In 2021, Cristiano Ronaldo was able to charge
1.6 million dollars per Instagram post.
One click and he could afford a new house,
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
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
The move helped turn him into a global superstar.
This success also increased his bank balance,
thanks to clubs and sponsors giving him millions
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
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
A photo of them in training, a photo during
the game and a sponsored post about a workout
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 shopify.com/athleticinterest
or the link in the description for a free
14 day trial of Shopify and build your business
Thanks a lot for supporting our content!