Business Weekly (Zimbabwe)

World’s first US$150m tennis player


After winning his 3rd round match on Friday at Wimbledon, Novak Djokovic secured himself a minimum prize of US$ 250 000, officially becoming the first profession­al tennis player (or golfer) to cross US$ 150 million in career prize money.

Even crazier? Despite more than 100 career wins and 15 major championsh­ips, not even the world’s best golfer — Tiger Woods has US$ 121 million in career prize money earnings — has made more than Novak Djokovic in competitio­n.

But prize money only tells part of the story. What do Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, Serena Williams, Cristiano Ronaldo, Simone Biles, Tiger Woods, and Roger Federer all have in common?

Well, there is an incredible work ethic, a motivation to be the best, and a relentless competitiv­e spirit that isn’t able to be measured, but financiall­y, each of these “GOATs” made more money off the court, field, or course than they did on it.

Michael Jordan might be the best example. If you asked 100 sports fans today who the greatest basketball player of all time is, maybe you’ll get 10-20 LeBron James, Kobe Bryant’s, or Wilt Chamberlai­n’s, but the reality is, over 80 percent of people would still probably say Michael Jordan. The crazy part? Michael Jordan “only” made about $90 million during his NBA career, which is significan­tly less than a whole host of less talented players.

Even Scottie Pippen — the Robin to Michael Jordan’s Batman for nearly a decade— made almost US$ 20 million more than MJ did during his NBA career.

The difference? Endorsemen­ts. I’m convinced that no athlete in sports history has done a better job monetizing their IP than Michael Jordan. There are sponsorshi­p deals with companies like Gatorade and Hanes, which pay the NBA legend millions of dollars annually two decades after retirement, but the real winner is Nike.

Since signing a five-year deal worth US$ 500 000 annually as a 21-year-old rookie in 1984, Michael Jordan and Nike have expanded their relationsh­ip into one of the most profitable individual- IP- driven businesses in sports history.

The Jordan Brand — a subset offering within Nike’s brand portfolio — did US$ 4.7 billion in sales last year (+31 percent yearover-year). For context, that’s more revenue than athleisure competitor Lululemon did last year ( US$ 4.4 billion).

Even better, with a ~5 percent royalty structure in place, Michael Jordan will take home over US$ 200 million from Nike alone. Not only is that more than 2x what he made during his entire NBA career, but as Nike continues to expand the Jordan Brand through new product offerings, the royalty checks are only going to get bigger. — Huddle Up (Online Newspaper).

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