The Best Deal Ronaldo Ever Made Was Selling His Image Rights

In 2021, Cristiano Ronaldo was able to charge

1.6 million dollars per Instagram post.

One click and he could afford a new house,

another click…

a new bugatti…another click…your soul…

you get the picture.

He is able to charge these crazy sums, because

he is the most popular person on Instagram.

Nobody has more followers than him.

Which is ironic, because he does not even

own his own image rights.

He sold them to this guy.

Welcome to Athletic Interest.

In this video we will explore how a poor kid

from Portugal became one of the wealthiest

athletes alive.

And why selling his image rights was the best

deal Ronaldo ever made.

Cristiano Ronaldo was born in Madeira, Portugal.

His mother had initially intended to abort

him, not wanting to raise another child in


Young Ronaldo shared a small room with his

brother and two sisters and claims to never

have had any toys growing up.

His big break came aged 12, when Sporting

signed him for their youth academy.

After impressing his coaches, Ronaldo decided

to quit school and focus on his football career.

At age 15 disaster struck…

Ronaldo was diagnosed with a dangerous heart

condition known as tachycardia.

This is when your heart beats at a rapid pace

even when resting.

But Ronaldo wasn’t going to let his heart

get in the way of his dreams.

After successful surgery to reduce his BPM,

he was immediately back in training and managed

to break into the Sporting first team a year


In 2003, Ronaldo helped Sporting defeat a

formidable Manchester United team.

Sir Alex Ferguson refused to leave Lisbon

without securing the 18-year olds transfer

to Manchester.

The move helped turn him into a global superstar.

This success also increased his bank balance,

thanks to clubs and sponsors giving him millions

every year.

But these lucrative contracts will eventually


The solution for most footballers: Diversification.

For example by starting their own businesses.

Ronaldo has opened hotels, fitness centres,

restaurants, apparel companies and even a

chain of hair transplant clinics.

And he’s about to relaunch his CR7 footwear

on our video sponsor Shopify.

In general, Footballers do not have the best

track record with these investments.

(headline: footballers have lost over 1 billion

from bad investments)

Even the mighty Zlatan’s has failed, with

his now defunct clothing line losing 18 million

in two years!

But Ronaldo’s business ventures are not

simply surviving, they are thriving!

The Pestana CR7 hotels are expanding across

the world and in 2019, the hair transplant

clinics generated more than 100 (114) million


How did Ronaldo succeed where others have

failed and build an empire on hotels and hair


To truly understand the magic behind the CR7

brand we need to take a look at two very important

moments that have shaped his business empire.

His winning strategy on social media and his

weird deal with the owner of Valencia’s

football club.

Ronaldo is the most popular human being on


He currently has over 380 million followers.

That’s more than all Premier League clubs


Or 76.000 times Athletic Interest.

Please follow us on Instagram…

How is this possible?

The social media account of a typical footballer

is boring.

A photo of them in training, a photo during

the game and a sponsored post about a workout

recovery device.

If we are lucky, we might get one picture

of their family dressed up as highlighters.

But Ronaldo’s account is different.

His posts can be broken down into four main



His Body

His Lifestyle

Sponsored Posts

Ronaldo understands that each category attracts

a completely different audience.

When he posts a photo in a Manchester United

shirt, he gets an audience of football fans,

but when he goes shirtless and rubs oil all

over himself, he gets another, slightly more

aroused audience.

By consistently posting in each category,

Ronaldo is able to grow his audience from

each of these unique angles – attracting football

fans and those who enjoy his luxury lifestyle

or admire his incredible physique.

Football is not even his most popular audience.

A topless photo of Ronaldo leaning against

a Bugatti received 8 million more likes than

an image of him lifting the Serie A trophy

with Juventus.

Ronaldo quite literally could not start selling

his own topless selfies for money.

This might seem a little confusing, let us


In 2015, Ronaldo sold his image rights to

Peter Lim, the current owner of Valencia’s

football club.

Image rights can be defined as a person’s

likeness, that is their image, name, nickname,

voice, signature and any other characteristic

that is unique to them.

Whenever a company wishes to use the likeness

of a footballer in an advert, They must obtain

permission, usually in return for a large


Essentially, the player has ownership of their

image and has the power to exploit it for

money or give someone else permission to do

the exploiting.

In 2009, Ronaldo handed over a large amount

of his personal image rights to Real Madrid.

The idea was that Madrid could use their global

brand to exploit his image for money.

It was a standard clause that all Madrid players

have in their contract.

As he gained worldwide fame, Ronaldo started

to notice the value of his image rights and,

in 2013, he re-negotiated majority control

of his image from Real Madrid.

The matter was so important to him that he

almost left Madrid.

But in the end they found an agreement.

He then decided to sell his personal image

rights to Peter Lim, a Singaporean businessman.

For six years, Peter Lim’s company Mint

Media was given control of Ronaldo’s likeness.

The company could decide when to allow his

image to be used for adverts, video games

and merchandise.

So, why would Ronaldo do this?

When the deal was announced, Ronaldo explained:

“This is a very strategic move for me and

my management team to take the Cristiano Ronaldo

brand to the next level, especially in Asia.”

Ronaldo spotted an opportunity to diversify

his audience and expand his popularity by

entering the Asian market.

Handing control of his image rights to Peter

Lim makes sense.

The Singaporean is one of the most prominent

businessmen in the region.

Peter Lim and Ronaldo are looking to capitalize

on the worldwide fame of the CR7 brand with

the launch of ZUJU GP.

The tech company aims to create a football

platform that bridges Asia and the west.

While it is not entirely clear what the company

will do, the website claims they plan to help

fans watch live games virtually, buy merchandise,

engage with players and bet.

The strategy appears to be working, Ronaldo

is consistently ranked as the most popular

footballer among Chinese fans.

Korean fans even called for Juventus to be

sued after Ronaldo failed to make an appearance

during a pre-season friendly against a Korean

all-star team.

From topless selfies to selling his image

rights, each decision was designed to introduce

Ronaldo to new audiences.

He has reached a level of followers like nobody

before him.

Who knows how it would have worked out had

he not negotiated back his image rights from

Real and teamed up with Peter Lim?

Back in 2015, Ronaldo was nowhere near being

number 1, but the likes of Justin Bieber and

Kim Kardashian dominated Instagram.

But CR7 overtook them all.

With Ronaldo near the end of his football

career, the only question that remains is

whether he will keep his crown as the most

popular person on the planet.

This video is part of our new series about

Business Athletes supported by Shopify.

In each video, we are going to explore the

story of athletes who used their determination

and competitive mindset to build something

on their own.

How they applied their winning strategies

from the track, field and pitch to succeed

in the world of business.

And create something beyond their sporting


Shopify is the perfect partner for this!

Because all the athletes we talk about are

actually using Shopify to build their businesses.

Ronaldo, for example, is relaunching his CR7


With Shopify, it’s super easy to set up

a store and just start selling whatever you’re

passionate about.

And just like they enable the best athletes

in the world to build their brands, they empower

small athletes and creators as well.

Actually, Shopify has helped millions of people

in 175 countries around the world start a


It’s never been easier to start from scratch,

Shopify gives entrepreneurs the resources

that used to be reserved for major corporations.

We hope this got you inspired and if it did:

make sure to check

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