Usain Bolt is truely the fastest man in the world, he has made several records in sprinting, especially in 100 metres, though he’s also good in 200 metres, he’s worth over 60 million dollars. This year, it has been estimated that he will be the 32nd highest-earning athlete on the planet. Forbes’ latest celebrity rich list placed the sprinter at number 91.
To put that in context, he is the only track and field athlete to make the top 100 sports stars, and makes roughly 20 times more than the average sprinter. The available statistics tell a mixed story, and some sources suggest that it might even be much more than this: a full-time athlete in the United States earns around £12,780 a year, whilst those in Canada face an annual deficit of £10,750; in which case Bolt is to the average athlete what Bill Gates is to my seventeen-year-old self with a summer job.
The winner of the annual Samsung Diamond League receives around £31,000, which is a career-altering amount for most athletes, but just 1.24 per cent of Bolt’s average yearly takings; his earning power within his sport is unprecedented.
The sprinter, who peaked in 2013 as the 48th highest-earning celebrity in the world, is set to earn a further £3,100,000 a year as a global ambassador for Puma until 2025, and also boasts endorsement deals with Gatorade, Hublot, Virgin Media, Visa, and Nissan Motors.
Where does this money come from? Britain’s young sprint talent Jodie Williams has been nicknamed “Moneylegs”, but the most valuable levers on the planet belong to one man only – the man in the golden spikes: Usain Bolt.
Get ready for some serious number crunching.
Despite the sport’s rapidly-increasing popularity and terrific excitement value, prize money in athletics is pretty insubstantial – unless you’re Usain Bolt.
The winner of an individual Diamond League race receives just under £8,000 – the culmination of months of work. Cristiano Ronaldo takes about four-and-a half hours to earn that much in wages alone. Bolt has managed this 23 times, and has won an overall Diamond League Race once: that’s about £210,000 so far.
A gold medal at the IAAF World Championships is worth around £46,500, a silver £23,000, and a world record £77,500 (Usain Bolt doesn’t do bronze medals, and has only once deigned to pick up a silver). He has 11 golds, one silver, plus two individual and two relay world records. That’s £728,250 at major championships (Jamaican athletes don’t receive prize money for Olympic or Commonwealth medals, unlike other nations).
— Usain St. Leo Bolt (@usainbolt) August 18, 2016
On top of that, the sprinter can command huge appearance fees, given his headlining potential, reaching the dizzying heights of £270,000. If he runs a typical non-championship 100 metres in 10 seconds, that’s £27,000 a second. Take that, Cristiano.
Does he justify such sums? Absolutely. Usain Bolt single-handedly sells out stadiums. His appearance at the 2010 Penn Relays in Philadelphia saw the single highest attendance in the event’s 118-year history, of over 50,000 spectators. Rumour has it that Mike Barber, a fellow competitor, heard the roar accompanying Bolt’s arrival on-track, and assumed the President had arrived.
The hottest ticket at the London Olympics was, without a shadow of a doubt, the men’s 100 metre final, for which organisers – who received more than a million entrances into the ticket ballot for the event – were able to charge up to £874 per seat.
Before the Beijing Olympics, Usain Bolt’s only sponsor was his kit supplier, Puma, which has supported the star since his junior days, and Digicel, a Jamaican mobile phone company.
His importance to the former cannot be overstated: the brand’s CEO, Jochen Zeitz, estimated Bolt’s marketing value at just over £277 million after his history-making efforts at the 2009 Berlin World Championships.
The German sportswear brand provides his largest pay cheque by some margin, and the athlete receives the astronomical sum of just under £8,000,000 a year for his troubles: more than the annual fees commanded by Maria Sharapova, Kobe Bryant or Cristiano Ronaldo from kit giant Nike.
— Usain St. Leo Bolt (@usainbolt) August 16, 2016
In terms of sponsorship, Bolt jostles not with other track stars, but global icons like Lionel Messi and LeBron James, and years featuring in major championships make him an even hotter commodity for his 10 global and seven regional partners.
Usain Bolt’s Corporate Sponsors:
The known sums
- Puma – £7,750,000 a year
- Gatorade – £2-3,000,000 a year (plus a bonus every time he’s pictured drinking it)
- Visa – £500,000+
- Virgin Media – £2,000,000
- Digicel – £100,000
- Soul Electronics – £100,000
- Regupol – a world-class track installed at his training venue in Jamaica
- All Nippon Airways
- Gibson Innovations
- Enertor (insoles)
- Optus, Telkom, Fastweb, Celcom
- Banco Original
One can’t help but wonder why McDonald’s hasn’t got in touch with the Jamaican yet. He famously ate 1,000 chicken nuggets during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and has been known to treat event volunteers to burgers from the brand. He’s also hugely charismatic, instantly recognisable, and can run a 9.58 second 100 metres with chicken nuggets in his system: he’s the perfect spokesperson.
Perhaps they’re concerned that any marketing gains might be offset by the sales they would subsequently lose to Bolt himself.
After all, the man is worth almost £47,000,000 and counting: that’s a lot of nuggets.
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