Athletes often become brand ambassadors to earn additional income from their success in sports. A certain athlete’s endorsement of a product can lead to an increase in sales for that product or products. Because of their success, personality, or charisma, sports personalities make great endorsers of sports-related companies, such as the likes of Nike and Adidas.
Many athletes are also paid to endorse beauty products, fashion lines, nutritional products, sportsbooks, electronic gaming developers, and even hotels and gyms. Furthermore, many athletes and celebrities also engage in business ventures, including buying stakes in companies or investing in start-ups. Some sports personalities also start their own companies, such as media companies and fashion brands.
Here are the highest-earning athletes off the field, from tennis stars to NFL legends. It’s not only sports stars who make money through business though. There are many celebrities who engage in business ventures, and we’ve revealed the biggest celebrity entrepreneurs below.
Athletes who earned the most from business in 2022
Roger Federer - Sport - Tennis
Off-Field Earnings - $90,000,000
Roger Federer's unmatched sponsor portfolio netted him a cool $90 million in 2022 and earned him the title of the world's highest-paid athlete in 2020. Interestingly, Roger Federer made just $0.7 million from his tennis tournament winnings last year. Federer’s off-court earnings include a ten-year deal with Uniqlo, earning him $30 million a year. While his off-court earnings are also pretty impressive, his biggest payday may still be on its way. Federer has a stake in Swiss company On, which went public in 2021.
LeBron James Sport - Basketball
Off-Field Earnings - $80,000,000
With an estimated net worth of $1 billion, LeBron James is one of the highest-earning athletes of today. Over 2022, James earned $80 million from off-court business ventures and endorsements, taking him to a total lifetime off-court earnings of $900 million. LeBron James has deals with PepsiCo, Walmart, Beats by Dre, and Blaze Pizza, alongside a lifetime sponsor with Nike.
Tiger Woods - Sport - Golf
Off-Field Earnings - $68,000,000
Despite sustaining serious injuries in a car accident in 2021, Woods made a return to competitive golf at the Masters in 2022. While in the hospital, Woods secured a lucrative deal with the PGA Tour 2K video game franchise to add his likeness to the game. Since he began his career in 1996, Woods has earned a massive $1.7 billion from endorsements, appearances, and off-course business endeavors. Woods earned a healthy $68 million off-course in 2022. Woods also has his own signature set of irons, released in 2019.
NFL players who earned the most from business in 2022
NFL players spend long hours training, competing and traveling for their teams. But many also supplement their on-field income with off-field activities, such as brand endorsements, media deals and other business ventures. While not all NFL players have the same opportunities to make additional money, some've been able to capitalize on their fame and fortune to create huge wealth. Here are the top 3 NFL players who have had incredible off-field earnings in 2022
Tom Brady - $52,000,000 Off-Field Earnings
Brady earned a massive $52 million from off-field endeavors last year, the most of any NFL star. Brady has launched a lifestyle brand, the TB12, and co-founded an NFT company, Autograph. Brady also launched 199 Productions in 2020 to develop documentaries, films, and TV programs. Brady’s off-field earnings will continue to rise once he’s retired from the NFL, as he has secured a lucrative deal with Fox Sports to commentate on future games when he’s ready.
Patrick Mahomes - $20,000,000 Off-Field Earnings
Mahomes has a lucrative and growing endorsement portfolio, adding an equity deal with BioSteel Sports Nutrition in 2020. Mahomes earned a massive $20 million in 2022 through off-field earnings. Mahomes’ biggest sponsors include Adidas, BioSteel, Bose, Electronic Arts, Nestlé, Oakley, Procter & Gamble, State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance, and Whoop.
Russell Wilson - $14,000,000 Off-Field Earnings
In April 2019, Wilson became the NFL's highest-paid player, signing a $140 million extension with the Seattle Seahawks. Wilson is also earning some big money through off-field ventures, where he is the founder of brand management firm West2East Empire, which itself has spawned two production companies. Wilson is also an investor in the Portland Diamond Project, which aims to bring an MLB team to Oregon. Wilson earned a mouth-watering $14 million through business in 2022.
NBA players who earned the most from business in 2022
The NBA is home to some of the world's most talented and beloved basketball players, but many of these stars are leveraging their fame to earn impressive paychecks off the court. From endorsement deals to their business ventures, there is a growing trend among athletes to utilize their popularity for more than just the game itself. Some of the most prominent examples of NBA stars with massive off-court earning power are LeBron James, Steph Curry and Kevin Durant.
The rise of NBA stars with massive off-court earning power is an inspiring reminder that hard work can pay off beyond the court too.
LeBron James - $80,000,000 Off-Field Earnings
James is one of the highest off-field-earning athletes in the world right now. During 2022, James earned an exceptional $80 million through sponsorship deals and business. The NBA’s star's main sponsors include 2K Sports, AT&T, Beats Electronics, Blaze Pizza, Converse, GMC, PepsiCo, RIMOWA, and Walmart.
