David Beckham is one of the most recognizable and wealthy athletes in the world. The English soccer star, now retired, manages to continually keep a high profile both in the U.K. and abroad. But if you think Beckham resides in the public eye now, you should have seen him in the ’90s. He was one of the era’s most famous soccer players worldwide. At the height of his career, he was the most sought out soccer player on the planet.
Because of Beckham’s immense talent and results on the field, he was able to earn quite a bit of money from his athletic career. That led him to take out a massive insurance policy on himself in case anything went awry. But what exactly was covered under that gargantuan, $195 million policy?
An overview of David Beckham’s soccer career
Biography.com’s profile on Beckham tells us he first came on the professional soccer scene with legendary English club Manchester United in 1995. He played for the team’s training division by the age of 16 and had advanced to the roster by 1995.
In 1997, the Professional Footballers’ Association tabbed him as their Young Player of the Year for 1997. By 1998, he’d received over $13 million in endorsements from various high-profile sponsor companies.
1998 also saw Beckham star for England’s World Cup squad. As if that wasn’t enough, he’d win a Premier League championship, FA Cup championship, and Champions League crown with United in 1999.
In 2002, Beckham helped England make yet another World Cup. United gave him a three-year deal worth $22 million, though it would be short-lived. After a disagreement with the club’s manager, the organization dealt his rights to another massively successful European club: Real Madrid.
The worldwide popularity of David Beckham
After his time with Real Madrid, Beckham transitioned to the U.S. In 2007 he signed a five-year, $250 million deal with the LA Galaxy. Beckham’s best days as a soccer player behind him and MLS is hardly thought of as an elite league in the global soccer pecking order, but it made sense from a branding perspective.
The move matched the star power of Beckham with the powerful U.S. media landscape. Beckham’s MLS career was rather uneventful, as injuries prevented him from making a major impact. But it laid the groundwork for him to eventually buy his own MLS franchise.
To this day, Beckham remains one of the world’s most popular athletes. He has multiple endorsement deals with countless companies. Forbes reported he has agreements with big name brands such as H&M, Adidas, Samsung, and Sainsbury’s.
He was so popular in the 90s and early 2000s that he even had a movie title named in his honor: the 2002 film Bend It Like Beckham (though Beckham did not appear in the movie). The movie’s title references Beckham’s freakish corner-kicking ability.
The $195 million insurance policy
According to Investopedia, David Beckham took out an insurance policy on his own legs in 2006. The policy was worth the equivalent of $195 million in American dollars. At the time, it represented the biggest sports-related insurance policy taken out in history.
Reportedly several companies were involved due to the sheer enormity of it. It was a wide-ranging policy, covering Beckham’s legs, toes, and feet, and strangely enough, his looks.
Because of Beckham’s status as a celebrity endorser, the policy also offered insurance in case of any disfigurement that robbed him of the ability to make money due to his trademark handsomeness. Luckily, Beckham’s soccer career ended without incident, and he’s been able to continue cashing in on his immense celebrity.