How Roger Federer became richer than Elton John, Kim Kardashian and the Queen
Wednesday - 04/07/2018 21:05
HE SPENDS $1000 on a haircut, but for someone who earns $77 a minute that is nothing. Here is how Roger Federer built his empire.
When the world’s best-paid walking billboard puts on a new outfit, it’s big news.
Reigning Wimbledon champion Roger Federer stepped out at the All England Club this week in new Uniqlo kit after 23 years with Nike, reports The Sun.
Worth $41 million a year, Federer’s latest contract is the most valuable sports sponsorship deal in the world.
The 20-time Grand Slam winner had managed to keep his new sponsor under wraps until he appeared on court in the Japanese clothing brand’s white jacket, top, shorts, socks, and headband.
Expected to continue long after he retires, the ten-year deal is a major coup for Uniqlo which hopes to use the association with Federer to promote its colourful clothing to middle-aged fans.
After his straight-sets win against Serbian Dusan Lajovic, the star handed his branded headband to a girl in the crowd in a perfect PR move for Uniqlo.
He continues to wear trainers made by his previous clothing sponsor Nike — but he is battling with the US multinational over the “RF8” logo on his footwear.
The emblem is his initials and a reference to his eight Wimbledon singles titles.
He admitted: “The logo is with Nike, but it will come to me — I hope sooner rather than later. They are my initials.”
It is perhaps little surprise that Nike is keen to hang on to a bit of Roger.
From razors to Rolex, squeaky-clean and super-successful Federer is a big draw for commercial sponsors — and he has made more money from endorsements than any other sports star on the planet.
He has won a staggering $157 million in prize money, but that is dwarfed by the $1 billion-plus earned in sponsorship.
Those deals have made him richer than Elton John, Kim Kardashian — and even the Queen.
So what makes Brand Federer so special? For starters, ever since he was a youngster he has barely put a foot wrong.
In 2001, as a fresh-faced 19-year-old, he took Wimbledon by storm, eliminating reigning champion Pete Sampras in the fourth round.
Two years later, he became the first Swiss man to win a Grand Slam when he conquered Australia’s Mark Philippoussis.
After he turned pro in 1998, Federer’s agency International Management Group signed sponsorship deals with Nike shoes, Wilson rackets and Emmi AG, Switzerland’s largest dairy.
But Federer was annoyed by how IMG managed his packed schedule which paid relatively poorly, and he ditched the firm in 2003.
It proved to be a shrewd decision. That same year he won Wimbledon — his maiden Grand Slam victory.
He started his own management company, a four-person team comprising a lawyer, a financial adviser, mum Lynette, and then girlfriend — now wife — Mirka to look after media relations and travel.
Roger Federer Management was born and ushered in the era of big bucks.
For a while, it seemed mum knew best. Lynette realized her son wanted to be a role model and enjoyed dressing up in designer clothes. RFM just needed to persuade big brands to pay him to do so.
In 2004 he became the first man since 1988 to win three Grand Slam tournaments in the same year, suddenly shooting him to the top of every brand’s wish list.
The relentless attention was overwhelming and Federer reluctantly returned to IMG — who wouldn’t make the same mistake twice.
It quickly brought him a $21 million deal with Rolex. Mercedes-Benz, Gillette, Lindt chocolate and many others followed.
IMG capitalised on Federer’s clean-cut image of a personable and reserved character who would not be seen dead falling out of nightclubs.
Always the perfect gentleman on court, Federer resisted the urge to follow his fellow athletes in the unspoken grunting competition during matches.
One title that has eluded him is Olympic champion. At London in 2012 — his last Olympics — Andy Murray beat him to take gold.
PR guru Mark Borkowski says: “When this man loses there’s no tantrums. He is incredibly warm to people when they beat him. He’s the sort of perfect package.”
Unlike some top athletes, Federer has yet to fall from his perch. Fellow IMG client Tiger Woods was the golf’s most valuable star until his scandalous extramarital antics and substance abuse landed him at the bottom of the pile in 2009. In a year, he lost $28 million of endorsements.
Federer’s life of domestic bliss could not be more different to the shamed golfer.
Wife Mirka, a former tennis pro herself, is mother to their two sets of twins — Charlene and Myla, eight, and Leo and Lenny, four.
Federer brings his beloved brood with him all over the world.
On court, the kids are decked out in Oscar de la Renta gear as they watch dad play while Mirka opts for Valentino. Roger and his wife wear matching Rolexes. At the Australian Open this year, Federer wore a rare Sky Dweller on his wrist — thought to be worth more than $40,000.
The glamorous clan travel by a private jet, which normally costs a cool $180,000 for every 24 hours of flight time. Luckily, Federer gets mates rates as he is a brand ambassador for NetJets.
If they’re driving, it’s in one of his six Mercedes-Benz cars — another perk of sponsorship.
But even in a convertible, there’s no danger of a hair out of place.
Federer pays $1000 a pop to his New York barber Tim Rogers — a drop in the ocean for a man who earns $77 a minute.
PR expert Borkowski adds: “He is the ultimate pro. He’s always delivered and at the height of his career he was winning everything in front of him.
“Brands want winners. Sponsors want to be associated with winners.” And winners want champagne — so it is just as well Federer is also sponsored by Moet & Chandon. The drinks brand paid homage to his 20th year as a professional tennis player with a limited edition magnum costing $30,000.
All these perks suggest Federer’s incomings far outstrip his outgoings.
But one thing he does splash out on is bricks and mortar.
Federer has three houses. During the cold winter months he heads to his exclusive penthouse overlooking the Dubai Marina.
The 52-storey Le Reve tower is also home to Formula One driver Fernando Alonso.
Federer said: “For me it worked very well in terms of travelling.
“Of course, you may be a little bit far away from everything but you’re kind of close to everything because you’ve got a lot of direct flights.
“I come home and feel like, maybe I’m not in Switzerland but it still feels a little bit like home.”
When he is back on home soil, Federer chooses between a holiday home in the Swiss Alps and his glass mansion on the tranquil shore of Lake Zurich.
The former pad, nestled in the mountains of Graubunden, was built from scratch and cost a reported £13.25million.
Two separate luxury chalets were linked together to house Federer and his family in one while his parents live in the other.
His main Wollerau base, 20 minutes north of Zurich, has floor-to-ceiling windows offering magnificent lake views.
The area has one of Europe’s lowest tax rates and has consequently attracted other minted millionaires.
A genius on the court and super savvy off it — no wonder Federer has established the most valuable empire in sport.