Bolt just shy of top 10 sports endorsements

Bolt just shy of top 10 sports endorsements

By Julian Richardson Assistant Business Co-ordinator

Friday, June 22, 2012

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He may not earn much from his day job, but Usain Bolt ranks just outside Forbes magazine's top-10 most endorsed athletes in the world, solidifying his status as one of the most marketable personalities across the globe.

Bolt made US$20 million from endorsements over the past 12 months, according to Forbes in its latest list of the world's 100 highest-paid athletes. His earnings from endorsements was the 11th most by anybody on the list, more than the likes of three-time world footballer of the year Lionel Messi (US$19 million), NBA superstar Dwayne Wade (US$12 million) and Formula One legend Michael Schumacher (US$10 million).

According to the magazine, Bolt's biggest sponsorship deal is with Puma and pays about US$9 million annually. Golf star Tiger Woods made the most money from edorsements in the past year with US$55 million, followed by tennis great Roger Federer (US$45 million) and colleague Phil Mickelson (US$43 million), said Forbes

Olympian Juliet Cuthbert thinks Bolt maybe the most marketable track and field athlete of all-time.

"The only other (track and field) person that was marketable across the world was Carl Lewis, but I think that Bolt is the most marketable ever," said Cuthbert, identifying Bolt's engaging personality as a major reason why advertisers flock him.

"Endorsements didn't come easy when it came to an (400m hurdles great) Edwin Moses, for example, because he didn't have a personality," she added. "Usain is more outgoing. He plays with the camera, plays with the crowd and gets people involved."

Cuthbert, a double silver medallist at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, agreed with Forbes that Bolt is expected to be the biggest star of the 2012 Summer Olympics. If Bolt lives up to the 'hype', his endorsement haul should shoot up significantly, she said.

"London is being hyped up and he is hyping it up to become a legend," said Cuthbert.

"If he gets the gold medals, as we think he should in the 100m, 200m and the relay, and of course if he breaks any of his world records, then definitely his marketability will go up," she said.

Along with Puma, Bolt's portfolio of endorsement deals include those with energy drink company Gatorade, telecommunication firm Digicel and Swiss watch maker Hublot.

Still, marketers believe Bolt would have been earning significantly more advertising dollars had he been American.

"Are you crazy?! It would've been astronomical," said Denise Williams, vice-president of marketing at Mayberry Investments.

"The US itself is a huge public relation machine. The culture is one in which marketing is both an art and a science, and Bolt would have benefited in that environment," Williams said.

Bolt was listed at number 63 in terms of overall earnings on the Forbes top-100 highest paid sports personalities list, getting paid US$20.3 million over the last 12 months. He reportedly earned US$300,000 for his on the track exploits over the period.

Top 15 endorsement earnings for athletes over last 12 months

Tiger Woods, Golf, $55m

Roger Federer, Tennis, $45m

Phil Mickelson, Golf, $43m

LeBron James, Basketball, $40m

David Beckham, Football, $37m

Kobe Bryant, Basketball, $32m

Rafael Nadal, Tennis, $25m

Mahendra Sing Dhoni, Cricket, $23m

Christiano Ronaldo, Football, $22m

Maria Sharaphova, Tennis, $22m

Usain Bolt, Track & Field, $20m

Lionel Messi, Football, $19m

Li Na, Tennis, $17m

Sachin Tendulkar, Cricket, $16.5m

Ernie Els, Golf, $16m

Source: Forbes

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