It’s an open secret that the real money in sports isn’t in the team contract or the winnings, but in the endorsement deals. This is ever since Honus Wagner first signed on with Hillerich & Bradsby in 1905, putting his replicated signature on their own personal baseball bat, the Louisville Slugger. That kicked opened the floodgates, and now everyone is looking for that Nike or Adidas cash. Money’s money, regardless of your kicks.
But sponsorship beyond ‘active’ career earnings — the paycheck earned from showing up to the game or from winning the tournament — is a wildly variable thing. It could be as economically uninteresting as free equipment, or it could be mountains of cash. Actual mountains. Mountains you could rappel downward at a rapid pace.
We’re interested in the mountaineers, to sustain the analogy. We took a look into the biggest endorsees of the last year, across the globe, and with no sport unturned. Unfortunately, we had to quantify our list with money, rather than ‘awesomenitude,’ because science has not yet found an accurate metric for that. All endorsement info courtesy of opendorse.com.