The first huge sports endorsement deal was pioneered by basketball’s Michael Jordan over 30 years ago when he signed with Nike. Jordan still receives an estimated $60 million each year from his association with the footwear company. LeBron James just signed the biggest endorsement deal in pro sports history, which could bring over $500 million to the Cleveland star from Nike. Basketball players top the highest endorsement lists every year. NFL players tend to have a wider range of endorsements and lower individual amounts per endorsement. Alone or in combination, here are the five top endorsement deals for pro football players in history.
Odell Beckham: Nike
New York Giant player Odell Beckham had lucrative endorsements with Nike before he signed the biggest endorsement deal in NFL history as of May, 2017. Beckham met with both Adidas and Nike and asked for matching offers before finally deciding to go with Nike for a reported $25 million to be paid over 5 years. According to NFL.com, Beckham has endorsed Nike since he graduated from college. He will make as much as $50 million by the time the new Nike endorsement deal is complete.
Peyton Manning: Multiple Deals
According to Opendorse, Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos’ Peyton Manning tops the list of football’s biggest deals, with an estimated $15 million in annual endorsements. Manning isn’t expected to slow down soon, since he retired at the top of football as the MVP of Super Bowl 50 in 2016. Manning’s deals include Buick, DirecTV, Gatorade, Nationwide, Nike and Papa John’s. In addition to receiving sponsorship fees and appearing in countless commercials, Manning owns nearly 30 Papa John’s pizza stores, ensuring his financial future.
Drew Brees: Multiple Deals
Drew Brees receives over $13,000 for every endorsed tweet he makes to his estimated 2.4 million Twitter followers, according to Opendorse. The New Orleans Saints’ quarterback is a Super Bowl champion and has endorsement deals totaling more than $12 million a year according to Forbes. Brees’ deals include Nike, Proctor & Gamble, PepsiCo, and Wrangler. He also has a family foundation which has contributed over $25 million to charities in New Orleans and San Diego, the communities where Brees has played.
Cam Newton: Multiple Deals
Carolina Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton is poised for many more years on the field and his clean image and upbeat personality brought him up to Peyton Manning endorsement levels in 2016. Newton’s deals with UnderArmor, Dannon Oikos yogurt and Gatorade earned him an estimated $10 to $12 million above and beyond his $40 million player salary in 2016.
Russell Wilson: Multiple Deals
Sports Illustrated reported that the Seattle Seahawks asked their star quarterback Russell Wilson to rein in endorsement deals in 2014. In 2016, Forbes reported that Wilson competed at the top of NFL endorsement lists with Cam Newton and Drew Brees, with an estimated $10 million in endorsement deals and contracts. Wilson stands at #18 on Forbes’ list of the world’s highest paid athletes. His endorsement deals include Alaska Airlines, Bose, Braun and Duracell.
National Football League player salaries are higher than salaries for athletes in several other sports. While their endorsement deals may not top the heights seen for basketball players like LeBron James or tennis players like Roger Federer, NFL players still rank highly on Forbes’ list of highest-paid athletes. The five hugest endorsement deals in pro football come from a combination of different sponsors. Mega-endorsement company Nike still gives some of the highest fees to promote its products through NFL players.