The Most and Least Successful Athlete-owned Companies

Sports Business Index
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Many of the world’s most recognizable brands are founded by entrepreneurial athletes, from sportswear companies like Air Jordan to CR7’s underwear line. Our experts reveal the most and least successful business endeavours of some of the world’s most respected athletes, looking at online popularity and market capitalization.

Starting a business is often a gamble for athletes — much like playing online slots at an online casino, the outcome is impossible to predict. For some athletes, the risks pay off and result in creating some of the world’s most beloved brands, while for others, the initial investment fails to return a profit.

We’ve looked at brands associated with athletes in a variety of sports, and it’s clear that the popularity of the athlete can impact their businesses’ success. The most successful athlete-owned brands are associated with high-profile sportspeople who are mainstream celebrities, like Cristiano Ronaldo and Steph Curry.

While athlete business endeavours span various industries, including beauty, skincare, and food, it is most common for sports stars to enter the fashion world. From sportswear like Air Jordan and Castore to CR7 eyewear and underwear, athletes often take pride in their image and style, so it’s no surprise that many athletes have seen success through their fashion brands.

The most successful athlete businesses

most successful athelete businesses

1. Nike Jordan - Michael Jordan | Business score: 9.82/10

Michael Jordan is known as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, with six NBA championships under his belt, so it’s no wonder that Nike’s Air Jordan brand is the most successful athlete-owned business. Famed for its innovative marketing and designs, Air Jordan has maintained popularity since its inception in 1985.

The brand has 27.8 million Instagram followers, more than any other athlete-owned business, and generated over $5 billion (C$6.8 billion) in revenue for Nike in 2022 alone. It is the most Google-searched athlete-owned business in the world.

2. SpringHill Entertainment, Uninterrupted, Ladder, Blaze Pizza - LeBron James | Business score: 8.22/10

LeBron James is one of the most revered basketball players in the world, winning four NBA championships and being named NBA MVP four times. No stranger to the business world, LeBron is associated with various companies, including SpringHill Entertainment, Uninterrupted, Ladder, and Blaze Pizza.

LeBron’s businesses have almost 1.7 million Instagram followers combined and received over 8 million global Google searches in the last year. SpringHill Entertainment and Blade Pizza have a combined valuation of $975 million (C$1.3 billion).

3. CR7 - Cristiano Ronaldo | Business score: 7.50/10

Cristiano Ronaldo is often regarded as one of the greatest football players of all time. The five-time Ballon d'Or winner capitalized on his success by founding his brand, CR7, which produces fragrances, eyewear, underwear, and footwear.

CR7 has 10.3 million Instagram followers and a valuation of $120 million (C$163.4 million). The brand also received 21.3 million global Google searches in the last year.

most successful athlete businesses table

Fitap is the least successful athlete-owned business - Business score: 0.36/10

least successful athlete-owned business

Fitap was one of the newest athlete-endorsed businesses and did not achieve international success, which could be why the brand has the fewest Instagram followers and Google searches from Canada.

Founded in 2022 by Wales rugby union internationals Gareth Anscombe and Alex Cuthbert, Fitap aimed to connect consumers with gym owners, personal trainers, sports clubs, and health and fitness centres. Fitap has 2,115 Instagram followers and received 12,360 Google searches worldwide in the last 12 months. The company was recently acquired by Sportin Wales, in March 2023, and its latest valuation was $1.3 million (C$1.8 million).

Air Jordan is the most followed athlete-owned business - 27.8 million Instagram followers

most followed athlete-owned business

Air Jordans are among the most coveted sportswear brands, famous for their unique style and limited-edition collections. Some collections are even worth up to $30,000 on the resale market, including the Chicago Air Jordan 1 1985, originally sold for $65. The jumpman23 Instagram account, where new releases, behind-the-scenes photos, and celebrity features are shared, has 27.8 million followers.

Curry X Under Armour is the most valuable athlete-owned business - $14 billion | C$19.1 billion

most-valuable-athlete-owned-business

Stephen Curry’s Under Armour collaboration encapsulates stylish designs and comfortable styles. Curry Brand, most famous for its sneakers and athleisure, including jackets, t-shirts, and caps, is valued at $14 billion (C$19.1 billion).

Air Jordan is the most searched athlete-owned business in the world and Canada - 22.1 million | 462,810 searches

most searched athlete-owned business

Air Jordan has been a part of popular culture since its first sneaker release in 1985, so it’s no wonder the Nike brand is the most Googled athlete-owned company on our list. Many celebrities, including Travis Scott, Michael B. Jordan, and Kylie Jenner, have endorsed the brand, boosting its mainstream popularity in recent years.

Methodology

We compiled a list of athlete-owned brands using Go Banking Rates and Business Live, including brands in which athletes own or have invested in.

We sourced each brand’s market cap or valuation using Screen Rant, Yahoo Sports, The Wolf of Franchises, Atreya Digital Health, Bar Bend, Private Equity Wire, AS, Prolific North, CBS Sports, Marca, Zoom Info, Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Finance, Outlook India, Pod Clips, Company Check, Cience, Crunchbase, Pitchbook, Markets and Research, and Tracxn. All figures were converted to USD and CAD on 20/05/2024 using Google Finance. For Air Jordan, we sourced the money made in 2022.

We sourced the number of Instagram followers for each brand using Instagram on 17/05/2024.

We sourced the number of global and Canadian Google searches for each brand from May 2023 - April 2024 using Google Ads Keyword Planner.

We gave each brand a normalized score out of 10 for each factor before calculating the average score out of 10 for each brand to form the ‘business score /10’.

We removed all brands for which the relevant information was unavailable.


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V: 1.51.0 All rights reserved. January 2020
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