Nike athletes: A list of the most influential athletes sponsored by Nike

Nike athletes: A list of the most influential athletes sponsored by Nike

Kenneth Mwenda
updated at April 12, 2023 at 8:18 PM

While Nike is well known for its great sportswear and sneakers, it is also famous for its great deals with athletes. A Nike endorsement is a dream for any athlete, no matter the sport. from partnering with NBA legend Michael Jordan to working with golf legend Tiger Woods to sponsoring great NFL athletes, this list of influential athletes that are sponsored by Nike.

Nike athletes
Photo: (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Nike is one of the most well-known brands in the world. Its entry into the shoe industry had a significant impact on the industry. Nike capitalised on the fact that athletes were constantly in front of cameras by offering exorbitant sums of money for endorsement deals and advertisements.

The most influential athletes sponsored by Nike as of 2023

Over the last decade, the sportswear behemoth has partnered with some of the best athletes, raking in big bucks from the deals. The athletes involved in the deals are listed below.

10. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce

Top Nike athletes
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce reacts winning the Women's 100m during the Herculis EBS 2022, part of the 2022 Diamond League series on August 10, 2022 in Monaco. Photo: Valerio Pennicino
Source: Getty Images

Nike sponsors the Jamaican athlete. Fraser Pryce's career spans a decade and a half, from the late 2000s to the 2020s, making him one of the most enduring track athletes in history. Her track success, particularly her consistency at major championships, helped to usher in the golden age of Jamaican sprinting, and she is regarded as one of the greatest sprinters of all time.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce has been candid about her life, sport, and motherhood. When asked about her longevity, she says that having a complete life, her racing savvy, her approach to training, and her focus on the long term are what makes her so successful.

9. Russell Wilson

Nike athletes American football
Russell Wilson of the Denver Broncos watches from the sideline during their game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on November 27, 2022. Photo: Grant Halverson
Source: Getty Images

Russell Wilson is regarded as one of the greatest Nike athletes in American football. He is a quarterback for the NFL's Seattle Seahawks and the XLVIII Super Bowl Champion. Russell is one of the NFL's most influential athletes, with a combined following of over 12 million people across all three major social media platforms.

In addition to his $140 million four-year contract with the Seattle Seahawks, he has had a similar contract with a sportswear company that pays him approximately $35 million per year since 2016. No wonder he wears the Nike Swoosh, which has become synonymous with his Seattle Seahawks jersey. His merchandise sales are still among the highest in the NFL, and his start-up company Trace Me was acquired by Nike.

8. Naomi Osaka

Female Nike athletes
Naomi Osaka of Japan during a practice session in preparation for the US Open Tennis Championship 2022 on August 27th 2022 in Flushing, Queens, New York City. Photo: Tim Clayton
Source: Getty Images

Naomi Osaka is one of the top female Nike athletes. Her biggest sponsor is the world's largest sportswear company, which pays the world's highest-paid female athlete at least $10 million per year. Before the Nike deal, the Japanese tennis star had already begun leveraging her youthful personality and candour into a strong roster of endorsements.

Her victory over her idol Serena Williams in the US Open final raised her star. And it has not slowed down. Her popularity in both Japan and the United States helps Osaka gain endorsements, but more importantly, her ability on the court and demeanour off the court has set a powerfully positive tone.

7. Russell Westbrook

Can Nike athletes wear jordans?
Russell Westbrook of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Fiserv Forum on December 02, 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Photo: Patrick McDermott
Source: Getty Images

Can Nike athletes wear jordans? Yes, and this can be seen in Russell Westbrook's scenario. In 2017, he agreed to a 10-year contract extension with Nike's Jordan Brand that would keep him with the company until the 2025-26 season. The contract is one of the most lucrative total endorsement deals ever signed by a Jordan athlete.

He also got to launch his own shoe line on and off the court. Russell Westbrook is one of the highest-paid NBA players, thanks to his massive contract with the Washington Wizards.

6. Kylian Mbappé

Highest paid Nike athletes
Kylian Mbappe of France during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group D match between Tunisia and France at Education City Stadium on November 30, 2022 in Al Rayyan, Qatar. Photo: Visionhaus
Source: Getty Images

Nike has been Mbappé's official sports equipment supplier since his debut in senior football. In 2019, the French footballer signed a 10-year contract with the American sportswear company. Later, the Nike Boot Deal with him was announced ahead of the 2019-2020 season.

