The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia kicks off Thursday on Fox FOXA , with 32 nations set to compete in a 64-match tournament over the next month. Billions of people from over 200 countries are expected to watch, which means, for many, the stars are likely the main attraction. And there are few more well-known and revered athletes-or people-in the world than Lionel Messi. This means the Argentinian superstar makes a lot of money off the field, so let's take a look at how to invest in one of soccer's biggest stars.
The World Cup is a big-budget marketing dream, attracting the likes of Visa V , Budweiser BUD , McDonald's MCD , Coca-Cola KO , and many more to spend millions of dollars to promote and attach their brands to FIFA. Meanwhile, Messi himself is linked to one of the World Cup's biggest partners and other powerhouse companies.
Messi made his debut for FC Barcelona-one of the richest and most famous clubs in the world-in 2004. The 5-foot-7 inch soccer giant made his first appearance for Argentina in 2005 and played in his first World Cup the following year in Germany. Since then, he has transformed into one of the best soccer players ever and a major brand ambassador.
The German sportswear powerhouse Adidas signed Messi to a contract in 2006. Today, he is one of the faces of the brand and signed a "lifetime" deal with Adidas last year-similar to Nike's NKE deal with LeBron James. Messi's Adidas deal helps contribute to the $27 million in sponsorship money he made over the last year. These off-the-field earnings lifted Messi's overall earnings to $111 million-boosted by his massive new Barcelona contract-landing him second on Forbes' list of the world's highest-paid athletes.
Messi is an Adidas man, but he also generates millions of dollars for rival Nike because Barcelona is sponsored by the Oregon-based company. In fact, Messi reportedly generated $111 million in value for Nike over the past 12 months through social media-with rival and Nike star Cristiano Ronaldo doing the same thing for Adidas since his club side, Real Madrid, is sponsored by Adidas.
A post shared by Leo Messi (@leomessi) onMay 30, 2018 at 12:02pm PDT
Cleary, investors will note just how impactful one of Messi's sponsored Adidas posts can be on Instagram, where he boasts 93 million followers-among the most on the platform. He also has over 88 million Facebook FB followers, and his own dedicated YouTube GOOGL page-he notably does not have a Twitter TWTR account.
His social media reach helped him land the number three spot on ESPN's DIS World Fame 100 list, behind only Ronaldo and James. This is also part of the reason why he is a valuable partner to a slew of other companies aside from Adidas.
The 30-year-old is also a pitchman for Mastercard MA and PepsiCo PEP , through Gatorade, Lays, and Pepsi, as well as wireless company Ooredoo, and many more. So now let's take a look to see how the companies Messi is directly involved with have performed since the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, where Messi and Argentina lost in the final to Germany.
Clearly, Adidas stock has surged over the last four years. Meanwhile, Mastercard stock is up big since the last World Cup, while Pepsi has trailed the S&P 500, as consumers' eating and drinking habits rapidly shift.
Messi is one of a few players who is able to have an outsized impact on his team and his brand partners.
In Russia, Argentina is once again one of the favorites to win the World Cup. So make sure to come back to Zacks for more World Cup business updates and to see what impact Messi might have on Fox's and Telemundo's CMCSA coverage.
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