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Cristiano Ronaldo: Living the dream of football, fashion & fame

Cristiano Ronaldo

“I’m living a dream I don’t want to wake up from.” – the Portugese football sensation, Cristiano Ronaldo, once said. Writer James Hutchinson takes a detailed look at how the former Manchester United winger has built a global brand to rival even the legendary David Beckham.

In 1990, Forbes magazine began tracking professional athletes’ earnings. Ever since then, only two team sport athletes have ever ranked number one; one was Michael Jordan. The other one, in 2016, was Cristiano Ronaldo. Cristiano plays forward on two teams in the most popular sport in the world, football. In the past 12 months, Real Madrid’s and the Portuguese national team’s lucky #7 has earned over $88 million and is currently the world’s highest paid athlete.

Cristiano is often ranked the best player in the world, while he was officially named the best Portuguese player of all time by the Portuguese Football Federation at its 100th anniversary celebration in 2015, after scoring his 500th career goal. ESPN also name Cristiano the world’s most famous athlete in June of 2016 and, strangely more importantly, he also got a Guinness World Record for being the most liked person on Facebook in 2015.

Suave, Sexy and Debonair

Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo has launched his own line of high-end underwear and socks

But the Portuguese’s fame goes way beyond football. Cristiano has become a fashion icon and is quite sought after by clothing and fragrance designers. He is admittedly a man who cares about how he looks and his popularity in the media makes people pay attention to everything he wears and every aspect of his lifestyle. As men’s fashion continues to change, Cristiano sets trends instead of following them.

In 2013, Cristiano launched his own line of high-end underwear and socks, the luxury collection CR7 (his initials and jersey number). He joined forces with New York designer Richard Chai to combine high quality materials with modern international design. The line was an instant success.

In 2014, Cristiano expanded the line to include premium shirts and shoes. Chai said of the collection: “The CR& Shirt collection has a nod to tradition in its premium finishing, but the details, materials and construction of the shirt is far more fashion forward, in line with Ronaldo’s personal style.”

Recently, Cristiano launched his own line of fragrances, debuting with Cristiano Ronaldo Legacy. The scent consists of an “exhilarating blend of fresh lavender and sparkling bergamot… orris, aromatic sage and rosemary… exotic patchouli and smoky veviter.”

Brand Ambassador Extraordinaire

It’s no surprise that Cristiano’s popularity has made him a much sought after brand ambassador. Almost a third of his earnings come from endorsements and sponsorships. However, his popularity makes things very easy for him: Cristiano doesn’t seem to accept just any cheque for his brilliant smile. He insists on involvement in the companies he works with, whether it is in the designing of products or merely endorsing something he already loves to do, like play poker.

cristiano ronaldo fragrance
Ronaldo has his own fragrance

His longest running partnership is with Nike, the biggest powerhouse of sport brands in the world. Cristiano originally signed a five-year deal in 2010 and recently signed another worth $105 million over the five years, currently the fourth biggest athlete endorsement deal in sports history.

In the fashion industry, Cristiano has worked with many. He has been seen modeling men’s underwear and designer jeans for Armani while he became a long-term brand ambassador for Tag Heuer in 2014. He also works with Gucci and he has his own line of lifestyle electronics with Monster.

One of his favorite pastimes off the field is playing poker. In fact, he recently aced the felt by defeating Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul in a game of heads-up poker, winning £15,000. His fierce competitive nature makes poker a natural attraction, and it was no surprise when he joined Team PokerStars as a brand ambassador as well. Upon doing so, he compared the game of poker with football, both of which appeal to him for “the intensity, flair and determination” they require.

Very recently, he expanded his personal brand into the financial world by becoming the official brand ambassador of CFD trading firm XTrade. Abut the partnership, Ronaldo simply stated, “to be the best you need the best.”

Popular and Personal

Cristiano’s popularity is unrivaled. He has over 215 million followers across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, making him only the third celebrity and the only athlete to ever cross the 200 million threshold. His social media value to brands is almost undervalued. According to digital media brand Hookit, “”The top 100 highest-paid athletes in the world generate about $375 million in value, and Cristiano drove 176 million by himself” – now that is a collosal feat.

Not only does he love to share his professional and personal life with fans, he also promotes his brands. He made over 255 posts on social media promoting a brand last year, generating $176 million in media revenue. The top 100 athletes in the world generate a total of $375 million, and Ronaldo creates almost half of that. His Facebook posts alone are worth an average of $145,000 for the promoted brand.

Nike Ronaldo
Ronaldo’s longest running partnership is with Nike, the biggest powerhouse of sport brands in the world – Image Source: nike.com

The service has now been discontinued, but the fact that it was created in the first is yet another testament Cristiano’s aptitude for social media.

Unlike many professional athletes, Cristiano sees the value in maintaining and building his own social media presence. Not only is he able to promote himself, his brands and his teams, he can also weed out the false “official” and unofficial pages that trouble so many other athletes and celebrities. He can call out false reports to a much larger audience than the fake page attracts, limiting his bad media. Smart business.

Focus of the Future

Cristiano is a driven man with a plan. He has recently been vocal about his future plans. His desire is to retire at the age of 41 playing for the Real Madrid. While his current contract is up in 2018, there are many reports of an extension in the works. Once retired, he has set his sights on expanding his brand rather than moving into coaching. He is proud to have had his own line of clothing since the age of 27 and desires to keep the brand CR7 growing. He is truly living the dream.