PARIS: Roger Federer landed the top spot on the annual Forbes list of highest-paid athletes for the first time this year with $106.3 million in pre-tax earnings. The Swiss ace is the first tennis player from the sport to take the No.1 rank since the list debuted in 1990.
Federer’s haul includes $6.3 million in prize money and $100 million from endorsements and appearance fees, lifting him from the No. 5 spot he held in 2019 and beating his previous high of second place in 2013.
“His brand is pristine,” says David Carter, a sports business professor at USC Marshall School of Business, “which is why those that can afford to align with him, clamor to do so.”
Federer’s endorsement portfolio is unmatched among active athletes, with 13 brands including Barilla, Moet & Chandon and Rimowa paying between $3 million and $30 million to associate themselves with the 20-time grand slam champ.
The 38-year-old joins golfer Tiger Woods as the only two active athletes to hit $100 million in a single year from sponsorships alone.
Federer’s on-court resume is the stuff of legend with the men’s records for most slam titles and weeks ranked No. 1 (310). The consistency is staggering. He ranked in the top three for 750 straight weeks—almost 15 years—and qualified for 18 out of 19 slam finals between 2005 and 2010.
Call it the Jordan playbook, the blueprint for global domination chronicled in ESPN’s 10-part documentary on the basketball great,
It made Jordan the richest athlete on the planet and the first billionaire athlete, who even in retirement continues to collect endorsement checks rivaling Federer and Woods, thanks to his massive cut of Nike NKE Jordan Brand sneaker sales.
The three breathe a rarefied air that’s reserved only for the most elite competitors. Jordan had the No. 1 spot on the Forbes six times during his 13-year career with the Chicago Bulls, eventually giving up the mantle to Woods after he retired from the Bulls in 1998 (F1’s Michael Schumacher held the crown for two years between Woods and Jordan). —Agenciers