On the latest Sporticast episode, hosts Scott Soshnick and Eben Novy-Williams are joined by Sportico colleague Kurt Badenhausen to discuss some of the biggest sports business stories of the week, including Badenhausen’s list of the world’s 100 highest-paid athletes, published on Wednesday. NBA star LeBron James tops the list at $127 million in the past 12 months, followed by a trio of soccer players—Lionel Messi ($122 million), Cristiano Ronaldo ($115 million) and Neymar ($103 million).
James has become the archetype of the modern athlete entrepreneur, choosing to skip lucrative one-direction endorsement deals in pursuit of investments and partnerships that let him share in future growth. The 37-year-old has nearly 200 million followers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter—the Los Angeles Lakers, by comparison, have 42 million—and he’s been able to flex that influence to boost businesses he owns, such as Blaze Pizza and The Springhill Company.
Naomi Osaka, the highest-paid female athlete in the world—No. 20 overall, at $53 million—is starting to do the same. The 24-year-old is leaving mega-agency IMG to launch her own representation firm alongside her longtime agent Stuart Duguid. Other star athletes have made similar moves, including James, but she’s the first female athlete at this level to set out on her own. The move should allow her to share in more upside on her future deals, and it could eventually grow into representing other athletes.
The trio closes with two other stories from the week. First, they discuss Tom Brady‘s reported 10-year, $375 million broadcasting deal with Fox, which is more money than he’s made in NFL salary over his entire career. Then, they talk about FIFA splitting from EA Sports, which has made the popular FIFA video game franchise for the past three decades.