Nike ended its contract early with Brazilian athlete Neymar when the company launched an investigation into allegations that he sexually assaulted an employee, The Wall Street Journal reported. Neymar da Silva Santos Jr., who often goes by Neymar Jr., has an estimated net worth of $200 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
Neymar’s spokesperson denied the allegations in a statement to The Wall Street Journal, saying the split with Nike was due to commercial reasons. Nike issued a statement saying its investigation was “inconclusive” and that the employee initially asked the company to keep the matter confidential.
“Neymar Jr. will vigorously defend himself against these baseless attacks in case any claim is presented, which did not happen so far,” the statement said.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Nike Ended Its Contract With Neymar 8 Years Early When the Sexual Assault Probe Began in 2016
Nike ended its endorsement deal early with Neymar in August 2020 and did not give a public reason at the time. There were eight years left on the contract. However, The Wall Street Journal reviewed documents and spoke with sources and found the reasons stemmed from a 2016 sexual assault allegation, according to their reports.
Sources and documents reported by The Wall Street Journal indicated the Nike employee took several steps in 2018 that spurred the investigation, including filing a complaint to Nike, describing the alleged assault to Nike’s head of human resources and to the company’s general counsel. Nike hired attorneys to conduct an investigation in 2019 and subsequently stopped featuring Neymar in their marketing materials, the newspaper reported.
Nike issued a statement saying they launched an investigation with “inconclusive” results as soon as the employee “expressed interest in pursuing the matter.” The statement said she notified the company in 2018 with “assurances of confidentiality.” Nike was “deeply disturbed” by the allegations and handled them “with great seriousness,” the statement said.
The investigation was ongoing when Nike ended the contract in 2020, The Wall Street Journal reported, saying Neymar did not cooperate with the investigation.
“Nike ended its relationship with the athlete because he refused to cooperate in a good faith investigation of credible allegations of wrongdoing by an employee,” Hilary Krane, Nike’s general counsel, said in a statement to the newspaper.
2. Neymar Became the Most Expensive Soccer Player During a $260 Million Transfer
Neymar is 29 years old. He signed with Nike when he was only 13, before he was a professional soccer player in Brazil who gained fame in Europe. The Wall Street Journal called him “the most expensive player in the history of soccer.”
Paris Saint-Germain paid FC Barcelona nearly $260 million in transfer fees in 2017. Most recently, he signed a contract extension with French club PSG through 2025, the news outlet reported. EuroSport reported on the contract extension with PSG. Neymar said in a statement to the news outlet he was “very happy” and “proud.”
His statement said:
I’m really pleased to continue my adventure at Paris Saint-Germain, I’m very happy in Paris, and proud to be part of this squad, to work with these players, a great coach and to be part of the history of this club. These are things that make me believe even more in this great project. I have grown as a person here, as a human being and as a player, too. So I am very happy to extend my contract and I hope to win many more trophies here.
3. Neymar’s First Major Contract Paid $1.7 Million Per Year
Neymar landed his first major contract when he was only 17, according to Celebrity Net Worth. It was with the Brazilian team Santos, and paid $1.7 million per year.
“A year later, Santos attempted to lock Neymar down with a $20 million longer-term contract extension,” Celebrity Net Worth reported. “Neymar rejected the offer because he knew the competition in the Brazilian leagues would not be as good as in the European leagues, and would therefore hinder his chances of becoming the best player in the world.”
He ultimately signed a short-term contract with Santos, earning $4 million annually and allowing him to continue searching for other opportunities, Celebrity Net Worth reported. By 2013, he had signed a $119 million contract with Barcelona.
“This mega-deal paid him an average of $15 million per year in salary. Neymar also earned an estimated $16 million per year from endorsement deals. That brought his total annual earnings to roughly $30 million between 2013 and 2017,” Celebrity Net Worth wrote.
4. Neymar Was Rated ‘Most Marketable Athlete in the World’ in 2012
Neymar topped the list of SportsPro magazine’s most marketable athlete in the world in 2012.
“Neymar is very much the perfect storm: young, gifted and with an Olympics and a home World Cup on the horizon,” SportsPro editor David Cushnan said at the time. “He is already a superstar in Brazil, one of the world’s most robust economies and a vast market to boot.”
At the time, Neymar was a 20-year-old Santos player. He ousted Usain Bolt from the top spot in SportsPro’s rankings. Athletes were ranked on criteria including age, home market, charisma, willingness to be marketed and crossover appeal, according to SportsPro media.
5. Much of Neymar’s Net Worth Comes From Sponsorship Deals With Companies, Which Included Nike
Celebrity Net Worth reported that a significant percentage of Neymar’s net worth comes from sponsorship deals, which included his contract with Nike. He signed the contract deal in 2011, which was supposed to last 11 years.
“He has been the face of advertisement campaigns for the brand and has also launched products with them such as the Nike Hypervenom football boot, released initially in May 2013,” Celebrity Net Worth wrote. “Also in 2011, he signed a 2-year, $2.4 million deal with electronics brand Panasonic. Other brands he has worked with include Volkswagen, Tenys Pé Baruel, Lupo, Ambev, Claro, Unilever, and Santander.”
Neymar’s 2017 PSG deal earned him $1.02 million per week, a record for the soccer industry, according to Celebrity Net Worth. The salary amounts to about $53 million each year. Adding endorsements to his pay, the news outlet said he would make about $70 million per year, but that he earned $90 million between June 2017 and June 2018 with about $20 million coming from endorsements and the rest from salary and bonuses.