When you think of athletes and their clothes and shoes, one brand should come to mind asap. But, of course, we are talking about Nike. The most well-known and recognized brand worldwide. Starting on January 25, 1964, Nike has served to be the best in the world for sports equipment and everyday wear.
Many flaunt their love for Nike by wearing an array of shoes or sporting the many clothing options. In fact, Nike made a whopping $49.107 billion last year, which was a 6.05% increase from the previous year.
With all that money in hand, Nike has the financial stability to endorse some of the most recognizable athletes in the world. However, with the aggressive amounts of money Nike pays these athletes, what makes them unique? Most of the names on the list are considered GOATS in their respective sports. Yet, many live up to their expectations with the money Nike spends on these deals.
Today we break down Nike’s top 10 most expensive endorsement deals—the 2023 updated list.
10: Kobe Bryant, Basketball
With our first spot on the list, we have the man himself, Kobe Bryant. Kobe officially started with a six-year deal with Adidas but switched to Nike in June 2003.
During his time on Earth, Kobe had a five-year deal that was contracted for $40 million. He was making $8 million a year. After his tragic death, Nike reached a new long-term deal with Kobe in order to continue the legacy he had.
After his death, Kobe’s shoe sales continued to increase, and according to ESPN, 20% of the NBA athletes were wearing his sneakers.
9: Kevin Durant, Basketball
Next up on the list is Phoenix Suns power/small forward Kevin Durant. Durant is another athlete Adidas tried to sign, but he turned down the $70 million deal. But, again, it seemed like he preferred the check mark compared to the stripes.
He makes a pretty solid paycheck from Nike, who offered him a seven-year deal that pays him around $8.5 million annually. Durant was also Nike’s fourth highest earner in the year 2022, which had a $35 million return.
8: Maria Sharapova, Tennis
After winning multiple competitions and tournaments, she has proved to be such a profound player. Sharapova is also the only female on this list, but she definitely deserves the spot as she even sports an Olympic Silver Medal.
Sharapova had an eight-year $8.75 million deal that was worth $70 million in 2010. In 2018, Sharapova failed a drug test that ended with Nike dropping her from her endorsement.
7: Roger Federer, Tennis
For how amazing he is at tennis, Roger Federer’d deal is worth all the money. Building his name from the career he has accomplished gave Nike every right to the amount of his contract. He won almost every Grand Slam Fibal from the years 2005 to 2010.
Federer has earned a 10-year deal with Nike, making him around $10 million annually. So if we do the math, that is $100 million in just ten years!
6: Derek Jeter, Baseball
The only baseball athlete on this list, Derek Jeter, is a staple name in baseball. Having multiple World Series titles, Golden Gloves, and World Series MVPs, Nike definitely wants him on a deal.
Jeter has appeared in multiple Nike ads and even has the famous slogan, “hustle has no age limit.” We couldn’t agree more with the ad, as Jeter earns $10 million yearly on a 10-year contract.
5: Rafael Nadal, Tennis
Another stapled name in the sport of tennis is Rafael Nadal. He earns a bit more than his rival Federer, but his contract has yet to be made public.
From what is known, he earns an estimated $10 million plus a year. He also makes money off royalties, so he’s making a hefty amount from Nike.
4: LeBron James, Basketball
One, if not the most famous athlete on this list, is none other than LeBron James. Of course, whenever we see LeBron or hear his name, we can always associate him with Nike. But, like many others on this list, he has his own signature shoes.
James must have scored himself a lifetime deal with Nike, especially after the milestones he has accomplished in his career. In fact, in 2015, he signed a lifetime deal with them. James has earned himself a $15 million deal a year deal with Nike.
3: Tiger Woods, Golf
When it comes to golf, there are two names you should know, and Tiger Woods is an absolute. Woods is on top of the list as one of the highest-paid endorsers for Nike.
He has also signed multiple deals with the company, with the first one happening in 1996. His first contract was $8 million for five years, which is chump change nowadays for Woods.
Woods earned $20 million a year in the most recent contracted deal for five years. In retrospect, he makes $100 million in just five years. Furthermore, he isn’t even the most highly endorsed golfer.
2: Rory Mcllroy, Golf
Rory Mcllroy is another name in golf that many of us should know. At the time of his deal, when he was 23 years old, Nike needed a young face to the company.
His collection at Nike offers every essential product a golfer made need before his time at the range. He makes a staggering $25 million a year.
He first signed with Nike in 2013, earning $100-$250 million. Then in 2017, he extended that contract to 10 more years for $200 million.
1: Michael Jordan, Basketball
You may consider him the greatest basketball player of all time. You may also think of his signature shoes when you think of Nike.
I’m talking about basketball legend Michael Jordan. The staple and activeness he has with Nike is insane and tops many other deals alike. His Air Jordans are what many sneakerheads and fans alike crave for when it comes to shoes. From that celebrity status he has earned, Nike definitely needed to make a massive deal with the star athlete.
Michael Jordan’s deal with Nike was a whopping $60 million annually. He still continues to earn his endorsement money to this day.
As we look back at some of these athletes, we think of the significant accomplishments they have gained over the years. We see the reason why Nike pays them the big bucks. We can also see a trend on Nike favoring basketball and tennis the most.
As more athletes sign with Nike, we wonder if anyone will ever top these deals.