NFL, NBA, and MLB franchises derive much of their value from ticket sales, apparel purchases and television contracts. The driving forces behind all of these moneymaking revenue sources are the superstar players. Players like LeBron James, Peyton Manning, and Stephen Strasburg are worth every penny and more for the amount of revenue that they bring into their respective franchises. Let's take a look at a few of these superstars who are worth even more to their teams than you may realize. (Find out about the other side of the tracks in Top 10 Most Hair-Raising Sports Contracts.)

IN PICTURES: March Madness MVPs - Where Are They Now?

LeBron James
What was Cleveland Cavaliers basketball before LeBron James? It was pretty bad basketball. LeBron James is Cleveland Cavaliers basketball. He drives the ticket sales, jersey sales, and has the city excited about sports again. LeBron is worth so much to Cleveland that Forbes magazine estimates that the franchise's overall value will drop $100 million dollars if James bolts for greener pastures. That's a 21% drop in the team's current net worth of $476 million.

James is so popular that opposing teams tickets saw their resale value in the secondary market fall when James' Cavs were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs. James is not just an exciting NBA talent; he is a global icon. There are a lot of good reasons why teams were lining up outside James' door at 12:01 am on July 1, and most of them are green.

Peyton Manning
Peyton Manning has taken what was once a perennial NFL laughing stock and turned it into one of the most popular teams in the NFL. Manning is the face of the Indianapolis Colts franchise and the poster child for the NFL. He is the number one player in the NFL in influencing consumer purchases. He has endorsement deals with Direct TV, MasterCard, Gatorade, Pepsi and Kraft.

The Colts are expected to give Manning a raise to a salary of $20 million a season and there are rumblings that Manning is still underpaid. There is no other player in the league whose team is so dependent upon him for their success both on the gridiron and off.

Stephen Strasburg
In just a few starts, Strasburg has breathed new life into a depressed Washington Nationals fan base. Baseball fans have not been this excited about a player since the days of a young Roger Clemens and Dwight Gooden. The Washington Nationals have only sold out one game all season after opening day and guess who was pitching when that happened. That's right, Stephen Strasburg! Strasburg's economic impact has been felt across the country.

The excitement over Strasburg is so great that the Nationals are rumored to be thinking about raising ticket prices for home games that he starts. Strasburg's jersey is already the best selling jersey in team history. His first pitching performance was the most watched program in the history of the MLB network. The Strasburg effect is hitting other teams too. Opposing teams are seeing noticeably larger crowds at their home games as well. Strasburg's impact is so big that he is expected to boost the National's franchise value by $50 million dollars over the next two years.

Kobe Bryant
All time Laker greats Jerry West and Shaquille O'Neal both have deemed Kobe the best player to wear the purple and gold. The Lakers star has five NBA championships and he has helped catapult the Lakers to the number one spot in franchise values among NBA teams. Thanks in part to Kobe, the Lakers are valued at a whopping $607 million dollars. Kobe's star power drives the Lakers. Fans are willing to pay $3,000 a night to see the jaw dropping performances of number 24. Bryant's appeal is not just limited to the United States. His jersey remains one of the best selling among NBA fans in the U.S., China and Europe.

The Bottom Line
Although these stars may appear to make a lot of money, when you consider their value to their respective franchises they may actually be underpaid. (For more, check out 8 Money-Saving Tips For Sports Fans.)

Catch up on the latest financial news; read Water Cooler Finance: Shocking Court Rulings, Sinking Markets.

Related Articles
  1. Credit & Loans

    A FICO-free Loan? See SoFi's Super Bowl Ad

    Non-bank lender SoFi will air its first TV ad during Super Bowl 50. Here's how it's challenging big banks by providing an alternative approach to loans.
  2. Economics

    What is a Complement?

    A good or service that’s used in conjunction with another good or service is a complement.
  3. Investing News

    Super Savings for Your Super Bowl Party? Bet on It

    Prices for wings, avocados and TVs are all coming down, which will make your Super Bowl 50 festivities less costly.
  4. Investing News

    Chipotle Served with Criminal Probe

    Chipotle's beat muted expectations and got a clear bill from the CDC, but it now appears that an investigation into its E.coli breakout has expanded.
  5. Investing News

    Are Super Bowl Ads Worth Their High Cost?

    Are Super Bowl ads worth the investment? A look at the cost and how they're received.
  6. Stock Analysis

    From Shampoo to Soup, Unilever Has it Covered (UL)

    Open your fridge, your pantry, your bathroom cabinet and you'll find the Unilever logo. Here's how the company got so enormous.
  7. Stock Analysis

    JNJ vs. PG: Which is the Better Bet Right Now?

    These two stocks are long-term powerhouses, but one has the edge over the other right now.
  8. Stock Analysis

    The Top 5 Small Cap Restaurant Stocks for 2016 (BLMN,DENN)

    Learn about the market conditions that could help continue pushing restaurant stocks higher in 2016 and the five small-cap restaurants that are worth a look.
  9. Economics

    Why Commodities Aren't to Blame for Market Malaise

    Commodities are taking the brunt of the blame for poor investment performance. Are they the real villain?
  10. Economics

    Has IKEA Reached 'Peak Curtains?'

    An IKEA executive made a comment that would have rankled investors (were IKEA not privately held). Here's what he (probably) really meant.
RELATED FAQS
  1. Marginal propensity to Consume (MPC) Vs. Save (MPS)

    Historically, because people in the United States have shown a higher propensity to consume, this is likely the more important ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Is Japan an emerging market economy?

    Japan is not an emerging market economy. Emerging market economies are characterized by low per capita incomes, poor infrastructure ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Are Social Security payments included in the US GDP calculation?

    Social Security payments are not included in the U.S. definition of the gross domestic product (GDP). Transfer Payments For ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What economic indicators are important to consider when investing in the retail sector?

    The unemployment rate and Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) rank as two of the most important economic indicators to consider ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How do changes in interest rates affect the spending habits in the economy?

    Changes in interest rates can have different effects on consumer spending habits depending on a number of factors, including ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What is the difference between an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) and a VAR ...

    An original equipment manufacturer (OEM) is a company that manufactures a basic product or a component product, such as a ... Read Full Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Socially Responsible Investment - SRI

    An investment that is considered socially responsible because of the nature of the business the company conducts. Common ...
  2. Presidential Election Cycle (Theory)

    A theory developed by Yale Hirsch that states that U.S. stock markets are weakest in the year following the election of a ...
  3. Super Bowl Indicator

    An indicator based on the belief that a Super Bowl win for a team from the old AFL (AFC division) foretells a decline in ...
  4. Flight To Quality

    The action of investors moving their capital away from riskier investments to the safest possible investment vehicles. This ...
  5. Discouraged Worker

    A person who is eligible for employment and is able to work, but is currently unemployed and has not attempted to find employment ...
  6. Ponzimonium

    After Bernard Madoff's $65 billion Ponzi scheme was revealed, many new (smaller-scale) Ponzi schemers became exposed. Ponzimonium ...
Trading Center