Lars Becker

What Do the Stars of the Olympic Games in Rio Earn?

In the past, the Olympic Games used to be a competition for amateurs, but the big stars of the sports world have long since started to participate as well. However, the list of the highest earners is not topped by football players, but by stars from a wide range of different disciplines. 

The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio mega-earners: Roger Federer, Usain Bolt, Novak Djokovic and Kevin Durant.
The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio mega-earners: Roger Federer, Usain Bolt, Novak Djokovic and Kevin Durant.

The stars of the Olympic Games in Rio (5 to 21 August) are the tennis superstar Novak Djokovic, the top basketball scorer Kevin Durant, the tennis record holder Serena Williams and Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world. According to “Forbes”, their combined annual earnings total around 190 million dollars, which also makes them the absolutely highest earners of the Rio Olympics participants. The only woman in the male-dominated top earner segment: Serena Williams, considered one of the top tennis favorites for Rio. introduces the stars and reveals their major sponsors.

Serena Williams: Highest-earning woman

Estimated annual income: 29 million dollars. This puts Serena Williams in only 40th place in the ranking of the best-paid athletes, which also includes sportspeople from non-Olympic disciplines. Williams is nevertheless the best-paid female by a length – a long way before tennis star Maria Sharapova, who features in the Forbes list in 88th place. The Russian was long considered the richest sportswoman, but she has recently been found guilty of resorting to doping. Her sponsorship income has taken a considerable dip since then. Read here who no longer backs Sharapova.

Income sources: With 78 million dollars, Serena Williams has earned twice as much as any other female top athlete during her professional career. Her main sponsors are Nike and Wilson.

Outfitter: Sportswear manufacturer Nike markets Williams’ own collection of clothing and shoes. 

Other sponsors: include Beats, Delta Airlines, IBM, Burlei bras and Audemars Piguet. Curious: Williams owns a share in the football club Miami Dolphins. According to Forbes, Williams receives a total of around 20 million dollars in sponsorship monies.

Achievements: 17 Grand Slam titles, world’s No 1 seed for 302 weeks, Olympic champion in 2008, second place in the 2012 Olympics.

Kevin Durant: US basketball star in Rio

Estimated annual income: 63 million dollars. This makes him number five on the list of the world’s highest-earning sportspeople.

Income sources: Kevin Durant has just transferred from one professional basketball league NBA team to another, from Oklahoma City Thunder team to the Golden State Warriors. His new club is rumored to pay him more than 27 million dollars a year. However, he earns even more from his sponsors: 36 million dollars. Durant receives most of this from Nike.

Outfitter: Nike. Durant will allegedly make an incredible 300 million dollars from his ten-year contract with the US sportswear giant, which was signed in 2014. At the time, Nike outdid its competitor Under Armour in the bidding war. 

Other sponsors: include Neff and Foot Locker.

Achievements: Olympic champion at the 2012 Olympics in London with the US basket ball player “dream team”; he intends to repeat this achievement at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. NBA finalist 2012, NBA MVP in 2014, 4x NBA top scorer (2010 to 2012, 2014)

Read here: The 2016 Olympics sponsors: the multi-billion dollar business in Rio

Novak Djokovic: The world’s No 1 seed in tennis

Estimated annual income: 56 million dollars. Trainer Boris Becker’s protégé is therefore the world’s 6th highest-earning athlete.

Income sources: Novak Djokovic was the first professional tennis player to break the 100 million dollar prize money limit. His sports achievements have currently netted him more than 102 million dollars. In 2015, he was the first player in the world to earn more than 20 million dollars in prize money. Nevertheless, he earns far more from his sponsors: 36 million dollars per annum, according to Forbes.

Outfitter: Adidas (shoes) and Uniqlo (clothing). He is said to earn a good nine million dollars a year from his five-year contract with the Japanese clothing manufacturer, which was signed in 2012. He will also earn millions from his shoe contract with Adidas, which also runs for several years. 

Other sponsors: include Head, ANZ, Peugeot and Seiko

Achievements: 12 Grand Slam titles, world’s No 1 seed for more than 200 weeks, third place in the 2008 Olympics

Neymar: Brazil’s superstar

Estimated annual income: 37.5 million dollars. The star of the Rio Olympics football tournament therefore shares the number 21 spot on the list of the planet’s best-paid athletes with professional tennis player Rafael Nadal.

Neymar is playing for the Selecao at the Olympic Games.
Neymar is playing for the Selecao at the Olympic Games.

Income sources: The Brazilian football star has just signed a new five-year contract with FC Barcelona that will run until 2021. The club would release him from this contract only for the staggering sums of between 200 million dollars (in the first year) and 250 million dollars (in the last two years). Barca is estimated to pay him a 14.5 million dollar salary. Again, he earns far more from his personal sponsorship contracts: 23 million dollars a year, it is said.

Outfitter: Nike. Neymar sign an eleven-year contract with the US sportswear giant that still runs until 2022 while still a teenager. His million dollar contract includes bonus payments for appearances with the Brazilian national team, for successful achievements and in the event of his becoming World Player of the Year. Here is Nike’s Olympics commercial.

Other sponsors: include Red Bull, Panasonic, Konami and Gillette.

Achievements: Champions League winner and national champion with the FC Barcelona, semi-finalist at the 2014 World Championships and second place in the Olympics with Brazil in 2012, South American Football Player of the Year in 2011 and 2012, third place in the rankings for World Player of the Year 2015.

Usain Bolt: Holder of the world record and sprint star 

Estimated annual income: 32.5 million dollars. He is therefore the world’s fastest man and also in 32nd place on the Forbes list of the highest-earning athletes. The Jamaican is the only track and field athlete whose earnings are on par with what professional football, tennis, basketball, American football or baseball players earn.

Income sources: Generous bonuses? Nope. Bolt earns only 2.5 million dollars a year from his appearance fees, winning and record bonuses. Most of his income is paid by his sponsors: 30 million dollars.

Outfitter: Puma. In 2013, Bolt’s contract with the German sportswear giant was extended up to and including 2016. He is paid ten million dollars a season. Should he take part in the 2017 World Championships in London as well, he will get another ten million. Once his contract has run out, Bolt will earn four million dollars annually as a Puma ambassador. “Usain Bolt plays a decisive role in the Puma strategy for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and afterwards,” said Puma boss Björn Gulden. However, there has been criticism that Puma and Bolt are not making use of their partnership to the best-possible extent.Read all the details here:).

Other sponsors: Ten global and seven regional partners, including Virgin Media

Achievements: 6x Olympic champion, 11x World Champion over 100 meters, 200 meters and in the 4 x 100 meter relay races, world record holder over 100 meters (9.58 seconds) and 200 meters (19.19 seconds).

Many prominent professional golf players such as Phil Mickelson (number 8 on the list of the world’s highest earning sportspeople) or Jordan Spieth (number 9) will not be attending the Olympic Games in Rio, even though this will be the first time that golf joins the Olympic disciplines. Furthermore, the top 40 on the Forbes list also include many baseball and American football professionals whose disciplines are not an Olympic sport.

Read here: What the sponsors got out of the European Football Championships.

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Lars Becker

Lars Becker