It’s no secret that product endorsements are some of the NBA’s biggest moneymakers—show us a basketball player on the Forbes 100, and we’ll show you a massive sneaker deal and other partnerships making them rich. However, there’s another (arguably easier) way these athletes are padding out their multimillion-dollar paycheques. Opendorse, an online sports marketing firm, has shed light on an often-overlooked, but hyper-visible, source of popular basketball players’ incomes: social media. It’s no secret that brands seeking notoriety will pay players gobs of dough to give them a shout out on Twitter, but few would have guessed that their rates could hit as high as $10,000 per character. See below to see which NBA players have the most valuable online personas.
The world’s most well-known athlete is a good place to start. Opendorse estimates that LeBron James generates $44 million in total endorsements every year from companies like Beats by Dre, Nike and Coca-Cola, making him the fourth-greatest off-court earner in all of sports. With a Twitter following approaching 22.6 million followers—need we remind you that President Obama only commands 3.7 mill—he’s one of the most influential players in the game, too. By Opendorse’s estimates, an average endorsement tweet under LeBron’s name costs $139,474, or roughly $996.24 per character.
KD is sports’ fifth-biggest earner in terms of partnerships, pulling in an estimated $35 million per year from contracts with Nike, 2K Sports and Degree. Of that, Opendorse estimates that he makes roughly $66,553 per tweet to his 11.3-million Twitter followers. That pegs his cost-per-character at a handsome $475.38, which is less than half of LeBron’s going rate.
The NBA’s third most valuable online asset is Kobe Bryant, who ranks 11th in the world among sports endorsement earners for his work with Nike, Hublot and BODYARMOR. He makes $26 million in total endorsements per year, by Opendorse’s estimates. With just over 7 million followers on Twitter, he charges roughly $302.84 per character, raking in roughly $42,398 for his every tweet.
He may find himself the butt of internet jokes due to his proneness to injury, but Derrick Rose gets the last laugh as sports’ 18th-highest endorsement earner. His 2.3-million-follower strong Twitter account lets him charge an estimated $11,350 for every tweet, according to Opendorse. It may not be as high as the rates other NBA athletes charge, but when’s the last time you made $81.07 per character on your last status update?
D-Wade makes $12 million every year from his partnerships with Dove, Gatorade and Hublot. The 22nd-highest off-court earner in sports commands 4.8 million Twitter followers, and earns roughly $28,276 per tweet. That’s $201.97 per character going to Dwyane Wade.
Worth a million at 19—not bad
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