His new boot contract with the sportswear giant is worth £14 million per year. Mbappé's contract extension is a significant move for Nike because it secures the services of the world's most exciting player, who has the potential to fly the Nike flag in a post-CR7 market.

5. Tiger Woods

Top Nike athletes
Tiger Woods of the United States lines up a putt on the 1st green during Day Two of The 150th Open at St Andrews Old Course on July 15, 2022 in St Andrews, Scotland. Photo: Kevin C. Cox
Source: Getty Images

Tiger Woods has been a professional golfer since 1996. He has only worn Nike shoes since then, particularly on the field. He signed an exclusive deal with the athletic brand and began wearing their products the moment he stepped onto the professional course.

His longevity in the sport is one of his most impressive achievements. He is turning 47 years old this December and is one of the older players on the team. He has suffered numerous injuries throughout his career, including that horrific crash in 2021.

4. Rafael Nadal

Nike tennis athletes
Rafael Nadal celebrates a point during the match against Casper Ruud at Plaza Mexico on December 01, 2022 in Mexico City, Mexico. Photo: Ernesto Perez
Source: Getty Images

Rafael Nadal, one of the top Nike athletes, is without a doubt the most well-known tennis player who is sponsored by a sporting superbrand, though Naomi Osaka has given him a run for his money in terms of marketability. The sportswear giant owns the trademarked Raging Bull symbol, which appears on Nadal's custom-made clothing as well as a variety of clothing and other apparel for sale to the general public.

While the Raging Bull symbol has become synonymous with Nadal and is widely regarded as his personal logo, it is actually the property of Nike, who registered the trademark. Despite his modesty, Nike values his partnership with Nadal and pays him more than $10 million per year for the association.

3. Kevin Durant

Nike athletes basketball
Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets in action against the Orlando Magic at Barclays Center on November 28, 2022 in New York City. Photo: Mike Stobe
Source: Getty Images

Kevin Durant is regarded as one of the best athletes of his generation. Durant signed a seven-year, $60 million contract with Nike upon entering the NBA in 2007. Following his MVP season in 2014, Durant was awarded a 10 year new contract worth $300 million by the shoe conglomerate.

Unsurprisingly, Kevin Durant's shoe deal with the sportswear firm is by far the most lucrative endorsement deal the two-time NBA champion has ever signed. Despite this, Durant may surpass this total when he re-enters sneaker-free agency after the 2023-2024 season. His social media following is also among the most extensive in the NBA.

2. LeBron James

NBA Nike athletes
LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers warms up before a game against the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum on December 02, 2022 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Photo: Patrick McDermott
Source: Getty Images

LeBron James, the NBA's megastar, is one of the most famous and influential players in the league. The basketball player signed his first contract with Nike in 2003, during his rookie season, and it has been a long and profitable partnership ever since.

His contract with Nike was signed in 2015, reportedly worth more than a billion dollars. Not only has James performed admirably on the court, but he has also aided Nike's bottom line.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo

Lifetime Nike athletes
Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal looks on during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 match against Korea Republic at Education City Stadium on December 02, 2022 in Al Rayyan, Qatar. Photo: Quality Sport Images
Source: Getty Images

CR7, one of the highest-paid and lifetime Nike athletes, requires no introduction. With over 500 million followers, the Portuguese footballer is the most-followed person on Instagram (November 2022).

Ronaldo, like LeBron James, signed a multi-billion dollar contract with Nike in 2016. As one of the world's most famous social media influencers, it is safe to say Ronaldo generates far more revenue for Nike than any other athlete on this list.

Nike has been able to partner with some of the best athletes in sports, allowing the giant sportswear company to thrive for a long time. This has also allowed the athletes to wear their custom-made costumes.

READ ALSO: What is the highest-paid professional sport in the world?

Sportsbrief has published an article about the highest-paid professional sport in the world right. Professional athletes make significant sums from their salaries from playing the games and the revenue they receive from sponsorship deals. Every competition helps the competitors earn a sizable sum of money. Click the above link to read more!

Kenneth Mwenda photo
Kenneth Mwenda
Kenneth Mwenda is a business and sports writer with over five years of experience. At Sportsbrief, he contributes to writing biographies and listicles.