant also has endorsements with Foot Locker, Gatorade, Sprint and 2K Sports.


Li Na15. Li Na | WTA

Yearly Endorsement Earnings: $15,000,000

Twitter Followers: Not currently on Twitter

Follower Value: N/A

opendorse reasoning: Na is the most successful Asian tennis player ever, having won seven WTA singles titles. Li elevated to stardom after she won the 2011 French Open singles title. The win made her the first and only Grand Slam singles champion from an Asian country. Na is only one of four athletes to be named to Time’s list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World, in which former WTA world number one Chris Evert wrote: “Tennis has exploded in China. The country now has some 15 million tennis players; 116 million people watched Li win the French Open. That kind of exposure is crucial to our sport, and it never would have happened without Li. At tournaments, I’ve seen her charm the crowds. When she smiles, everyone melts. She’s such a breath of fresh air. And like Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova before her, Li Na has transcended her sport.” Li has endorsements with Rolex, Nike, Häagen-Dazs, Mercedes-Benz, Taikang Life, Samsung and Babolat.


Ernie Els driving on hole #514. Ernie Els | PGA Tour

Yearly Endorsement Earnings: $16,000,000

Twitter Followers: Not currently on Twitter

Follower Value: N/A

opendorse reasoning: Ernie has 70 professional career victories including four Major Championships, two World Golf Championships and seven World Matchplay titles. In 2011, “The Big Easy” was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Els also owns Ernie Els Design, an award winning golf course design company.He has endorsements with Callaway, Boeing, SAP and Royal Bank of Canada.


Rory McIlroy13. Rory McIlroy | PGA Tour

Yearly Endorsement Earnings: $16,000,000

Twitter Followers: 1,785,708

Follower Value: $8.96

opendorse reasoning: McIlroy is one of the most promising prospects in golf and has the potential to become one of the highest earning athlete endorsers. “Rors” set a record score of 16 under par on his way to winning the 2011 U.S. Open. He then won the 2012 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island by a record eight strokes for his second major championship victory. Rory’s largest endorsement is with Nike and he also has deals with Omega, Bose and Banco Santander.


Lionel Messi at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ12. Lionel Messi | La Liga | Futbol Club Barcelona

Yearly Endorsement Earnings: $21,000,000

Twitter Followers: Not currently on Twitter

Follower Value: N/A

opendorse reasoning: Messi is currently the best soccer player in the world and one of the greatest players to ever play the game! The Argentine forward has won three consecutive FIFA Ballon d’Or awards, given annually to the player who is considered to have performed the best throughout the year. In 2012, he set the record for most goals in a European club season by scoring 73 goals. That same year he became the first player to score five goals in a single UEFA Champions League match. He has won numerous championships including three UEFA Champions League titles, six La Ligas and two Copas del Rey. Messi’s largest endorsement is with Adidas, who recently launched his own signature footwear and apparel line. He is also a global ambassador with Turkish Airlines and has endorsements with Pepsi, EA Sports and Procter & Gamble.


Derrick Rose11. Derrick Rose | NBA | Chicago Bulls

Yearly Endorsement Earnings: $21,000,000

Twitter Followers: 1,782,402

Follower Value: $11.78

opendorse reasoning: “DRose” was the number one overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft and went on to win Rookie of the Year honors in 2009. Rose is a three-time NBA All-Star and in 2011 he was named NBA MVP, becoming the youngest player in NBA history to win the award. His most lucrative endorsement is with Adidas, who produces his signature line of basketball shoes and apparel. Rose also has endorsements with 2K Sports, Skullcandy, Wilson and Powerade.


Rafael Nadal10. Rafael Nadal | ATP WorldTour

Yearly Endorsement Earnings: $21,000,000

Twitter Followers: 5,401,769

Follower Value: $3.89

opendorse reasoning: “Rafa” has won 13 Grand Slam singles titles and a Men’s Singles Olympic Gold medal. Nadal is only the second men’s tennis player to complete the Career Golden Slam (win all four Grand Slam tournaments and the Olympic gold medal during a career). He is considered the best clay court player and his dominance on clay earned him the nickname “King of Clay.” Nadal has endorsements with Nike, Bacardi, Richard Mille, Quely and Kia Motors.


Cristiano Ronaldo9. Cristiano Ronaldo | La Liga | Real Madrid

Yearly Endorsement Earnings: $21,000,000

Twitter Followers: 22,811,741

Follower Value: $0.92

opendorse reasoning: Ronaldo has the most Twitter followers of any athlete on this list; making his marketing reach seem endless. He is the most popular soccer player in the world and arguably the best current player. In 2008, Cristiano won the Ballon d’Or and was also named FIFA Player of the Year. He has won two European Gold Shoe awards, awarded to the top goalscorer in league matches from the top division of European national leagues. He owns a fashion boutique, “CR7” and his style and model like-looks have led to endorsements with Emporio Armani and Jacob Arabo. Ronaldo also has endorsements with Nike, Coca-Cola, Castrol, Konami, KFC and Banco Espirito Santo.


Maria Sharapova8. Maria Sharapova | WTA

Yearly Endorsement Earnings: 23,000,000

Twitter Followers: 696,820

Follower Value: $33.01

opendorse reasoning: Sharapova’s athletic achievements combined with her appearance has made her the top female athlete endorser. Sharapova has won 29 WTA singles titles including four Grand Slam singles titles. She is the sixth woman in the history of tennis to complete the singles career grand slam. Sharapova’s off court style led to endorsement deals with Cole Haan and Tag Heuer. She also has endorsements with Nike, Samsung, Porsche, Head and Evian.


