While athlete endorsements can be traced back decades, pro sports players deals have only just doubled in the last three years. One primary reason is the increase in brands seeing value in working with athletes, and the impact of social media might also play a small role in this staggering jump. There has been a 55% increase in total brands doing deals over the last three years, up to 1,816 brands with deals across professional athletes in the 5 Major Pro Sports (MLB, MLS, NBA, NFL, NHL).
Player performance and social media growth can be pinned as the biggest factors tied to player deals. As one or both go up, so do the number of brands looking to partner.
No surprise, the apparel category has three of the top five brands ranked by endorsement deals. Nike, adidas and Jordan Brand come in at 1, 3 & 5 respectively. Within the emerging category of Crypto & FinTech, FTX, Cash App & Crypto.com all expanded their athlete portfolio with five or more athlete endorsements.
Instagram is the most popular social media platform for brands. With new features allowing consumers to purchase with just a click, brands are storming the platform with their athlete endorsements in tow. And while it may appear that all your favorite athletes have multiple deals, there’s still 64% of professional athletes (across the 5 Major Pro Sports) that have zero.
Almost ⅓ of all athletes with at least 1 endorsement deal, actually have 3 or more. While only 18% of brands with 1 player deal actually have 3 or more. Eight of the top 10 athletes in terms of total endorsements come from within the NFL, however, Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves, is tied for the #1 spot with Aaron Jones in terms of most endorsement deals across the Major 5.