Athletes and celebrities earn a fortune each year for all the work they do. Although only the top 1% of athletes and actors enjoy such prosperity, the public often questions whether they deserve such a high salary. It only takes a short period of time to earn a fortune that would take other people more than a lifetime. Does Tom Brady, despite his skills, deserve to earn more than 10 times more than general surgeons? Is Taylor Swift worth charging thousands of dollars for her concert tickets? According to the rules of capitalism, the answer is yes, and most celebrities and athletes deserve every cent they make.
Under capitalism, the private sector and the individual hold power over industry and the economy. It is up to the individual to assess the value of the product or service and find the best place in the supply and demand graph and the optimal price where both the supplier and the consumer are satisfied. In this case, the public decides how much celebrities and athletes will earn. Society will determine whether the services people provide are worth the money. Football is very popular in the United States, and the NFL makes billions of dollars each year with sponsorships, tickets, merchandise, and broadcast revenue. The players would like to be paid as much as possible – they are the ones who bring the money to the team. Additionally, teams will want to keep the players they need to generate revenue, win trophies and attract sponsors. They will negotiate an appropriate salary based on the monetary value the player brings to the team so that both parties are satisfied.
The same goes for Taylor Swift concert tickets. If the public found the ticket price outrageous to the point where they wouldn’t buy the tickets, Swift would potentially lower the ticket prices to an acceptable point while still making a profit. However, the public agreed that the prices were fair enough to buy tickets, as evidenced by the number of tickets and albums she sold, and she managed to keep the prices as they were. Another example is hiring a famous actor/actress for a movie to increase its quality, making it easier to attract sponsors, ticket sales and viewings. Hiring a famous celebrity for advertising will increase sales by providing more publicity and media exposure for the product. If the public didn’t care about celebrity appearances, then sales would stagnate and the value of their work would drop, reducing their own pay. This is the same logic of a company trying to keep a skilled employee in their company instead of letting them leave for a better term, only the capital involved is much greater.
A more concrete example is the case of FC Barcelona. FC Barcelona has been the best team in European football for many years with their many titles. However, the team has been in financial ruin since 2017 due to mismanagement and an inability to replace retiring legends. In 2021, Lionel Messi, a living legend and the most expensive player in the world, left the team to go to Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) because Barcelona could not afford his salary. Because of the transfer, Barcelona suffered a drop in sponsorships and wins. In contrast, PSG got eight more sponsors, and Nike and Coca-Cola expanded their partnership with more capital. Messi increased PSG’s revenue by 15-20% in his first season with his new team. Their social media platform also grew and attracted more people. In 2021, he was paid $75 million, but the revenue he brought in proved that he was worth the price. In this case, PSG are not only paying Messi to score goals and win games; they pay him to bring revenue and media exposure to the team.
Apparently, the world has determined an athlete’s performance and a celebrity’s media appearance to be more valuable than a surgeon’s life-saving surgery. These people don’t make so much money because they are “better than other people”; instead, it is because of their ability to make a profit, and that profit is made by the public. If hospitals made more money than movie studios, record companies, and sports clubs, doctors would be able to demand higher wages. The degree of contribution to society plays little role in determining the value of a service. Supply and demand make the decisions in our world.