Usain Bolt7. Usain Bolt | Racers Track Club

Yearly Endorsement Earnings: $24,000,000

Twitter Followers: 3,144,464

Follower Value: $7.63

opendorse reasoning: Bolt is the fastest human ever. He holds the 100 and 200 meter world records, as well as the 4×100 meter relay world record along with his teammates. The Jamaican sprinter is a six-time Olympic gold medalist. His signature “To Di World” victory pose has become a worldwide photo fad. His fun, cool and exciting, but still relaxed and laid-back personality makes him likeable and relatable to anyone. Bolt’s largest endorsement is with Puma and he also has endorsements with Gatorade, Comcast, Nissan, Samsung and Visa.


Mahendra Singh Dhoni (India)6. Mahendra Singh Dhoni | ODI | India

Yearly Endorsement Earnings: $28,000,000

Twitter Followers: 2,540,706

Follower Value: $11.02

opendorse reasoning: Dhoni is the captain of the Indian national cricket team and one of the nation’s biggest celebrities. The right handed batsman and wicketkeeper is widely regarded as one of the greatest finishers in cricket. After taking over the ODI captaincy in 2007, he led India to its first ever bilateral ODI series wins in Sri Lanka and New Zealand. In 2008 and 2009, Mahendra was awarded ICC ODI Player of the Year. In the final of the 2011 World Cup, Dhoni led India to victory and was named Man of the Match. “Mahi” has endorsements with Pepsi, Reebok and United Breweries Group just to name a few.


Kobe Bryant5. Kobe Bryant | NBA | Los Angeles Lakers

Yearly Endorsement Earnings: $34,000,000

Twitter Followers: 3,792,354

Follower Value: $8.97

opendorse reasoning: Kobe is one of the biggest athlete endorsers, ever! On the court he has done it ALL including: five NBA Championships, two NBA Finals MVP awards, one regular season NBA MVP, 15 All-Star selections, 11 All-NBA First Team selections and nine NBA All-Defensive First Team selections. His charismatic personality and million dollar smile are a perfect fit for Los Angeles, where he can frequently be seen making television appearances. Kobe has endorsements with Nike, Coca-Cola, Panini, Lenovo and Smart Car.


LeBron James4. LeBron James | NBA | Miami Heat

Yearly Endorsement Earnings: $42,000,000

Twitter Followers: 10,508,656

Follower Value: $4.00

opendorse reasoning: LeBron. Just say his first name and everyone instantly knows who you are referring to. His on court success combined with his off court popularity make him an endorsement dream. King James has two NBA Championships, two NBA Finals MVP awards, nine All-Star selections, four regular season NBA MVP awards and an Olympic gold medal. He has many endorsements including: Nike, Powerade, McDonald’s, Baskin-Robbins, Samsung and Dunkin’ Brands. Still not convinced he is worth the hype? Here are some more reasons King James warrants his endorsement earnings.


Phil Mickelson at Muirfield Village3. Phil Mickelson | PGA Tour

Yearly Endorsement Earnings: $44,000,000

Twitter Followers: Not currently on Twitter

Follower Value: N/A

opendorse reasoning: His laid back Southern California vibe and his smooth left handed stroke have made him a fan favorite. Mickelson has 42 PGA Tour wins and five Major Championships, including three Masters Tournament green jackets. As a result, “Lefty” was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2012. In 2010, he picked up a deal to endorse psoriatic arthritis drug, Enbrel, after he was diagnosed with the disease and began using the drug for his treatment. He also teams up with Callaway, KPMG, Rolex, ExxonMobil and Barclays.


Roger Federer2. Roger Federer | ATP

Yearly Endorsement Earnings: $65,000,000

Twitter Followers: 1,084,348

Follower Value: $59.94

opendorse reasoning: Federer is regarded by many to be the greatest tennis player ever. He has held the world’s number one position for 302 weeks throughout his career; including a stretch of 237 consecutive weeks. Federer has won 17 Grand Slam Singles titles, the most of any player ever. He has also won the ATP World Tour Fans’ Favourite Award a record eleven times straight. Federer’s athletic success and humble demeanor have made him one of the most likeable players and a marketing juggernaut. The Swede has endorsements with Swiss companies Rolex, Credit Sussie, Lindt and Jura Elektroapparate. He also has deals with Nike, Gillette, Wilson, Moët & Chandon and Mercedes-Benz.


Tiger Woods1. Tiger Woods | PGA Tour

Yearly Endorsement Earnings: $65,000,000

Twitter Followers: 3,699,787

Follower Value: $17.57

opendorse reasoning: opendorse has named Woods is the highest earning athlete endorser for many reasons. He is one of the greatest golfers ever to play the game, well spoken and his smile can light up an entire room. Tiger’s accomplishments have made him one of the most recognizable faces in the entire world! Tiger is second all-time in PGA Tour wins and third all-time in European Tour wins. He has 14 Major Championships and has been awarded PGA Player of the Year a record of eleven times. He is the youngest player to achieve the career Grand Slam and has completed the accomplishment three times. Woods has a long term endorsement deal with Nike, which produces his signature golf clubs, shoes and apparel. Woods also has deals with Rolex, Fuse Science, Upper Deck, Kowa and NetJets. Tiger is easily one of the most marketable athletes of all time and tops the leaderboard for the highest paid athlete endorser.


End of 4th Quarter


There you have it – our list of the 100 Highest-Paid Athlete Endorsers.

We’ve seen a wide range of professional athletes who earn large endorsement deals for many different reasons and for many different brands and industries.

Think we’ve missed an athlete who deserves to be on the list? Let us know.


Are you thinking about using an athlete endorser for your brand? Great! You can sign up for free with opendorse and easily start creating your own athlete endorsements today.

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