It is now nine years since Sports Pro first published its first edition of the world’s most marketable athletes’ annual list way back in 2010. The last five seasons have seen several rise and fall of sports stars, seen World Cups and Olympic Games, seen continental championships and Super Bowls, seen many national and international titles come and go, seen several changing-hands of trophies. But interestingly, many sports stars remain the same without any little scratch of their personal brandings, at least for SportsPor.
Just six sports stars in this blue planet have achieved their places in every list of the SportsPro magazine’s annual list: Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Usain Bolt, Lewis Hamilton, Rory McIlroy, and Sebastian Vettel. Lightning-Bolt is the only inductee who secured his place in the top ten in all six lists since 2010. The places of this years’ list were measured towards the marketing potential of athletes all over the world over the course of the next three years. It was measured by which athlete would give brands the best return if they are signed an endorsement deal over that next three years. So let us take a look at the top 10 most marketable athletes in the world.
Top 10 Most Marketable Athletes in the world
10. Usain Bolt
Representatives: Pace Sports Management
Key partners: Puma, Gatorade, Digicel, Regupol, Hublot, Virgin Media, Nissan, Celcom
The world has seen the 33-year old Jamaican sprinter resumed his role as world athletics’ entertainer-in-chief while dancing and shimmying his way to the start line. He seems to make the most of it after he declared his final push in his era-long athletic career. Usain Bolt already retired after a final Olympics in Rio and the 2017 World Athletics Championships in London. But even during his last days of career, Bolt still attracted more crowds to the track and field meet than any other athlete on the planet, even not the disgraced Justin Gatlin.
As Bolt being Bolt at last year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, he made it clear that he is the undisputed champ by his show-stopping cameo as a member of Jamaica’s relay team. Lightning Bolt is inducted in the tenth place in our list of top 10 most marketable athletes in the world 2020.
9. Katarina Johnson-Thompson
Key partners: Nike, Nissan
British sport found a new favorite as this 27-year old Heptathlete first showed her charisma years ago in London. The world cherished the imminent appearance of Jessica Ennis on the opening Friday at the Olympic Stadium when a new event of heptathlon 100m hurdles was first introduced. But irrespective of the star-studded appearance, the crowd immediately spotted a 19-year-old British entrant. And what the girl did? She giggled spontaneously and gave the best performance of her career.
Katarina Johnson-Thompson won the prestigious Götzis meeting last year and also achieved the indoor medals in 2014 and 2015 consecutively. Sports fans are sure that she will deliver her best performance at world championships this year and in Rio next year. Katarina is inducted in the ninth place in our list of top 10 most marketable athletes in the world 2020.
8. Kei Nishikori
Key partners: Jaguar, Adidas, Weider, Wilson, Asahi, Nissin, Tag Heuer, Uniqlo
The 30-year old Japanese tennis star showed his prominence since he turned professional in 2007. The world witnessed Nishikori becoming the only Japanese male tennis player ever to reach the top ten of singles rankings in ATP. He recently achieved his career-high 54 wins and made his first Grand Slam final appearance at the US Open. In April 2015, the Jap-star reached number four position in the ATP ranking.
IMG agency tactfully pushed its players to become the face of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as Kei Nishikori signed a sponsorship deal with Japanese company Asahi Breweries. With endless potential, the tennis star seems to progress as one of the most dominant force on the tennis court. The tennis-Goku is inducted in the eighth place in our list of top 10 most marketable athletes in the world.
7. Stephen Curry
Key Partners: Under Armour, State Farm, Kaiser Permanente, MuscleMilk
The 32-year old American proved him to be one of the greatest NBA players and the current underdog of basketball throughout his brief career from overlooked college recruit to overwhelming choice of MVP. Stephen Curry made an outstanding 286 this year and surpassed his own record of 272 in 2013 for three-pointers in a single season of NBA. He also proved himself as the key-force to make the Golden State Warriors into NBA’s best team by his steady performance after being the seventh overall pick in the 2009 draft.
Stephen recently this season led the All-Star fan-voting with a whopping 1.5 million nominations. His number-30 jersey also became the NBA’s second-best seller after superstar LeBron James. The underdog also tops the list of NBA in the recent Celebrity DBI survey by Repucom. He is inducted in the seventh place in our list of top 10 most marketable athletes in the world 2020.
6. Virat Kohli
Representatives: Cornerstone Sport and Entertainment
Key partners: MRF, Adidas, Oakley, Pepsi, Clear, Nestlé
The 31-year old proved him to be the epitome of the ultra-modern Indian cricketer. One of the greatest batsmen, Kohli, deserves his place in the world XI as he showed he belongs to the highest international class. But as a downside, he is accused of sourness as he seems lacking grace in recent days. The cricket star recently came into huge limelight by the coverage of his marriage with Indian actress Anushka Sharma.
