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The $30 Million Man

With $17 million in salary from Ducati and $13 million in endorsements, Forbes Magazine estimates Valentino Rossi’s total annual income at $30 million dollars. According to Forbes, this makes Rossi the 20th highest earning athlete in the world, and far and away the best compensated motorcycle racer (Casey Stoner, for instance, is thought to make roughly 1/3 as much). You could argue that Rossi is no longer worth this much given his relatively dismal race results since switching to Ducati last year, but he is certainly the most famous, if not the most well liked, motorsports athlete in Europe.


  1. chad smith says:

    I dont think it was a good business decision to hire valentino, and a worse decision if Yamaha would have kept him…
    Ducati sold 42000 units last year, and increase of 5500 units from the previous year.
    Lets say the entire increase was because of Rossi, not new dealers, new models, rebates, finance promotions,,,, nothing but Rossi.
    It cost them $3100 for every increased bike sold to hire Him. The reality is he didnt account for all of those sales it’s more likely that they sold about 1000 more units because of Rossi, So, it cost them $17,000 per bike to sign him…..
    I think they would have gotten more value out of giving away a bike a day for 3 years!!!

  2. AZgman says:

    The question is: will VW still think he is worth $17 million/yr?

  3. MGNorge says:

    I’m not saying Rossi, or any other money-maker, shouldn’t get paid well. That’s not it at all. I’m saying that it’s disproportional and has gotten out of hand. Race promoters bitch because they can’t make money, the cost in going to such an event in person drives it away from the common folk, the very people in many cases the sponsors are wanting to reach out to. Instead of making a very comfortable living and a number of times the average wage they are paid enough to house and feed a small town for years! Same with sports stars and celebrities. Just because they can and choose to doesn’t answer the question.

  4. Reinhart says:

    Casey who? Valentino is the man, always will be.

  5. andyman says:

    Yamaha was a fool for not seeing the value in Valentino when they allowed him to leave. Val should have retired with Yamaha. Yamaha has no sponsors and is racing at a loss. I guess they are their own sponsors. And its interesting to see no sponsors have stepped up either. Someone needs to teach yamaha how to run a business.

    • butchy says:

      Should have retired? He earned $30 million to continue riding! That’s an easy choice to make in my book.

      • grumpy8521 says:

        I think that he means Yamaha should have paid enough to keep Rossi and thus keep his allegiance until he decided to retire.

        • Norm G. says:

          re: “I think that he means Yamaha should have paid enough to keep Rossi and thus keep his allegiance until he decided to retire.”

          and the money was to come from where exactly…?

  6. Ricardo says:

    Rossi might be one of the many reasons why people is buying Ducatis, and that is also part of why he gets paid that much money. And also does anybody really know if he is being heard at Ducati on what needs to be done to get teh bike competitive in the front runners?is Ducati willing to do the investment?
    I think he is earning the money he is getting paid, you get what you negotiate and it is a business for Rossi as it is for Ducati. Pure and simple economics.
    Rossi’s skills? well proven a vouple of races ago in the rain finishing second, and his looooong winning record…

  7. Superhawk says:

    Sports are all about the $$ and if a team or manufacturer has the money and feel its a good deal they do it. If they don’t have it or feel it’s not worth it, they won’t do it.

    I think Mladin could get similar results on the Ducati right now in some ways when it’s dry, but they wouldn’t pay Mladin 1 million to do it. Rossi brings in the dollars they need to support the team even though I think next year; he will make less. A trade off of winning vs. earning! We shall see!

  8. Johnne Lee says:

    “…if not the most well-liked…”


    I travel in Europe quite frequently (most people think I actually live there) and VR is VERY well-liked by the vast, VAST majority of people who recognize him. Of course he is less popular among the more voluble (especially those who are paid in some fashion to be more voluble.)

    VR is well-worth the $$$ he is paid. This fact is sociological in nature, and he (and others) are worth the $$$ because we as a society speak with our wallets. And we don’t speak to society’s needs but rather to our own fantasies.

    Sad, maybe, but true.

  9. man relish says:

    forgive my ignorance, but how/when did he get the name “doctor?”

    • Pat W says:

      A looooooooong time ago VR and his sidekick were in an airport in Italy and heard a page for a “Doctor Rossi”. VR and side kick thought it would be funny to call VR “The Doctor”.

    • Davide says:

      On May 31st 2005 Rossi received a Laurea Honoris Causa ( the equivalent of a BS) in “Communications and marketing” from the University of Urbino. A minor academic title but in Italy it entitles one to be called Doctor. If he became “THE DOCTOR” after June of 2005, this is the reason.

  10. Tim says:

    It really depends on the reasons Ducati choose s to pay him that much. He may not be winning, but he’s still the biggest publicity machine in MotoGP and, if you are Ducati and have inferior bikes, at least having the most famous rider brings you a lot of publicity, win or lose.

    Perhaps it is that salary discrepancy that is behind Stoner’s retirement? Don’t be shocked if Honda throws a bunch more money at him to keep riding. with Lorenzo locked up by Yamaha, Honda has little choice.

    • blackcayman says:

      “but he’s still the biggest publicity machine in MotoGP”

      Bingo!!!! We have a winner. Tim nailed it

  11. MGNorge says:

    As with all such things these numbers boggle the mind. To say an individual is “worth” untold 10’s of millions of dollars is ridiculous. No wonder it’s hard for the working poor to watch these sporting events except on TV. If no one was offering these paychecks then what choice would the athletes have? Same goes for stick and ball sports and all the celebs. I’m not jealous, envious yes, jealous no. But this has all gotten way out of proportion and does nothing but drive costs skyward.

    • blackcayman says:

      most of his “value” is in name recognition and like-ability. Michael Jordan is still making millions from Nike regardless of the fact that he taught young tiger how to party in Vegas!

    • soi cowboy says:

      In a militaristic society, it is necessary to have a sports culture. The purpose is to distract young men from organizing in to unregulated militias. The brown shirts of 1920s Germany are a good example.

  12. Kris says:

    What a legend he is- what he has done for this sport is amazing.

    And he has Simoncelli’s 58 on his helmets now.

    I may be an Aussie but I also love Vale (Stoner first tho).

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