Kevin Durant - $50,000,000 Off-Field Earnings
Kevin Durant banked over $50 million from sponsors and other off-field earnings in 2022, adding endorsement deals with Coinbase, NBA Top Shot, and Weedmaps. Durant has also invested in more than 80 businesses through his firm 35 Ventures. In addition to his business ventures, Durant is involved in media, developing the media brand Boardroom and being a producer on the Oscar-winning short film Two Distant Strangers.
Stephen Curry - $47,000,000 Off-Field Earnings
Stephen Curry formed his own company SC30, which manages his investments, brand partnerships, and philanthropic ventures. Under Armour announced the launch of the Curry brand in 2020, whose goal is to compete with Nike's Jordan Brand. Stephen Curry also owns his own thriving production company, Unanimous Media, which signed a development deal with Comcast NBCUniversal in 2021. More recently, Curry has added a major deal and equity stake with FTX to his portfolio in 2021.
Soccer players who earned the most from business in 2022
Soccer is undoubtedly one of the most popular sports in the world, with millions of devoted fans around the globe. It's also one of the most profitable sports, with top players earning vast sums regularly. In this section, we will look at some of the highest earners in soccer and uncover why they are so successful. From lucrative contracts to international endorsements, these players have built impressive financial empires that keep them firmly at the top of their game. With all this in mind, let's take a closer look at some of the top off-field earners in soccer and find out what makes them so successful.
Lionel Messi - $55,000,000 Off-Field Earnings
Lionel Messi is considered by many to be the greatest soccer player of all time. He recently took a step over his closest rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, when he claimed the Ballon d'Or as the world's best soccer player for a record seventh time in 2021. On top of the estimated $165 million Messi earns annually in salary and incentives, Messi made around $55 million through endorsements and sponsorships last year, including a lifetime deal with Adidas. His most recent deal with fan engagement app Socios is set to net him $20 million yearly.
Messi has also launched his own clothing line and opened his first retail outlet.
Cristiano Ronaldo - $55,000,000 Off-Field Earnings
In joint first with Messi is his closest rival on the pitch too, Cristiano Ronaldo. In 2021, Ronaldo became the first person ever to reach 500 million followers on social media apps Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. On top of his on-field earnings (estimated to be over $1 billion), Ronaldo has built up several sponsorship deals with Delivery Hero, Herbalife, MTG, Nike, and Unilever, and makes even more money with his CR7-branded clothing, accessories, hotels, and gyms.
Neymar Jr. - $25,000,000 Off-Field Earnings
In 2020, Neymar made an early exit from his long-standing contract with Nike's Jordan Brand to instead sign with Puma. Neymar is a big supporter of the world of NFTs too, and he spent over $1 million on two Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs in one day in 2022. Neymar’s biggest sponsors include DAZN, Epic Games, Flutter Entertainment (which includes UK bookmakers like Paddy Power as well as US sportsbook Fanduel, Meta, Netflix, Puma, Qatar Airways, Qatar National Bank, and Red Bull.
Celebrity entrepreneurs with the biggest fortunes
Celebrity brands tend to be quite successful. The edge that celebrities have over other start-ups is that they have already amassed a large following of fans and supporters, most of whom share a lot of their beliefs and are willing to support their businesses.
Since most celebrities have massive reach, many celebrity start-ups can also save money on the larger traditional marketing budgets needed by other beginner brands. Here are the celebrity entrepreneurs with the largest fortunes.
Oprah Winfrey - Businesses: OWN, O, The Oprah Magazine
Net Worth: $2,500,000,000
Oprah Winfrey was a talk show host for 25 years before launching her TV channel, OWN, in 2011. According to Forbes, Oprah owns a 25.5% stake in OWN, which is worth over $65 million. Oprah Winfrey is also a co-owner of Weight Watchers, owning a 7% stake in the company, alongside her magazine, O, The Oprah Magazine. Oprah Winfrey is estimated to be worth a staggering $2.5 billion.
Jay-Z - Businesses: ROC Nation, Tidal, Armand de Brignac Champagne, D’Usse cognac
Net Worth: $2,100,000,000
The first hip-hop artist to become a billionaire, Jay-Z may well be one of our most successful celebrity entrepreneurs. He started his business journey by founding the entertainment company Roc Nation back in 2008. In 2015, he purchased the streaming platform Tidal for $56 million. In 2017, Tidal was valued at $600 million, an astronomical $544 million increase in just 2 years. Jay-Z also owns a stake in Armand de Brignac Champagne worth around $50 million, and his total net worth is estimated at $2.1 billion.
Kim Kardashian West Businesses: Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, KKW Fragrance, KKW Beauty, Skims
Net Worth: $1,400,000,000
Kim Kardashian West has amassed an estimated net worth of $1.4 billion after launching several businesses, a mobile game, a line of personalized emojis, and a beauty line. When Kim launched KKW Beauty in 2017, the line sold out in just 3 hours and generated around $100 million in sales over 2018. Kim’s most recent line, Skims, once again sold out of several styles and sizes almost immediately after launch.
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