Brazilian soccer star and 3-time World Cup champion, Pelé (real name: Edson Arantes do Nascimento), died after a battle with cancer on December 29, 2022. The late athlete earned an impressive net worth in his 82 years.
“Inspiration and love marked the journey of King Pelé, who peacefully passed away today. In his journey, Edson charmed everyone with his brilliance in sport, stopped a war, performed social work around the world, and spread what he most believed to be the cure to all our problems: love,” a statement shared via his official Facebook profile read. “Your message in life will become a legacy for generations to come.”
Keep reading for details on Pelé’s net worth, his sports salary and how he made his money.
What Is Pele’s Net Worth?
Pelé left behind an estimated $100 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
What Was Pele’s Soccer Salary?
Pelé’s career began when he was just a teenager and signed to Santos FC after impressing the coach. He made his professional soccer debut in 1956 at the age of 15.
At his prime, the Três Corações native was the highest paid athlete of all time, leading Brazil to World Cup championships in 1958, 1962 and 1970. In 1999, he was labeled Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee and FIFA designated him as “the greatest.”
Although he was often offered large contracts to leave Santos FC and play for major clubs such as Inter Milan or Real Madrid, Pelé stayed loyal to the team that found him. In 1974, he signed with the New York Cosmos and helped grow soccer’s American fanbase.
According to the New York Times, Pelé agreed to a three-year, $7 million contract with the New York team, making him the highest‐paid team athlete in the world at the time.
He retired from soccer in 1977, though he continued to be an ambassador for the sport.
How Else Did Pele Make Money?
In 2015 – one year after Brazil hosted the World Cup and one year before the Summer Olympics were scheduled to take place in Rio de Janeiro – Forbes named Pelé the 10th-highest paid retired athlete. Many companies hired the retired soccer legend as the face of their campaigns during the major sporting events in Brazil.
According to the outlet, Pelé brought in an estimated $15 million from companies such as Procter & Gamble, Volkswagen and Emirates Airlines that year alone.
He also had a long-standing relationship with the shoe company Puma, beginning in the 1970s when he was paid to tie his shoe during the World Cup Final, according to the Los Angeles Times.
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