First Billion Dollar Contract in Sports: When Will We See This?

It looks like Kylian Mbappe is about to turn down $776M from the Saudis at the age of 24.

kylian mbappe $776M offer from Saudi Arabia

Right decision? Wrong move?

Either way, it got me thinking…when will we see the first $1B contract in sports?

Let’s Dive In 👇

Athletes Are Worth X, Y, or Z?

The simple answer…

Athletes are worth whatever someone is willing to pay.

Ok. But that doesn’t really get us anywhere.

Let’s head to the data.

Contracts Are Growing Exponentially

Nowadays, contracts are bigger than ever, and it’s a trend seen in every league.

2021 saw record-shattering numbers…

But just two years later these 2021 deals feel like bargains.

2021-2023 graphic sports

2023 is off the charts:

  • MLB: Aaron Judge 9-years, $360M
  • NBA: Jaylen Brown 5-years $304M
  • NFL: Justin Herbert 5-years $262.5M
  • Soccer: Messi (MLS), Ronaldo (Saudis)
  • Golf: Mickelson, Johnson, Koepka w/ LIV

This gives a good scope for growth over the years…

nba top salary 1946-2021

I came across a fascinating case study by Seven Yards Back on how long it will take to reach the first $1B contract in baseball.

Check this out 👀

First $1B MLB Contract

First, it’s important to understand how we’re going to predict this using Facebook’s forecasting tool called Prophet.

facebook's prophet forecasting tool

Here’s the data we’ll input:

  • dataset made up of two columns
  • dates (ds)
  • values associated with those dates (y).
  • linear or logarithmic growth
  • how many periods (days, months, years) to have predictions for

With these in mind, I gave Prophet the signing years and values for all 667 MLB contracts and asked it to show me the predicted average contract value over the next 100 years.

I set the growth to logarithmic — with the assumption that there is not endless possible growth to the maximum amount of money an athlete will be awarded at one time.

The result is incredible:

predicted first $1B contract in baseball

What is all this saying?

  • The black dots are each of the 667 contracts
  • the x-axis is the future year
  • the y-axis is the future predicted contract average (as a proportion of one billion)
  • the dark blue line is the predicted average for a given year
  • the light blue shading is room for variance over the same years

Summarizing this

1️⃣ At no point in the next 100 years does the predicted average for contract value eclipse $800M, much less $1B.

2️⃣ Divide $1B by 3.4469 (our CAA) to get $290,115,528.35.

When the predicted average contract value equals ~$290M (given the historical multiplier given to the top contract) that’s when a $1B contract will be feasible.

3️⃣ 2067 is, according to this estimate, the year in which the MLB is most likely to award the first-ever sports contract worth $1B.

That’s just what the data says…

Personally, I think we could see $1B before that in baseball (and his name is Shohei Ohtani).

Shohei Ohtani contract pic

In terms of other sports leagues — unless the Saudis offer $1B to an athlete I think 2067 is a reasonable estimate as well.

And we’re just talking about payments for an athlete’s day job…

Off the field how much are these athletes worth?

Athletes True Value

Today’s podcast episode with Brandon Harris was very interesting…

In summary, Playmaker HQ got acquired for $15M with considerations of up to $54M should they hit their milestones.

Better Collective acquires sports media platform Playmaker HQ

Playmaker’s media arm has:

  • 20M social media followers
  • 500M monthly impressions

This got me thinking…

How much would the rights for an athlete sell for?

There are multiple NBA players with ~20 million social media followers and hundreds of millions of impressions per month.

If 20 million followers and 500 million impressions are worth ~54 million, how much would the rights to an NBA player of equal stats go for?

Makes you think 💭 (and also makes you realize why Ronaldo charges nearly $2M for an IG post and why Lebron has a $1B lifetime deal with Nike).

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