Top 10 Most Bankable U.S. Athletes Voted By Altman Solon

Tom Brady, Serena Williams, and NBA stars are the most popular - or “bankable” - U.S. sports stars in 2021, according to analysis from the 2021 Global Sports Survey conducted by Altman Solon.
September 30, 2021 | 16:12

Following a year like no other for global sports, fans have returned to the stands, stars have changed teams, and leagues have continued signing mega-deals with media partners. Everyone on the U.S. top rankings is a domestic athlete, which is unique on the world stage.

“Global sports franchises, teams, and media partners understand that star players drive revenues and fan interest,” said Altman Solon Director Matt Del Percio. “The survey identifies which players are generating fan interest domestically and internationally, and our analysis shows that these bankable stars can have a positive impact on a franchise even after they’ve moved on.”

The “stickiness” of financial benefits from “bankable” players should encourage teams to use caution in signing top stars to long-term contracts or as they end their careers, but it also shows that investing in and promoting top talent is critical to a team’s popularity and financial viability. “Top athletes are key pillars of international growth for teams, leagues, and investors,” said Del Percio. “Our analysis indicates that growing a fan base, increasing fan intensity and loyalty, and subsequently targeting investments outside of home territories may be better served through marketing and monetizing top athletes over the team or league itself.”

Top 10 Most Bankable U.S. Athletes Voted By Altman Solon
Tom Brady (Photo: Los Angeles Times)

1. Tom Brady

Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. was born on August 3, 1977, in San Mateo, California, Brady excelled at both football and baseball at Junipero Serra High School. After graduating in 1995, Brady passed up a chance to play professional baseball to go to the University of Michigan.

Tom Brady was drafted by the NFL's New England Patriots in 2000, and the star quarterback has won three NFL MVP awards, four Super Bowl MVP awards and a record seven Super Bowl championships. He is also known for his marriage to supermodel Gisele Bündchen, according to Biography.

Top 10 Most Bankable U.S. Athletes Voted By Altman Solon
Patrick Mahomes (Photo: Biography)

2. Patrick Mahomes

Patrick Mahomes II was born on September 17, 1995, in Tyler, Texas, USA, to Randi Mahomes and Pat Mahomes, a former ‘Major League Baseball’ (MLB) pitcher. He went to ‘Whitehouse High School’ in Texas and played baseball and basketball apart from American football, according to Famous People

After starting his football career as a quarterback at ‘Texas Tech University,’ Mahomes went on to play for the ‘Kansas City Chiefs’ of the ‘NFL’ when he was drafted by the team in the 2017 ‘NFL Draft.’ During the 2018 ‘NFL’ season, Mahomes became the third player in the history of ‘NFL’ to contribute with 50 touchdown passes in a single season. As a result of his performance, he was named in the ‘First Team All-Pro’ and ‘AFC–NFC Pro Bowl’ all-star game. In the same year, he was named ‘AFC Offensive player of the year’ at the ‘101 Awards.’

Top 10 Most Bankable U.S. Athletes Voted By Altman Solon
Stephen Curry (Photo: NBA)

3. Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry, in full Wardell Stephen Curry II was born March 14, 1988, Akron, Ohio, U.S. Curry grew up immersed in basketball as the son of 16-year NBA veteran sharpshooter Dell Curry. He plays the point guard position. Many analysts and players have called him the greatest shooter in NBA history.

Curry became a national sensation during his sophomore season, when he led 10th-seeded Davidson on an improbable run to the Elite Eight of the National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s top-division basketball championship tournament in a performance that featured what would soon be recognized as his signature shot: a three-pointer from well outside the line, according to Britannica.

Top 10 Most Bankable U.S. Athletes Voted By Altman Solon
LeBron James (Photo: Grantland)

4. LeBron James

James was born on December 30, 1984, in Akron, Ohio. At an early age, James showed a natural talent for basketball. He was recruited by St. Vincent-St. Mary High School to join their basketball team in 1999. Overall, James scored 2,657 points, 892 rebounds, and 523 assists during his four years there.

LeBron James became an immediate star after skipping college to join the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers. He led the Miami Heat to NBA titles in 2012 and 2013 and won another championship with Cleveland in 2016, before joining the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018.

Top 10 Most Bankable U.S. Athletes Voted By Altman Solon
Tiger Woods (Photo: CNN)

5. Tiger Woods

Since turning professional in 1996, Tiger has built an unprecedented competitive career. His achievements on the course–106 worldwide wins and 15 majors–have mirrored his success off the course as well.

