The Athletes with the Most Valuable Brand

Endorsement deals are the perks many of the top athletes take in for their popularity for the achievements they have made on the playing field. It goes without saying that an athlete is most valuable as an endorsement of product following an MVP or a world championship title. Golfers have an advantage over most professional athletes because they can compete competitively well in their forties while we see a significant decline these days from NFL, NBA, Soccer, Tennis and Major League Baseball athletes as they reach their mid to late thirties.

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Tiger Woods has to be at the top of this list. One advantage is the fact he doesn’t have to rely on teammates and for the most part coaching to achieve stardom in his sport. One benefit for Tiger as a golfer is the fact the sport attracts are more affluent audience with more disposable income. With the senior tour we could see Tiger on the golf course competing competitively in the Senior PGA well into his sixties. With a professional career spanning some 40 years there is no one brand more valuable than Tiger Woods.

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Although he is no longer an NBA player Michael Jordan’s stock could dramatically rise in time. He is an NBA owner and will be for the rest of his life on earth of the Charlotte Bobcats. Kobe Bryant has very few years left to play in the NBA and Lebron James at 27 years old has about 8 years left to play at his peak in the NBA. Michael Jordan is 48 years old and if he lives to 88 years old that means he will still have an ownership role in the NBA for at least another 40 years with his name still meaning something for advertisers. Yes the Charlotte Bobcats are a bad team right now but with the right general manager, head coach and players the Bobcats could turn around the franchise. And reaping all the rewards will be M.J. in the owner’s box.

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Oscar De La Hoya was a popular boxer in the ring during the Olympics and as a professional but has ventured into a highly significant role in the sport of promoter and owner of Golden Boy promotions. At 39 years old he still has 40-50 years on earth to enhance his brand name. What makes De La Hoya attractive here is the fact his two biggest competitors are promoters Don King and Bob Arum. These two men are in the twilight of their careers as King and Arum are both 80 years old. I understand the US Heavyweight picture is pretty gloomy right now but that can change. Golden Boy Promotions could land some big time USA born Heavyweight champions in boxing and once they do Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions brand will skyrocket.

When measuring an athlete’s brand status in the marketplace one must look beyond their playing careers. You have to recognize that athletes who are in ownership roles will reap endorsement roles for 50-70 years in total to that of a 15 year playing career of an athlete who fails to own any sports team following his playing career.