Ten most valuable sponsorships in sports history from Tiger Woods to Ronaldo

The wealthiest sports stars on the planet usually make a huge portion of their yearly earnings through lucrative sponsorships – including Tiger Woods and Cristiano Ronaldo.

With manufacturers of equipment and clothing desperate to see the most famous athletes on the planet wearing their gear, hundreds of millions of pounds can change hands to make it happen.

With juggernauts Nike and Adidas competing against each other, the likes of Uniqlo and Under Armour have also signed up some of the most famous sporting heroes in recent years.

Daily Star Sport have taken a look at ten of the biggest deals of their kind, with Woods joined on the list by rival Rory McIlroy and Ronaldo being joined by old foe Lionel Messi.

Roger Federer – Uniqlo

Back in 2018, 20-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer surprised his loyal fans by revealing that he would be leaving Nike to wear Uniqlo gear on a ten-year deal despite his advancing age.

ICON report that the £219million the Japanese brand offered couldn't be matched by Nike, who chose not to offer their services into the retirement of the Swiss legend.

Federer had been working with the American brand for 21 years in total, and while initially wearing Nike shoes after the deal, Uniqlo now make their own.

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LeBron James – Nike

LeBron James signed a rare lifetime deal with Nike back in 2015, in a sponsorship deal that is said to be worth over $1billion (£733million) by the time he reaches his 60's.

The 36-year-old has been an NBA champion on four separate occasions, and was the most valuable player in each of 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013.

Cristiano Ronaldo – Nike

Cristiano Ronaldo was the first association footballer to sign a lifetime deal with Nike, signing the agreement back in 2016 and he continues to wear their boots at the highest level.

The 36-year-old has also been tipped to earn over $1billion (£733million) from the contract, as he continues to work with the brand after retirement.

Earlier this year, Forbes reported that Ronaldo earned over £100million in total between 2020 and 2021, with just under half of it coming off the field.

Michael Jordan – Nike

Michael Jordan is said to have made in the region of £1billion since his association with Nike begun in 1984, making him their highest earning athlete as of now.

The 58-year-old remains the most famous basketball player in history, winning six NBA championships and being named as the finals MVP on the same amount of occasions.

Lionel Messi – Adidas

Not to be outdone by rival Ronaldo, Lionel Messi has been loyal to Adidas since his career took off with Barcelona back in 2006, and it has now been extended to a lifetime deal.

The 34-year-old is reported to make around £20million a year from the agreement, although he did earn a larger amount of the £100m he took home last year in club wages.

Messi might not be as famous as Ronaldo worldwide, but his profile has been boosted by his move to PSG in the summer and could be again by a potential MLS switch down the line.

Rory McIlroy – Nike

The first golfer on the list is Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy, who remains one of the most well-known faces in the sport despite his lack of form in recent years.

The 32-year-old signed a ten-year deal back in 2013 worth around £180million, which requires him to sell a certain amount of his branded Nike clothing.

Steph Curry – Under Armour

Golden State Warriors icon Steph Curry signed a deal with Under Armour back in 2013, and it is worth an estimated £16million a year until 2024.

The 33-year-old was an NBA champion in each of 2015, 2017 and 2018, and was named as the most valuable player in the franchise in both 2015 and 2016.

Curry remains one of the league's star performers, and will be looking to emulate LeBron by staying at the top for another three seasons at least.

Kevin Durant – Nike

Next up is Kevin Durant with Nike, who signed a 10-year deal with the brand back in 2014 which was worth up to around £270million, and also includes a $50million retirement fund say Pledge Sports.

The 33-year-old was an NBA champion in each of 2017 and 2018, and was also named the finals MVP in each of those seasons for the Golden State Warriors.

Tiger Woods – Nike

Despite his lack of form before his huge return at the 2019 Masters, Tiger Woods remained one of the highest earners in the sport thanks to his deal with Nike.

The 45-year-old initially signed a deal worth around £30million back in 1996 for five years, with ESPN reporting than an extra five years cost the brand around £80million.

With the deal being extended again in 2008 and 2013, it is currently unknown how much his most recent agreement was worth.

Kei Nishikori – Uniqlo

Another tennis star signed up by Uniqlo is Kei Nishikori, who represents male Japanese tennis.

His 2016 deal was said to be worth more than World No. 1 Novak Djokovic at the same brand at the time, despite his failure to reach a Grand Slam final since his 2014 defeat at the US Open.

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