Lionel Messi is undoubtedly one of the most famous athletes in the world. The name “Messi” echoes with the non-soccer followers as well, which explains why Inter Miami game viewership went up by more than 70% when the Argentine joined them in the summer.
With name comes brand value, and the World Cup winner is associated with multiple brands such as Lays, Pepsi, Ooredoo, Budweiser, Mastercard, Saudi Arabia Tourism, Socios, Gillette, Turkish Airlines, and Adidas. Messi has also signed with Apple, and a four-part Messi documentary series has been announced by the company.
The same can be said for Cristiano Ronaldo; according to Forbes, he is the highest-paid athlete, having earned $136 million from his lucrative deals with Nike, Armani, Converse, Therabody, Delivery Hero, and his brands of hotels, clothing, gyms, etc.
Forbes has listed Messi in the second spot, having earned $130 million in deals, with more than half of it coming from his lifetime Adidas contract. He also launched his clothing line in 2019 and opened the first retail store in Barcelona. Currently, the Portuguese star earns more in endorsements with $90 million compared to Messi’s $65 million.
Lionel Messi’s Adidas contract
Lionel Messi has been pairing up with Adidas since the start of his professional career back in 2006. Their partnership became permanent in February 2017 when Messi signed a lifetime contract with the company, which would pay him $19.2 million every year and $1 billion throughout his lifetime.
The contract is a win-win for both parties, as not only does it provide stability for the soccer player, but it also uses one of the greatest players as its brand ambassador to promote new products to its audience.
📸 | A special shirt designed by Adidas honoring Leo Messi as the Most Decorated Player In Football History with 44 Trophies….🐐🖤 pic.twitter.com/jiwxHywKnH
— PSG Chief (@psg_chief) August 26, 2023
It is also being said that Adidas fuelled the move to Inter Miami as the contract deal reportedly includes profit sharing with Adidas, and also the option to purchase a minority stake in the club which is operated by David Beckham, another ambassador of Adidas. Adidas has also been one of the main sponsors of the MLS.
The Adidas deal Messi signed back in 2017 is ranked as one of the biggest sponsorship deals ever signed by a soccer player.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s most profitable endorsement
Like Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo also signed a lifetime contract with rival company Nike in 2016. They first paired up in 2003, and Cristiano Ronaldo became the first soccer player to get a lifetime contract from Nike.
The Nike deal is by far the Portuguese’s biggest endorsement deal and is set to earn him more than $1 billion over his lifetime and $24 million per year. Back in 2018, the Nike deal alone earned him a whopping $474 million. It is also reported that Ronaldo was offered a better lifetime contract with Nike than their previous two athletes, Michael Jordan and Lebron James.
Al Nassr announced Nike as their new kit supplier for the 2023-24 season.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s impact around the world 📈
(h/t @UtdKuna) pic.twitter.com/AEesUe3Pj4
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 4, 2023
Coming at the next spots are Herbalife, and TAG Heuer which makes Ronaldo the highest-earning athlete in 2023. Not to mention his properties and charity work also played a role in that.
Back in November 2022, Nike launched the Nike Zoom Mercurial Superfly 9 Elite CR7 FG, a special edition show celebrating the success of Ronaldo’s football career.