Gatorade is one of the most recognizable brands in all of sports. During any televised sporting event, one will see their numerous commercials featuring athletes performing or training while drinking the product and appearing to sweat it back out through their pores. Their successful advertising is one of the main reasons Gatorade has developed into a $4.8 billion company.
Gatorade was developed in 1965 at the University of Florida. Gators’ head football coach Ray Graves went to a group of scientists at the university and asked them to develop a drink that would hydrate his players better than water. The research team came up with Gatorade. The drink was tested by the football team during practices and games. The team credited the beverage as being a major contributor in their ability to win the first Orange Bowl title in the school’s history.
The product, now manufactured by Pepsi, started gaining vast popularity during the 1980s and early 1990s. This was due to its new advertising methods. In the 1970s, Gatorade claimed in its commercials that it could hydrate the body 12 times faster than water. When this was found to be untrue, the company had to look for a new way to entice buyers. This is when they began paying athletes to endorse the product. The company started gaining recognition in the late 1980s through its new advertising scheme, but then made major strides when it reach a contract with a new endorser. This man was Michael Jordan. The “Be Like Mike” commercials became one of the most lucrative advertising campaigns in history.
Gatorade still uses athlete endorsers today to push their product and it has worked very well. It's estimated the product brings in $3.3 billion in sales each year. Out of all the sports drinks sold, 46 percent of them are Gatorades. The product is the official sports drink of the NFL, NBA, WNBA, NHL, MLB, MLS and the Association of Volleyball Professionals. With all these endorsements, it's no wonder why Gatorade is one of the most powerful sports brands in the world.
This list ranks ten of the athletes that pitch their product. They are by no means the only athletes who appear in Gatorade commercials, but they are the richest, ranked by the amount of money they bring in from endorsements each year. This money does not solely come from Gatorade, but from all the companies that pay these player to have them talk up their particular product.
10 Derek Jeter: $9 Million/Year in Endorsements
Derek Jeter announced he is going to retire at the end of this season. He has definitely made enough money throughout his career with the New York Yankees to make it an excellent retirement. The future Hall of Famer is one of the members of the 3,000 hits club and has five World Series rings. He currently has an estimated net worth of $140 million. Throughout his major league career, Jeter has made in excess of $100 million from endorsements alone. He takes the tenth spot on this list due to the $9 million he brings in every year from endorsements.
9 Cam Newton: $9.5 Million/Year in Endorsements
Cam Newton has been very busy during his first few years in the NFL. In 2011, Newton was selected first overall by the Carolina Panthers. His very first game showed there were good things to come from the young quarterback. In his debut appearance, he threw for over 400 passing yards and broke the record set by Peyton Manning for most yards thrown in a quarterback’s first start. Newton has a net worth of $14 million. However, most of that money comes from his many commercial appearances. In 2013, he made $9.5 million from pitching products alone.
8 Jimmie Johnson: $10 Million/Year in Endorsements
Jimmie Johnson is one of the biggest names in NASCAR with an estimated net worth of $40 million. He brings in $10 million each year from endorsements. Johnson began his racing career at a very young age and by the age of sixteen he was already one of the top amateur racers in the United States. In 2001, he made his professional debut by winning the Busch Racing Series. He quickly moved up the ranks. From 2006 to 2008, Johnson was the number one ranked driver in NASCAR. He started 2009 a bit slow and was knocked out of the top spot, but by the end of the season he reclaimed his title.
7 Dwyane Wade: $11.5 Million/Year in Endorsements
The locker room leader of the Miami Heat, Dwyane Wade has a net worth of $95 million. Wade is a highly decorated NBA star, having already won two titles. He also has an Olympic gold medal from the 2008 Beijing games to go along with those championship rings. Wade appears in almost all of Gatorade’s commercials. He earns $11.5 million annually from pitching products. Wade even tried to recruit his teammate Lebron James to join the Gatorade pitchmen team. Despite Wade’s efforts, the company and James could not reach a suitable agreement.
6 Kevin Durant: $14 Million/Year in Endorsements
Kevin Durant has been one of the NBA’s best since his first season when he was named the Rookie of the Year. Since being drafted by the Seattle Supersonics, Durant has been named to three All-Star Games and been the NBA’s highest scorer three times. The center for the Oklahoma City Thunder has an estimated net worth of about $60 million and he will bring in about $14 million from endorsing products this year.
5 Peyton Manning: $15 Million/Year in Endorsements
Following his MVP performance in Super Bowl XLI, Peyton Manning appeared on Saturday Night Live. During his opening monologue, the star quarterback stated he accomplished two major life goals that year. Not only had he won the Super Bowl, but he jokingly stated he was finally able to appear on half the commercials aired in America. That almost seems true. Manning endorses all kinds of products. In 2013, he made an extra $15 million from appearing in commercials. The five-time league MVP has an estimated net worth of $115 million. It makes sense that he would be one of the most highly sought after athlete endorsers. Manning has been to 13 Pro Bowls and ranks second all-time in both passing yards and passing touchdowns.
4 Usain Bolt: $20 Million/Year in Endorsements
Jamaican track and field superstar Usain Bolt is often referred to as the fastest man alive. Bolt has an estimated net worth of $24 million. Believe it or not, being the fastest man in the world, does not pay very well. There is very little prize money involved in track and field. Bolt makes nearly all of his money by endorsing products like Gatorade. His net worth will be increasing exponentially over the next few years. It's estimated he brought in nearly $20 million in endorsements in 2013.
3 Serena Williams: $27 Million/Year in Endorsements
Serena Williams is one of the most successful female athletes of all time. During her years as a tennis star, Williams has won 13 Grand Slam singles titles. She also has won two Olympic gold medals. Williams has won more prize money from sporting events than any other female in history. So far, she has earned $36 million in tournament prize money. Prior to 2013, she was making about $12 million in endorsement money each year. However, last year she restructured her contracts with Nike and Kraft Foods. The two companies will give her an addition $17 million each year, bringing her grand total from endorsements up to $27 million dollars.
2 Tiger Woods: $55 Million/Year in Endorsements
People believe the recent scandal involving Tiger Woods really hurt his pocket book. In 2008, Woods brought in $128 million from endorsements. Following the scandal, many companies withdrew him from their list of endorsers. The nine-time PGA Player of the Year has an estimated net worth of $500 million. In 2013, Woods brought in approximately $55 million from endorsements. Recently, he signed a five-year deal with Gatorade to endorse a custom drink called “Gatorade Tiger”. That deal is worth $100 million in total. So, did the scandal really affect his pocket book that much?
1 Michael Jordan: $80 Million/Year in Endorsements
Gatorade’s biggest athlete endorser is actually a retired athlete. Michael Jordan is a household name. During his years with the Chicago Bulls he won six NBA Championships and was the league MVP five times. He holds the record from the highest scoring average ever. Jordan was inducted into the Professional Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009. He is not only the best basketball player in history, but it is argued he is the best athlete of all time. Jordan has a net worth of over $650 million. In 2013, he made $80 million from endorsements.
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