These athletes make more money through endorsements than sports

Forbes recently released its list of the highest-paid athletes in the world but some of the most well-known players actually make more from endorsements than the sports they play.

Tennis star Roger Federer, whose fifth on the list, took in $7.4 million in salary/winnings but $86 million in endorsements. Federer has partnerships with Rolex, Credit Suisse and Mercedes-Benz. He recently signed a 10-year, $300 million deal with Uniqlo, proving he’s a force in marketing.

NBA superstar LeBron James, who was the NBA’s highest-paid player in 2019, had $35.7 million in salary/bonuses and $53 million in endorsements. James has a lengthy endorsement portfolio. He owns his own production and media companies. He is also an investor in Blaze Pizza. His endorsements include Coca Cola, Nike and Beats by Dre.

Golf star Tiger Woods, who has held the top spot 12 times previously, took in $9.9 million in salary/winnings but a whopping $54 million in endorsements. Woods has earned more than $1 billion in endorsements since 1996. Some of his sponsorships include Nike, TaylorMade and Bridgestone.

Fellow golfer Phil Mickelson also took in a staggering $36 million from endorsements while earning $12.4 million in his salary/earnings. Mickelson, a popular pitchman, has partnerships with Amgen, Rolex and ExxonMobil.


Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, ranked sixth on the list, earned most of his money from his salary/winnings. MLB superstar Mike Trout was the highest earned baseball player on the list. He earned the majority of his money from his salary ($47.6 million) versus his endorsements ($3 million).

Absent from the list of those who make more from endorsements is the year’s highest-paid athlete – Lionel Messi. The soccer superstar, who clocked in with $127 million in earnings, has a salary/winnings of $92 million and $35 million in endorsements, according to Forbes.