There is, believe it or not, a finite amount of advertising money out there–and all the big names have to share the same pie. So when somebody’s piece of the pie gets bigger, others are left with smaller slices. Now let’s make one thing abundantly clear: this is an incredibly big sweet juicy pie we’re talking about–just ask Kevin Durant, whose nearly $300 million deal with Nike this summer didn’t even make him part of top ten conversation. But still, whatever marketing fortune LeBron James gets has to come out of somebody’s pocket.
This year, according to Forbes, that pocket belonged to Tiger Woods. Woods has held the #1 spot as a sports-related brand since 2008. But last year EA Sports ended its 14-year-long deal with Woods as an endorser and that helped LeBron topple Tiger from the top spot. James was only happy to move into #1. (He’s been doing a lot of moving lately.) James’ marketing value was estimated at $37 million a year, up a full $10 million over the year before. (Who knew moving to Cleveland was so damn profitable?) Woods remains in second place–six years from his last victory in a major championship. Tennis legend Roger Federer is in third. Ryder Cup malcontent Phil Mickelson is 4th. And the Indian cricket player Mahendra Singh Dhoni is 5th. He’s worth $20 million a year to brands around the world.