Athletes’ performance on the field always have a significant impact on the brands they endorse. It has been empirically proven that a major achievement by athletes is positively correlated to the brands they endorse. After Kei Nishikori’s victory in the US Open in 2014, there was an immediate rise in the sales of brands sponsoring him: Wilson, Uniqlo, and others. But In Sportico’s list of the world’s highest-paid athletes, those occupying the top positions are way beyond their primes. Perhaps the image these sportstars built over the years matters more than the on-field performance. At 37, Lebron James still carries the same aura as he did in his heydays. Last year, he earned $127 million from prize money, salary, and brand endorsements, and was named the highest-paid athlete of 2021-22.

He is followed by a troika of football superstars, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Neymar. Despite being inactive for the major part of 2021, Roger Federer remains the force majeure of the advertising world, bagging over 80 million from the endorsement deals alone. 

The list is dominated by a host of NBA stars, with Steph Curry and Kevin Durant also finding themselves in the top 10. 

Valued at $53.2 million, Naomi Osaka, who is placed at No. 20, is the highest-paid female athlete in the world. Apart from Osaka, Serena Williams is the only other female athlete in the list. 

Virat Kohli Is The Only Cricketer In The List

Former India captain Virat Kohli is the only cricketer to feature in the list. He made a staggering $33.9 million last year, of which a significant chunk came from endorsements. 

Despite going through the leanest patch of his career, Kohli is still the safest bet for the brands to splurge their money on. Apart from endorsing over 30 brands, including the prominent ones like Puma, Audi, and MRF, he is also an ace investor. 

Kohli’s investment portfolio includes a fine dining restaurant Nueva, an online insurance aggregator Digit, a clothing brand Wrogn, and a restaurant chain called One8. 

Further, the 33-year-old charges around ₹1.35 crore for an Instagram post, and ₹2.3 crore for sponsored posts on Twitter.