With huge revenues, a colossal audience on social media, sponsors queuing up, and his brand on products from hotels to underwear, Cristiano Ronaldo has long been more than just a football player, reports AFP.
But CR7’s global brand may be tarnished by an accusation of rape in the United States, a complaint that dates back to 2009. “We are deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and will continue to closely monitor the situation,” a Nike spokesman told AFP.
Forbes magazine estimated that Ronaldo made $108m in 2017: $61m in salary and $47m from endorsements. While that’s a jump in $15m from the previous year, Ronaldo still dropped from first place to third.
Ronaldo’s great rival Lionel Messi moved to second, on $111m, after signing a new contract at Barcelona that increased his salary from an estimated $50m a year to a reported $86m.
At 33, Ronaldo reportedly accepted a slight wage cut in the summer when he moved from Real Madrid to Juventus, signing a contract worth a reported 30-31m euros a year after tax. Forbes calculated that this represents a drop in gross salary from the $66m he would have earned, with bonuses, at Real, to $64m at Juventus, where his contract reportedly includes no incentives and is entirely guaranteed.
Ronaldo outstrips Messi in sponsorhip, but the accusations against him have already made his main client anxious. His strongest links are with Nike, where he is in a “long-term-partnership.”
He has made his name a logo — ‘CR7’ — following the “jumpman” concept created by Nike in the late 1980S with another long-term partner Michael Jordan.
On arriving in Turin this summer, Ronaldo launched a new “CR7 Underwear” line with Italian garment company Yamamay.
For the sponsors, the five-time Ballon d’Or and top scorer in Champions Leaguehistory, with 120 goals (and counting), is an attractive brand.
His 330m total social media followers, more than any other sportsman, also helps draw sponsors. Among his blue-chip backers have included French telecommunications company SFR, Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer, game makers Konami and EA Sports, oil manufacturer Castrol and Emirates airline.
But Ronaldo makes at least 20 million euros a year, and, perhaps much more, from his deal with Nike, which began in 2003.
Forbes calculates that the Ronaldo is way ahead of and the more reticent Messi, who is with Nike’s eternal rival Adidas, in generating money for sponsors from social networks, saying that in 2016 Ronaldo was worth $500m to Nike on social media and Messi $53.3m for Adidas.