It has got nothing to do with the celebrity football match he recently played or the football team he owns, but Virat Kohli is now a more valuable brand than Argentina and FC Barcelona forward Lionel Messi. Cristiano Ronaldo is the only footballer ahead of Kohli, who is No. 7 on the Forbes list of most valuable brands among sportspersons.
Forbes calculates the brand value of an athlete by subtracting the average income of the top 10 athletes in the same sport from the total earnings of that athlete, excluding salary and bonus from their sport and all investment income. Forbes calculates Kohli’s brand value at US $14.5 million, a million dollars more than the No. 9 Messi, and $22.7m short of the biggest brand among athletes in sport, Roger Federer. In other words, Kohli’s endorsements earn him $14.5m more than the average endorsement income of the top 10 cricketers. Despite a major dip in their brand value over the last year, golfers Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods were in the top six.
Kohli, however, is neither the first Indian nor the first cricketer in the top 10 of the Forbes list. MS Dhoni, Kohli’s predecessor as India captain, was the fifth-most valuable sports brand among athletes in 2014, with his brand value calculated at $20m, a million lower than it had been in 2013. Even after he gave up Test cricket and captaincy, Dhoni was the tenth-biggest brand in 2016. His brand value, though, did take a big hit that year, coming down from $21m in 2015 to $11m in 2016. Now India’s captain in all formats, Kohli has made the big move up, which might be an indicator of how valuable the India captaincy is.
The IPL, however, failed to make it to the 10 biggest brands among sport and sport-entertainment events. Led by Super Bowl, the list has the two Olympics and the football World Cup featuring at No. 2 and 3.