Oct 13, 2022 - Sports

Exclusive: Brand deals in women’s sports are on the rise

Illustration of the female icon made of a money pattern

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Brand deals for female athletes and teams grew 20% year-over-year in 2022, and USWNT star Alex Morgan was the most-endorsed athlete, per exclusive data from deal tracking platform SponsorUnited.

By the numbers: Morgan secured 27 brand deals between September 2021 and September 2022 to vault her to the top of the list. Her biggest sponsors include Coca-Cola, Google and Chipotle.

Top 10:

  1. Alex Morgan (soccer)
  2. Serena Williams (tennis)
  3. Naomi Osaka (tennis)
  4. Lexi Thompson (golf)
  5. Leyla Fernandez (tennis)
  6. Hanna Cavinder (basketball)
  7. Ali Krieger (soccer)
  8. Sue Bird (soccer)
  9. Venus Williams (tennis)
  10. Olivia Dunne (gymnastics)

Between the lines: The finance sector, already the most active among women's sports sponsors, increased their activity in the space by 30% to lead all verticals, followed by apparel/accessories and media.

  • Women's golf saw the most growth, with the LPGA scoring 940 deals to beat out the WTA (923 deals) and the NWSL (496).
  • Nike was the top sponsor in both college and the pros, beating out Adidas.

What they're saying: One key driver of this growth is the continued rise of social platforms, where female athletes' engagement outpaces their male counterparts, SponsorUnited CEO Bob Lynch tells Axios.

  • "Brands are being pressured to be more data-driven, and what we're finding with female athletes and teams is that it's a great place to test and launch campaigns, similar to what we saw in the music festival space years ago."
  • "They have incredibly passionate fan bases, and audiences both on television and in-person are up across the board, which makes it easier for brands to participate in this space."

Download the full report.

Go deeper