Sponsorship in sport is a huge business. Businesses are willing to invest hundreds of millions of dollars of their marketing budgets into endorsing clubs, leagues, events and athletes, to ensure that their brand is associated with success. Whether a sportswear company agrees to supply kit or gear to a sportsmen, so that people will try to emulate their heroes by buying the same items, or if companies want to advertise their products with sports teams they know will be featured on television due to their skill and popularity, sponsorship deals can be big earners. In some cases, athletes and teams can even get most of their income from endorsements rather than from prize money and salary, making them hugely important to the overall running of sports around the world.
This article will look at the biggest sponsorships deals around the world, from athletes at the top of their game to teams and events that are known in countries throughout the globe.
10 David Beckham and Adidas - $20 million a year
David Beckham still managed to pull in big money endorsements, even though he retired from football last year. At the peak of his playing ability, Beckham signed an endorsement deal with Adidas that saw the sportswear company pay him $160 million, with half of that sum paid up front, and give him a percentage of profits from his own branded kit. By 2012, the player had signed a new contract with Adidas and was earning in the region of $20 million a year to supplement that salary he got from playing football for LA Galaxy.
9 Rory McIlroy and Nike - $25 million a year
Following the demise of Tiger Woods (following his inconsistent form and scandals in his personal life), Nike have since looked to other golfers to share their sponsorship. The biggest winner out of this new direction was the Northern Irish golfer, Rory McIlroy. Following his incredible performances in numerous majors and topping the rankings in the PGA Tour, Nike chose McIlroy to be their new face of golf. At age 25, the golfer is now earning in the region of $25 million a year after signing a contract to associate himself with Nike that was reported to amount to $250 million over ten years.
8 Derrick Rose and Adidas - $26 million a year
Since being drafted by the Chicago Bulls in 2008, Derrick Rose has risen to become one of the biggest stars in the NBA. He won the Rookie of the Year Award in the same year and later became the youngest player to win the NBA Most Valuable Player Award in 2011. The player already had a long-standing relationship with Adidas, dating from 2008 when they had first agreed to sponsor him for his footwear, but in 2011, a new contract was signed between the two parties that took Rose’s earnings from the deal to $260 million over a ten year period.
7 Kevin Durant and Nike - $30 million a year
Kevin Durant has always had a number of large sponsorship and endorsement deals, due to his spectacular performances in the NBA for Oklahoma City Thunder. However, when his biggest deal was due to finish earlier this year, rumors emerged that the star basketball player was due to leave his partnership with Nike in order to sign with Under Armour. The deal offered was a huge percentage of the company’s marketing budget, somewhere in the region of $285 million. Nike eventually countered this offer with a 10-year deal, worth an estimated $300 million. That amount means that the sportswear giant will be paying Durant more than his team are every year.
6 Barcelona and Qatar Airways - $40 million a year
Barcelona are unarguably one of the most successful football sides. In recent times, they have won numerous La Liga titles, along with a number of cup competitions including three Champions League wins. They also have a player in the form of Lionel Messi, who is widely considered to be one of the greatest footballers of all time. This makes them an attractive prospect to potential sponsors, however, the club had never sold advertising space on the front of their kit, but that changed in 2013 when Qatar Airways concluded an agreement. The three-year deal amounted to €95.5 million which converts to a rate of around $40 million a year in total. The deal also includes a $6 million bonus if the football giants can win the UEFA Champions League at any time during the contract.
5 Arsenal and Puma - $50 million a year
London based Premier League football club, Arsenal ended a 20-year-old relationship with Nike in 2013, to sign a new deal with Puma to make its kits. The new deal was the biggest that sportswear company Puma had ever made, and is considered to be one of the kit supplier deals in the sport. In total, the five-year contract means that Puma will pay Arsenal around $250 million, a figure that means the club will receive in the region of $50 million every year. Puma committed to the large deal in the hopes of increasing their brand, so that they can rival Adidas and Nike in football around the world.
4 McLaren and Vodafone - $75 million a year
Formula One is a huge Worldwide sport that reaches markets across Europe, Asia, the Middle-East and the Americas. It should come as no surprise then, that big companies are willing to pay handsomely to feature on the liveries of some of the best teams competing. Between 2007 and 2013, the McLaren F1 team’s title sponsor was Vodafone. The mobile telecommunications business paid out an estimated $75 million a year to feature on their two cars. The investment paid off immediately, with Lewis Hamilton winning a World Championship in 2008, and the signing of Jenson Button in 2010, further increasing their appeal.
3 Manchester United and Chevrolet - $80 million a year
Following a $30 million a year deal with insurance company Aon, Manchester signed a brand new contract with Chevrolet earlier this year. The new agreement sees one of the most famous football clubs in the world, earning a record $559 million over a period of seven years. That means the club will receive yearly instalments of just under $80 million until 2019. The huge sponsorship deal is the biggest in football, eclipsing deals that the likes of Arsenal, Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Real Madrid have, confirming that the millions of fans that Manchester United have around the world are incredibly valuable to companies looking to market their brand.
2 NFL and Pepsi - $90 million a year
The NFL is a huge brand in the United States, with viewing figures regularly in the tens of millions. While its appeal has generally been limited to American audiences, recent years have seen the sport grow in other regions with the Super Bowl, in particular, grabbing attention in other areas such as the United Kingdom. While the NFL has a number of high profile businesses that sponsor the league and individual teams, by far the largest is the drinks company Pepsi, who pay in the region of $90 million a year to have their Gatorade drink and other snacks be the featured products at games.
1 London 2012 Olympics and Coca Cola - $100 million
The Olympic Games is the biggest sporting event on the planet, rivaled only by the FIFA World Cup. Its wide range of sports and athletes means that it is hugely popular across the globe, and is a perfect opportunity for companies to market their brands. Especially when events like the opening ceremony can attract as many as 900 million viewers. The Olympic Games typically have a number of main sponsors and for the London 2012 Olympics, one of the biggest was Coca Cola. While the IOC does not reveal the figures of any sponsorship deals, research carried out by The Guardian suggests that the drinks giant paid in the region of $100 million to be associated with the event, worldwide.
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