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The Most Valuable Athlete Brands And Their Representation

Sep 29, 2012; Medinah, IL, USA; Tiger Woods smiles after finishing his round in the afternoon session of the 39th Ryder Cup on day two at Medinah Country Club. Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

Yesterday, Forbes released its Fab 40: The Most Valuable Brands In Sports.  One of four sections focuses on athlete brands, which looks at the amount in endorsements that athletes in all sports receive and subtracts the average endorsement income of the top 10 athletes in their respective sports to come up with a final figure.  The following is a list of the top 10 most valuable athlete brands:

1. Tiger Woods – $38 million
2. Roger Federer – $29 million
T3. Phil Mickelson – $26 million
T3. David Beckham – $26 million
T3. LeBron James – $26 million
6. Kobe Bryant – $18 million
T7. Usain Bolt – $17 million
T7. Mahendra Singh Dhoni – $17 million
9. Cristiano Ronaldo – $11 million
10. Sachin Tendulkar – $10 million

It is remarkable that Tiger Woods remains number 1 after all of his issues off (and on) the course.  Woods has stayed with his agent Mark Steinberg since becoming a professional golfer.  Steinberg, once Director of Global Golf Business at IMG Worldwide, now leads the golf division at Excel Sports Management.  Woods has maintained total confidence in his agent, and for good reason.

Roger Federer was also once a client at IMG Worldwide, but when his longtime agent Tony Godsick left the company, so did Roger.  While IMG Worldwide initially remained hopeful that Federer would return as a client at some point, that hope is probably now lost.  Federer and Godsick have been developing their own sports agency; an agency that will have a client who earns $40-50 million per year (that client’s name is Roger Federer).

There are many other noteworthy stories concerning the representation of the athletes listed on the Fab 40, including LeBron James’ new selection of Rich Paul to be his agent.  Not long after James appointed Paul to represent his interests, it was found that the NCAA is investigating Paul’s relationship with University of Texas point guard Myck Kabongo.  While the investigation does not concern James (as far as what is publicly known), you can bet it is not the kind of press a brand new agent wants to receive…especially an agent who represents an individual tied for the third spot on Forbes’ list.

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.