LeBron & Kobe headline Forbe’s Highest Endorsement Earners | NBA vs MLB & NFL
Editor in Chief
Aka VincentDa & RedApples fka Expiredpineapples. My alter-ego is a digital-marketing guy in Houston. Won editing awards & created obsolete flash websites that have been featured in mags like Sports Illustrated. Studied film & women at FSU during the golden age of hip-hop. Collects records, laserdiscs, sports memorabilia & toys. Father of 2 daughters that are more athletic and popular on YouTube.
Follow @David Astramskas
LeBron and Kobe are like the James Cameron films of NBA endorsers. The gap between them and the rest of the NBA stars when it comes to endorsement dollars is so huge.
At $42 million, LeBron made almost as much as #3, #4 and #6 combined and the majority of dollars going to 4 & 6 are also from Nike. Although Nike does make up a big part of LeBron’s annual salary, he also has McDonald’s, Coca Cola, Samsung Electronics , Upper Deck, Audemars Piguet and Dunkin’ Donuts writing him checks.
What’s very interesting is that the top 10 endorser All-Stars in the NBA made over $155 million last year which is triple what the top 10 in the NFL made and five times more than the MLB ($30 million) but the NBA All-Star game only had 8.3 million viewers (4.7 million households) while the NFL Pro Bowl had 11.7 million viewers last season which is unimpressive enough for the NFL to consider cancelling the event.
But the answer to the gap in endorsement dollars between the sports was told to us by Mars Blackmon 25 year ago when he held up some sneakers and told Michael Jordan “it’s gotta be the shoes.”
It’s the shoes we see on the court that we can wear on and off the court, the faces we can see that aren’t behind masks and helmets and the ease of highlighting an individual’s performance and personality in a game that will rack up millions of YouTube views within days is what makes the NBA players so marketable on a global scale.
Player/total endorsement income/shoe sponsor
- LeBron James: $42 million (Nike)
- Kobe Bryant: $34 million (Nike)
- Derrick Rose: $21 million (Adidas)
- Kevin Durant: $14 million (Nike)
- Dwyane Wade: $12 million (Li Ning)
- Carmelo Anthony: $9 million (Jordan/Nike)
- Amar’e Stoudemire: $6.5 million (Nike)
- Dwight Howard: $6 million (Adidas)
- Blake Griffin: $6 million (Jordan/Nike)
- Chris Paul: $4 million (Jordan/Nike)