Virat Kohli is the current captain of India and the flagship cricketer of limited-overs team blue. He also showed some diversity by accumulating his stake in FC Goa thus becoming an integral part of the Indian soccer revolution, the Indian Super League. The ingenious cricket-star is inducted in the sixth place in our list of top 10 most marketable athletes in the world.
5. Lewis Hamilton
Representatives: Purple PR
Key partners: IWC Schaffhausen, Bombardier
After spending five-season without any title since his 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship victory, the 35-year old British racer showed his class by claiming the title in 2014 ahead of his Mercedes Formula One team-mate Nico Rosberg. Lewis Hamilton gradually climbing the all-time stats leaderboard of Formula One by showing some of his extraordinary skills on the F1 tracks. Besides, he also secured in place in the highest-paid race car drivers in 2020.
He is also rumored to sign an all-new mega-contract with Mercedes. And, that could boost him to achieve the British record of annual salary in sports. The racer is now trying his best to grab his third title which could level him with his hero, Ayrton Senna, in the all-time standings. The ‘Suppa-driver’ holds fifth place in our list of top 10 most marketable athletes in the world in 2020.
4. Missy Franklin
Representatives: WME | IMG
Key partners: Not Yet
The authority and the media immediately came to the conclusion that the 25-year old American swimmer Missy Franklin will be the face of their coverage in Rio 2016 after plenty of long conversations among NBC executives while they sit down to discuss their plan for the Rio games. She delivered her charisma to the companies that spend some billions on television rights as she delivered her grace to so many American fans.
She showed his class and proved his monumental potential in future days by grabbing four victories at London 2012. Besides, she also achieved six more at the 2013 world championships. The dazzling swimmer passed up millions in endorsement income for continuing her education at the University of Berkley, California. She joined the team of WME | IMG after leading the Golden Bears to an NCAA title in 2015. The American-mermaid is inducted in the fourth place in our list of top 10 most marketable athletes in the world in 2020.
3. Jordan Spieth
Representatives: Lagardère Unlimited
Key Partners: Under Armour, AT&T, Rolex, NetJets
America finally has its new golf-man in 26-year old Jordan Spieth, the young Texan who proved his place among the greatest golfers of all time. He proved himself to be an outstanding candidate to carry the US flag. And, he did that after legendary Tiger Woods and a long-term adversary to Europe’s Rory McIlroy. The golf-genius came up as the reminiscent of a fearless record-breaking Tiger while leading the Masters throughout from start to finish.
Even after his first-time major successes, sadly few would doubt that many more will come. At a 26-year age, the godsend golfer has an unmatched peal and ambassadorial maturity. His fans stated that only the consistency will be the key from here on. But tragically, the battle lines have already drawn, its USA vs. Europe, more like Spieth versus McIlroy. The golfing-showcase now holds the third place in our list of top 10 most marketable athletes in the world.
Representatives: Wagner Ribeiro, Neymar da Silva
Key Partners: Nike, Panasonic, Claro, Volkswagen, Rexona
Brazilian soccer’s 28-year old twinkle-toes couldn’t lead his team to FIFA World Cup glory last year. But, nobody was left in any doubt about his grip over his nation by the time the tournament concluded. His absence at the sad 7-1 defeat against Germany in World Cup 2014 didn’t harm his personal brand. He encouraged with a broken bone in his back for Brazil’s semi-final in World Cup 2014. His teammates showed his prominence even if he is not present at the match squad. They held a shirt bearing Neymar’s name aloft during the pre-match Brazilian anthem.
The gesture showed the reflection of Neymar’s status in Brazil even it was a little bizarre for a big team. Neymar, with Neymar’s amazing hairstyles, is now growing more into his role in his second spell at Spanish club FC Barcelona. The 23-year old proud father recently became the face of Listerine in April. He now holds his spot among the top 10 most marketable athletes in the world in 2020.
1. Eugenie Bouchard
Key Partners: Nike, Coca-Cola, Babolat, Rogers, Usana Health Sciences
Playing at the US Open when there’s no US Open = ghost town 👻 pic.twitter.com/DTZaBCVywo
— Genie Bouchard (@geniebouchard) June 9, 2019
The 26-year old Canadian tennis beauty won her first WTA Tour title years back. She created a buzz after reaching two semis and a final in Grand Slams in 2014. The world has raised questions about whether she has the temperament or the talent to reach the ultimate heights. The questions came after her losing record and a string of first-round exits. But the future of tennis has great confidence in her, at least her die-hard fans think so.
Eugenie Bouchard recently completed her long-speculated move from Lagardère Unlimited to WME│IMG in December 2014. She’ll get the boost from the sports- industry powerhouse which helped turn Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova into the two highest-paid female tennis players in the sports universe. The drop-dead-diva of tennis is inducted in the top place in our list of helped turn Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova into the two highest earners in women’s sport.
Three of the most cherished names in sports universe, David Beckham, Roger Federer, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Sachin Tendulkar, are the perfect examples that suggest that omission from world’s most marketable athletes‘ annual list might not have anything to do with bad-patch, stardom or brand appeal.