Latino Sports Stars Continue to Rise Among the World’s Elite Endorsers

What: Forbes has issued its annual Top 100 Highest Paid Athletes list, with a record of 17 Latinos earning mention.
Why it matters: The earning power of Latinos worldwide is stronger than ever, with opportunities for these athletes, whether primarily English or Spanish speaking, continues to increase.

This past week Forbes (@Forbescame out with its annual list of the Top 100 Highest Paid athletes in the past year, and for brands looking to engage Latino athletes, the news is stronger than ever.

Of the 100, 17 are Latino, the highest amount ever on the list, with sports ranging from soccer and basketball to boxing and auto racing. Their appeal is global, and their brand resonance and the loyalty of their followers is higher than most athletes on the list.

Forbes’ earnings figures for the list included all prize money, salaries, and bonuses earned between June 1, 2017 and June 1, 2018. In the case of baseball players, the listed salary will include salary from the 2017 and 2018 seasons, as well as any signing, award or playoff bonuses.

Endorsement incomes are an estimate of sponsorship deals, appearance fees and licensing income for the 12 months through June 1 based on conversations with dozens of industry insiders. The golfers’ income includes course design work. Forbes does not deduct for taxes or agents’ fees, and does not include investment income. The list includes athletes active at any point during the last 12 months.

While Americans naturally dominated the list with 65 athletes thanks to the sky-high salaries in the major U.S. sports leagues, The Dominican Republic and Spain had three athletes each, while Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela all have two.

The world’s elite soccer players, Messi, Ronaldo, and Neymar are all top five earners, and with World Cup in the horizon, their brand value will continue to rise. Other soccer stars on the list include Oscar (at 56), Luis Suarez (60), and Sergio Aguero (86). Three MLB stars with deep Latino roots, Miguel Cabrera (54), Yoenis Cespedes (71), Felix Hernandez (63) and Albert Pujols (49) are there, along with NBA players Al Horford (51), Brook Lopez (95), Carmelo Anthony (38) and Marc Gasol (84).

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Boxer Canelo Alvarez (US $44.5 million) was a big mover up the list. Alvarez jumped 28 spots to 15, while tennis star Rafa Nadal was again among that sport’s elite.

Messi (credit: Wikimedia/Oemar)

“We are in a time now where I think the global success of athletes is becoming clearer, especially due to social media and philanthropy,” said Harrie Bakst, co-founder of Weinstein Carnegie (@wcpgco), a firm which specializes in cause marketing around athletes and celebrities, including Pele’s foundation. “There was a time when you would walk the streets of New York or Chicago and mention a global soccer star like Messi and people would not know who he was. Now you see more young kids with Barcelona jerseys than Knicks jerseys sometimes. The language, especially Spanish, is less of a barrier and that’s great news for the athletes, brands, and sports in general. The opportunity is only going to get bigger.”

The list is a great reflection of what the marketplace is seeing, that ROI for brands no longer has to be hyper-local, if athletes are engaged they can create demand around the globe, and with the rise of Latino buying power in North America, their athletes, whether they are English or Spanish language first, are becoming more and more of a force in the business world.


Cover image: Keith Allison