Like other sports apparel companies, Adidas sponsors renowned athletes to carry the brand and gain a massive boost in its popularity and merchandise sales. Boasting a broad horizon of endorsers, they partner with superstars across all sports, paying them up to hundreds of millions of dollars, a hefty reward to complement these athletes’ talent, achievements, and influence among consumers. Here, let’s take a look at the most famous athletes sponsored by the legendary three stripes.
1. Lionel Messi
Highly regarded as one of the greatest soccer players of all time, Lionel Messi’s success and popularity all over the world enabled him to ink some of the most lucrative sponsorship deals in the sports arena. The ‘Atomic Flea’ has been associated with Adidas since 2006, and in 2017, he penned a lifetime deal with the company.
While the size of the contract wasn’t revealed, it is estimated that Messi earns $27 million from Adidas annually without lifting a finger. His ultimate contemporary in sporting records and achievements, Cristiano Ronaldo, has his own lifetime contract with Nike, making their rivalry transcend outside the football field.
2. Damian Lillard
Back in 2012, Adidas acknowledged Damian Lillard’s potential, immediately signing the Portland Trail Blazers point guard for an endorsement deal after he won the NBA Rookie of The Year Award the same year.
In 2014, only in his sophomore year, a 10-year contract extension was made amounting to $100 million, which made him one of the highest-earning NBA players at that time. His signature shoe line under the company is called “Adidas Dame.”
3. David Beckham
An outstanding midfielder and a charismatic persona on and off the pitch, David Beckham is among Adidas’ most popular and influential athletes. His unmatched style, terrific performance during his stint with Manchester United and Real Madrid, and marketable personality make the “Golden Balls” a genuine asset for the German sports giant.
In 2003, Beckham inked a lifetime contract with Adidas worth $160 million, which was one of the biggest sponsorship deals Adidas entered during that time. Though already retired, Beckham continues to earn annually from the said agreement. Moreover, he also signed other endorsement deals, including ones with Pepsi, H&M, Armani, and Gillette.
4. Derrick Rose
Donning the Chicago Bulls uniform, Derrick Rose made waves in the NBA after being the youngest MVP in the league’s history in 2011. Seeing another Michael Jordan in the making, the sports giant penned a $180-million 14-year sponsorship deal with Rose. In addition, Rose had other perks, such as access to a private jet and donations to organizations.
Sadly, Derrick Rose suffered from an ACL tear in a playoff game against the Philadelphia 76ers. Since then, injuries hampered his game, causing him to be traded to the Knicks in 2016, then moved to the Cavalier in 2017, and to the Timberwolves in 2018. In 2019, he transferred to the Pistons before seeing action with the Knicks and reuniting with his former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau in 2021.
5. Ana Ivanovic
Apart from famous football players, Adidas also signed other popular athletes in other sports, such as Serbian tennis female star Ana Ivanovic. A former world no. 1, she wore the three stripes for a long, long time in her professional career and continues to do so even after retiring from competitive tennis in 2016. Ivanovic penned a lifetime partnership with the German sports brand and continues to join initiatives and programs by the company, including the promotion of its eco-friendly clothing collection.
6. Paulo Dybala
Formerly wearing Nike, Paulo Dybala currently dons the Adidas Copa soccer cleats, placing him among the biggest names carrying the brand in the world of football. The Argentine and Juventus attacker signed with Adidas prior to the 2018 FIFA World Cup. In an interview, Dybala said he’s delighted to join the distinguished sports brand and take part as Adidas pushes the limits of creativity on and off the pitch.
7. James Harden
James Harden is highly regarded as one of the best all-around NBA players and prolific scorers, often generating near triple-doubles in every outing. Attestations to that are when he won the 2018 NBA regular season MVP, and his 10x NBA All-Star and 6x All-NBA First Team selections.
In 2015, Adidas swayed Harden away from Nike after successfully signing “The Beard” under a 13-year contract amounting to $200 million. The said deal is among the most notable deals that the three-stripes brand has secured in recent years. Taking into account Harden’s dedication, performance, and success, Adidas without a doubt secured a gem in this sponsorship.
8. Donovan Mitchell
Donovan Mitchell’s name didn’t ring a bell until he became part of the Utah Jazz in 2017. He became an integral part of the team’s playoff run for two consecutive years and won the NBA Slam Dunk King contest as a rookie. Adidas might have felt the need to act quickly, signing “Spida” under a multi-year contract in 2017 worth $5-15 million per year.
Mitchell has a signature sneaker line with the company called D.O.N, which is an acronym play on his name translating to “Determination Over Negativity.” Continuing to shine and improve his play in every game, we can only expect to see long, long years of partnership between Adidas and Mitchell.
9. Zinedine Zidane
A French legend, Zinedine Zidane became famous for steering his country in winning the 1998 World Cup against Brazil and the 2000 European Championship against Italy. His talent is superb, showcasing splendid ball control and extraordinary vision on the pitch. Thus, causing nightmares for his opponents.
With his majestic presence, flair, and grace, he went on to make big headlines. Adidas saw just that and took advantage of Zidane’s global popularity, partnering with him throughout his career. Retire in active play but found immense success as a manager, Zidane continues to be a part of the three-stripes company ad campaigns even today.
10. Mohamed Salah
Egyptian Mohamed Salah is another renowned football player sponsored by Adidas. The Liverpool superstar and one of the sport’s most in-form players is the icon of the German sports brand’s attempt of dominating the African markets. Salah serves as the counterpart of Sadio Mane and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who represent New Balance and Nike, respectively, in the continent.
Adidas, like other sports brands, such as Reebok, Nike, Puma, and Under Armour, do their best to sign partnerships with numerous famous athletes to be the face of their company. While these deals may be lucrative, it pays as it helps the brand establish its presence among consumers and keep its stature in the world of sports merchandise.