Woods serves as Founder and CEO of TGR, a multi-brand enterprise comprised of his various companies and philanthropic endeavors, including TGR Design, the golf course design company; The TGR Foundation, a charitable foundation; TGR Live, an events production company; and The Woods Jupiter, an upscale sports restaurant.

Top 10 Most Bankable U.S. Athletes Voted By Altman Solon
Serena Williams (Photo: British Sports)

6. Serena Williams

American professional tennis player Serena Williams has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles and several Olympic gold medals. She has held the top spot in the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) rankings numerous times over her stellar career. Williams began intensive tennis training at age three. She won her first major championship in 1999 and completed the career Grand Slam in 2003. Along with her individual success, Serena has teamed with sister Venus Williams to win a series of doubles titles. In 2017, she defeated her big sister at the Australian Open to claim the 23rd Grand Slam singles title of her career.

Top 10 Most Bankable U.S. Athletes Voted By Altman Solon
Kevin Durant (Photo: NBC)

7. Kevin Durant

Durant was a basketball prodigy as a youth, becoming one of the best prospects in thriving Washington, D.C.-area basketball scene by his early years in high school and an All-American in his senior season. He attended the University of Texas, whereas as a freshman he led the Big 12 Conference in scoring average (25.8 points per game), rebounding average (11.1 rebounds per game), and blocked shots (67).

He was also a first-team All-American and the first freshman to earn consensus National College Player of the Year honors. He elected to end his college career after just one season and was selected by the Seattle SuperSonics with the second overall pick of the 2007 NBA draft.

Top 10 Most Bankable U.S. Athletes Voted By Altman Solon
Phil Mickelson (Photo: Golfweek)

8. Phil Mickelson

Phil Mickelson, in full Philip Alfred Mickelson, byname Lefty, (born June 16, 1970, San Diego, California, U.S.), American professional golfer who became one of the most dominant players on the Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA) Tour in the 1990s and early 2000s.

He won dozens of San Diego-area tournaments as a junior golfer, and he captured an unprecedented three consecutive national Junior Player of the Year awards (1986, 1987, 1988). Mickelson joined the PGA Tour in 1992. His first professional win came in 1993 at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, where he had played golf matches in high school. In 1990 he won the U.S. Amateur Championship, and the following year he won his first PGA Tour event, the Northern Telecom Open, becoming only the fourth amateur to win a PGA tournament. He finally broke through with a major victory in 2004 when he won the Masters by one stroke over Ernie Els. His hot play continued through the rest of the season, and he finished in the top six in the remainder of the 2004 majors.

Top 10 Most Bankable U.S. Athletes Voted By Altman Solon
Photo: Britannica

9. Mike Trout

Mike Trout made his professional debut playing for the ‘Angels’ in the ‘Arizona League.’ He was their third-best prospect and ‘Baseball America’s 85th-best all-rounder. He was named a ‘Baseball America All-Star’ and a ‘Topps Class A All-Star’ at the age of 19. Trout made his major-league debut for the ‘Los Angeles Angels’ and became the team’s youngest player to hit two home runs in one game. He was the second-youngest ‘All-Star Game Most Valuable Player’ (MVP) after Ken Griffey Jr. and has created many more records.

Mike Trout has won many prestigious awards such as two ‘American League MVP’ (2014, 2016), the ‘American League Rookie of the Year’ (2012), two ‘Baseball America Major League Player of the Year’ awards (2012, 2013), the ‘ESPY Award for Best Major League Baseball Player’ (2015), and five consecutive ‘Silver Slugger Awards’ (2012–2016). He has also been the leader for “adjusted OPS,” “runs scored,” and “wins above replacement,” four times each.

Top 10 Most Bankable U.S. Athletes Voted By Altman Solon
Kyrie Irving (Photo: Sporty Tell)

10. Kyrie Irving

Born in 1992 in Melbourne, Australia, Kyrie Irving became a high school basketball star in New Jersey before briefly playing for Duke University. He was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, and in 2016, he teamed with LeBron James to give the Cavaliers their first championship in franchise history.

Along with his dazzling scoring ability, Irving is known for his "Uncle Drew" commercials and his controversial comments about the Earth being flat. After six years in Cleveland, Irving moved on to the Boston Celtics in 2017 and then the Brooklyn Nets in 2019.

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