Hard work pays and pays handsomely. And few other disciplines prove it as much as sport. If you are good, you will make a fortune with a bit of luck. If you are Olympic-level good, you can make a killing.

At least five players headed to the Rio 2016 Olympics earned upwards of $20 million last year in brand endorsements alone. According to a list of the world’s highest-paid athletes published by Forbes magazine earlier this year, US basketball player Kevin Durant earned the most from brand endorsements—$36 million—last year among Rio-bound players.

US tennis star Serena Williams, Jamaican sprinting sensation Usain Bolt, Serbian tennis ace Novak Djokovic and Brazilian footballer Neymar complete the top five.

The other notable Olympians who endorse globally recognised brands include US swimmer Michael Phelps, his compatriot gymnast Simon Biles and British long-distance runner Mo Farah.

Interestingly, many players earn more via endorsements, than they do from actually playing their respective sports. For instance, Durant's earnings last year, from his sporting activities, were little over half of what he made  through endorsements.

The list of endorsers and the brands the players promote makes it apparent that not only are top companies gauging their performance on the field but also their charisma off it. 

Although exact numbers are hard to come by, Indian sportspersons have also been riding on the sponsorship bandwagon. From badminton stars Saina Nehwal and Jwala Gutta to tennis players Sania Mirza and Leander Paes, Indian players have also seen their bank balances swell.

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