Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press
Stephen Curry was once a no-name recruit who played basketball at Davidson College for three years, but he is now one of the richest athletes on the face of the planet.
How rich, you ask?
Well, that’s hard to say. His salary from the Warriors is easy enough to look up, but endorsements, royalties and investments are a different story.
Forbes estimated that Curry made $76.9 million for the 2017-18 season, which is a major increase from last year’s $47.3 million estimate. His Golden State salary nearly tripled from $12.1 million last year to $34.7 million this year, and he has added at least one more massive endorsement deal in the past 12 months.
Here’s a look at where it comes from.
The NBA Salary
Ben Margot/Associated Press
It took eight years, but Curry is finally getting paid like a superstar.
After the Golden State Warriors selected the sharpshooter with the seventh overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft, his rookie contract—with options exercised for his third and fourth seasons—was worth an estimated $3.17 million per year for four seasons. That’d be life-changing money for the vast majority of us, but that is far below market value for a guy who averaged 19.2 points, 6.1 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game for those four years.
After Curry endured an injury-riddled 2011-12 season, Warriors were able to sign him to a four-year, $44 million extension. Given his frequent ankle issues, many considered it a risky investment at the time.
It ended up being one of the biggest bargains imaginable.
Curry has since helped the Warriors win three championships, was named league MVP twice and was voted either first-team or second-team All-NBA in each of the first four years after signing his extension.
This past summer, the time finally came for Warriors majority owner Joe Lacob to fork over the big bucks.
Lacob got Curry’s first eight seasons for a combined total of $56.7 million, but years No. 9-13 have a price tag of $201.2 million. Curry made $34.7 million this past season, and his salary will gradually ramp up to a whopping $45.8 million in 2021-22.
Curry earned the most of any NBA player in 2017-18, according to Spotrac, and he’s only second at the moment to Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook in total contract value.
The Shoe Deal
Rick Bowmer/Associated Press
Curry was rolling in the dough long before the Warriors started paying him an average annual salary north of $40 million. According to Forbes ranking of the world’s highest-paid athletes, Curry is No. 8 on the list thanks to an estimated $42 million in endorsement deals, the most noteworthy of which is his shoe contract with Under Armour.
In an August 2015 story about James Harden’s massive offer from Adidas, ESPN’s Darren Rovell mentioned that Nike lost Curry to Under Armour in 2013 “after not matching an offer for less than $4 million a year.” Since then, that’s the number everyone has used when discussing Curry’s shoe deal.
Even in Ethan Sherwood Strauss’ extensive reported piece for ESPN.com about how Curry ended up with Under Armour after Nike botched its pitch to re-sign him, a link to Rovell’s story is the closest we get to finding out the dollar amount of Curry’s shoe deal.
In September 2015, Curry and UA came to an agreement to extend his deal through 2024. Specifics of the contract were not released, but Sports Illustrated did report that the deal “includes an equity stake” in Under Armour. It isn’t clear how much equity he’s received in the company, though, which makes it impossible to estimate how much he’s making off of this endorsement.
Considering what Harden ($200 million), Kevin Durant (an estimated $300 million) and LeBron James (possibly more than $1 billion) are making on their shoe deals, does anyone believe Curry’s deal is still for only $4 million a year?
According to Business Insider’s Bob Bryan, one analyst at Morgan Stanley estimates Curry’s value to Under Armour could be more than $14 billion. Yes, that’s billion with a “B.”
Let’s just say Curry isn’t losing money in this relationship, and he’s likely pocketing far more than previous reports would have you believe.
The Other Endorsements/Investments
Curry’s financial portfolio spans much wider than just his NBA contract and his shoe deal.
In December 2015, Curry signed a three-year endorsement deal with Brita and added two more years to his contract with Unilever/Degree. Three months later, he signed a multiyear deal with JPMorgan Chase. And in June 2017, he began working with Infiniti.
This past April, he brokered a deal with Sony that Variety magazine declared “the biggest media deal of any athlete to date.”
Cashing in on the NBA’s international appeal, Curry has also partnered with PressPlay and Vivo, becoming the face of basketball in China.
So much for the April 2017 report from SportsBusiness Journal‘s Terry Lefton suggesting that Curry might be scaling back on his endorsement deals. He’s one of the most popular athletes on the planet, and he’d be foolish to stop milking that cow.
On the investment side of things, in addition to his equity holding in Under Armour, Curry and former Davidson teammate Bryant Barr co-founded Slyce. Taylor Soper of GeekWire defined the startup as a company that “wants to change how celebrities utilize social media tools and help them sort through all the noise in an efficient manner.”
Dollar amounts for his endorsements and investments are not available. However, when he signed his new five-year megadeal with the Warriors last July, Forbes writer Kurt Badenhausen estimated that Curry would make more than $80 million this season. (That was before the lucrative deal with Sony, too.)
If we assume Curry’s income from endorsements and royalties remains stagnant at $35-40 million per year—it will likely increase, but just go with it—and combine that with his salary from the Warriors, he’ll make close to $400 million from the start of the 2017-18 season through the end of 2021-22.
While he loses a ton of that to taxes and agent fees, he still has more than enough left over. To wit, he and Sean “Diddy” Combs were trying to buy the Carolina Panthers earlier this year.
Clearly, Curry isn’t struggling to make ends meet.
Kerry Miller is a multisport writer for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter, @kerrancejames.