Giannis Antetokounmpo cracks top-20 of Forbes’ Highest Paid Athletes

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - FEBRUARY 28: (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - FEBRUARY 28: (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

As he continues to grow his endorsement foothold, Giannis Antetokounmpo has made his way into the top-20 of Forbes’ Highest Paid Athletes list.

The wait to return to basketball is likely leaving the ultra competitive Giannis Antetokounmpo more than a little agitated given the position the Milwaukee Bucks were in before the coronavirus pandemic brought the NBA season to a halt.

With the latest developments suggesting the season will resume in late July, Antetokounmpo and the Bucks will eventually get a chance to finish the campaign by chasing down the NBA’s ultimate success. While that wait goes on, Antetokounmpo can at least take solace in his incredible success off the course.

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That was highlighted on Friday as Forbes released the 2020 edition of their famed, annual highest paid athletes list, with Giannis Antetokounmpo slotting in at 18th overall.

That leaves Antetokounmpo in incredible company across the top-20, with superstars from other sports around the world in that tier including Roger Federer, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Tiger Woods, Conor McGregor, and Lewis Hamilton.

In terms of NBA players, Giannis is behind only LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden. It’s noteworthy that everyone in that group has at least one MVP award, but given that Antetokounmpo is due a bump up in salary in the not too distant future, and may only have his reputation further bolstered by a second consecutive MVP win, it seems inevitable that Giannis will only be climbing up that board over the next couple of years.

In total, Forbes put Antetokounmpo’s earnings for the year at $47.6 million, with endorsements making up $28 million on that front. Of the six aforementioned NBA players, it’s worth noting that Giannis’ current salary comes in approximately $9 million lower than the closest of those peers, yet the Greek’s endorsement earnings already outperform both Harden and Westbrook.

In other words, while one of the questions around Antetokounmpo’s future often points to whether he’d need to move to a larger media market to really earn his worth in endorsements, the current indications would suggest that Giannis is having no issues in picking up deals, both national and international, from his Milwaukee base.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is already the sixth highest earning NBA player, and only looks set to rise up Forbes’ list as he continues to expand his business ventures.

News also emerged on Thursday of one of Giannis’ latest off-court endeavors, something which could certainly factor into his off-court earnings over the next few years.

CNBC reported that Antekounmpo has agreed to terms on a deal with Ready Nutrition that will see him take an ownership stake alongside L.A. Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Explaining his rationale for investing in a start-up company rather than taking an endorsement with an already established brand, Giannis noted:

"“This is not an endorsement deal,” Antetokounmpo told CNBC of his first brand investment. “Obviously, I can help the brand and go out there and sell it to everybody, but this is not what this is. … this is a company I really believe in.”“I could go with Gatorade, I could go with BodyArmor, but at the end of the day Ready was the right fit for me,” Antetokounmpo added."

With a successful signature shoe line with Nike, along with past deals with major brands such as 2K, Hulu, and T-Mobile, and a Disney movie about his life in the works (which Forbes suggest is planned for a 2022 release), Antetokounmpo’s star only continue to shine.

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For Bucks fans, the hope will be that it only gets even brighter in Milwaukee over the remainder of his career.