In modern day sports, eye-popping multi-million contracts are fairly commonplace. What sometimes goes unrealized, however, is that a number of big name sports players make their biggest money off the court or field—namely through lucrative product endorsements.
As a result, big contracts with sports organizations are no longer the only way to bring home the bacon. For many athletes, building a brand and public image is an essential step towards earning even bigger paydays with big retail and apparel companies. And make no mistake: A brand endorsement contract is a very big payday indeed. Through endorsement deals, some athletes make almost double what they make in their sports earnings.
After being retired for more than a decade—well past his earnings prime as an athlete—basketball great Michael Jordan raked in an estimated $100 million through endorsements in 2015, a testament to how powerful a personal brand can be when it has the backing of a corporate brand. Using estimates from various publications, CNBC looks at the endorsement earnings of a handful of marquee sports figures at the top of their game, both in sports and money.