Golf dominates list of world’s best-paid sports stars

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir February 8, 2017 13:14

New research into the world’s best-paid sports stars has shown that golfers dominate the top rankings.

While talk has been of the game struggling in recent years, the London School of Marketing’s data finds that the top end of the game is still thriving.

There are four golfers in the top 10, along with three tennis players, two basketball players and just one footballer.

Tiger Woods

The Sports Marketing Power List looks at the world’s 30 best-paid sports stars ranked by the money they received in 2016 from endorsements and sponsorships, to see who the world’s most marketable athletes are.

Swiss tennis star Roger Federer was named as the world’s most marketable athlete with almost £50m in off court earnings last year.

American basketball sensation LeBron James was second with sponsors forking out £44m for his endorsements last year.

Two golfers, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, make up the rest of the top four, while another two, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, are ranked sixth and ninth respectively.

Rory McIlroy

Phil Mickelson’s main sponsors are Callaway, Amgen, Barclays, Exxon, KPMG and Rolex, which earned him £41m in marketing deals during 2016.

Tiger Woods may have played little golf in recent years but he still earned £36.9m from the likes of Nike, Rolex, Upper Deck and Hero Motorcorp.

McIlroy, who earned more than both Novak Djokovic, Floyd Mayweather, Usain Bolt and Cristiano Ronaldo, received just under £29m from sponsorships last year.

The research found that only cricket and tennis are more reliant on endorsements than golf.

Phil Mickelson

Jacques de Cock, faculty member at London School of Marketing said: “The top 100 athletes earned a total of £2.6bn last year.

“The sponsorship revenues are driven upwards mainly by the competition of major clothing brands.

“The main ones are Nike with 51 stars under contract, Adidas with 12 and Under Armour with 11. The other brands such as Reebok, Puma and New Balance have a handful each.

“Despite Roger Federer’s slow year in terms of success in his sport, his successful endorsement deals show that personal characteristics can also be an important part of long-lasting sponsorships.

“Male athletes still dominate perhaps because they offer advantages to marketers that want to tap into the traditionally hard to reach male consumer market.

“Fans tend to buy sports clothing and equipment based on what the key sportsman wear, which explains why endorsements are such a major part of cricket, tennis and golf.


“Endorsements are such a powerful way for brands to market their products. This is because they increase brand awareness, validate product features, boost brand equity, and reach the difficult 16 to 30 year old male market.”


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir February 8, 2017 13:14
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