For nearly a decade, the Kardashians have been the most talked about family in the world. If somehow you don’t know who they are, you’d think they’re royalty based on the amount of attention they’re given. For most celebrities, it isn’t uncommon to socialize with other famous people and one group of celebs that they’ve been linked to more than others are professional athletes.

Though the professional athletes that the Kardashians have been involved with were famous before they’ve associated themselves with the family, it sure didn’t stop them from profiting off of their brand and family name.

The family gained recognition in the mid-90s when Robert Kardashian defended OJ Simpson in the famed OJ Simpson Murder Trial. Kim Kardashian kept the family in the spotlight when her notorious sex tape blew up the internet. Soon the name Kardashian became as well known as Ford and Rockefeller.

Some of the athletes that the Kardashians have been involved with have been average players in their sport. But there sure have been superstars who have been linked to them as well. The tabloid hungry family has been involved with athletes in major league baseball, professional basketball, professional football, professional soccer, professional racing and even the Olympics.

It’s unclear why so much attention is given to the Kardashians. The attention crazed family isn’t contributing to society like Bill and Melinda Gates. Nevertheless the 24/7 public eye on the family will be an endless opportunity for professional athletes to receive exposure for their own brand and product their attempting to sell.  As long as athletes are seen with these socialites, they will grow in popularity as well.

The following are the top 12 athletes who profited off of the Kardashians:

12. Todd Waterman

via nydailynews.com

via nydailynews.com

Before Kim and Khloe were in the tabloids, their mother Kris was hooking up with athletes. In the late 1980s, while she was still married to Robert Kardashian, she had an affair with professional soccer player Todd Waterman.

It’s even been rumored Waterman was the one who ended Kris’ marriage to Kardashian. Waterman went on to become a very successful film animator working on films such as Mulan, Stuart Little and Anastasia.

Though Waterman’s name hasn’t surfaced until after Kardashian’s death, his affiliation with Jenner gave him his name some recognition value.

11. Rashad McCants

PRN / PR Photos

PRN / PR Photos

The Kardashians have a history of dating professional basketball players and Rashad McCants is one of many. The shooting guard from North Carolina had a short four-year stint in the league.

In hopes to revitalize his career, he began to date Khloe Kardashian. McCants even appeared on the family’s popular reality show during their relationship. According to McCants, Kardashian cheated on him while they were together. The basketball player turned reality star failed to get any air time when their relationship ended.

McCants is currently a free agent after playing with many overseas teams and has not played with a NBA team since 2009. But, he’s still in the public eye. You can thank Khloe for that.

10. Lewis Hamilton

via theguardian.com

via theguardian.com

It may be hard to comprehend but car racing is one of the most popular sports in the world. It’s even apparently the most popular group of athletes that has associated with the Kardashians.

British race car driver Lewis Hamilton has been rumored to have been involved with Kendall Jenner. The socialite/model is one of the most widely recognized people in the world. When she’s not on tv she’s on the front page of a magazine cover.

Hamilton and Jenner have been seen together on multiple occasions. Further appearances together will only increase Hamilton’s earnings off the racetrack.

9. James Harden

via justjared.com

via justjared.com

Since being traded to the Houston Rockets by the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012, James Harden has gone on a tear. He recently he made a slam dunk in the tabloids when he dated Khloe Kardashian.

The shooting guard isn’t in need of money, earning more than $15 million a year from his contract with the Rockets. However the attention he’s received by dating Kardashian increased his brand and “fear the beard” trademark.

Harden’s recent sneaker deal with Adidas is worth nearly $200 million over a 13-year period. In order to market his shoes, Kardashian was seen wearing a pair of his sneakers coming out of a LA nightclub.

8. Mark Sanchez

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Jets back-to-back AFC Championship appearances put the organization back on the map. Quarterback Mark Sanchez helped lead the way along with the team’s dominant defense.

When the Jets performance declined in 2012, so did Sanchez’s playing time and his reputation as a consistent starter was damaged. When rumors broke that Kim Kardashian was dating the Jets QB, it was a media frenzy, helping to keep Sanchez in the news and his name as someone who is valued.

Though Kardashian constantly denied the relationship, Sanchez certainly enjoyed the attention especially after being booed by his own fans.

7. Scottie Pippen

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Whenever you think of the Chicago Bulls dynasty, Michael Jordan is the first name that comes to mind. However, without Scottie Pippen, Jordan may not have won six championships.

Since winning six rings, Pippen has continued to find ways to stay in the limelight. Still it seems he can’t do it alone. He needed Jordan in the NBA and now his family during retirement.

Pippen’s daughter Larsa is close friends with Kim Kardashian. Like Kardashian, Larsa has starred on a reality show of her own. Pippen’s daughter starred on The Real Housewives of Miami and has a net worth over $14 million.

6. Miles Austin

via nydailynews.com

via nydailynews.com

Football has millions of viewers who tune in every week. Like professional football, the Kardashian’s reality show has millions of watchers per week as well. So it was no surprise that Kim Kardashian would hook up with a pro football player.

Wide receiver Miles Austin of the Dallas Cowboys began dating Kardashian back in 2010. After their relationship ended, Austin said that dating the socialite earned him more media exposure than any commercial he was in.

5. Reggie Bush

Albert L. Ortega / PR Photos

Albert L. Ortega / PR Photos

Dating a Kardashian must be a curse. When Reggie Bush began dating Kim Kardashian, his career began spiralling down. When Bush entered the league in 2006, he was instantly one of the most dominant offensive players and earned millions of dollars a year in endorsements alone.

Dating Kim warranted him air time on their show, which lined his pockets even more. Kardashian was a big supporter of her running back boyfriend by wearing his jersey and attending his games. That isn’t bad publicity.

4. Kris Humphries 

Justin Paludipan / PR Photos

Justin Paludipan / PR Photos

Before Kim Kardashian married egomaniac Kanye West, she was the spouse of NBA swing man Kris Humphries. When it was announced the two were engaged, Humphries became a media sensation.

The engagement was publicized on the E! Network in the months leading up to the wedding. Humphries became a celebrity on and off the basketball court due to his connection with the reality star.

The marriage lasted only 72 days, a shorter span of time than the highly publicized engagement coverage. Humphries is now a bench player on the Atlanta Hawks but definitely enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame. Despite not being an elite NBAer, he’s still a household name and he can think Kim K for that.

3. Lamar Odom

David Gabber / PR Photos

David Gabber / PR Photos

Kim Kardashian isn’t the only one in her family who has put athletes on a bigger stage. Her sister Khloe married Los Angeles Laker Lamar Odom. Odom was an important role player for the Lakers and was a big part of their back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010.

In addition to the bright lights he saw on the basketball court, he was in front of a camera starring in his own reality show with his wife. Odom has appeared on Keeping up with the Kardashians many times and certainly has made a fair bit of cash from those appearances, despite the personal turmoil he’s found himself in over the last year.

2. Caitlyn Jenner

Loredana Sangiuliano / PRPhotos.com

Loredana Sangiuliano / PRPhotos.com

Before Caitlyn Jenner was on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine, she was Bruce Jenner, an Olympic gold medal winning decathlete. Bruce appeared on the famed reality show for years, often cast aside as the Kardashians hogged the camera. Nevertheless, he still collected his paychecks for partaking in the ridiculousness.

Dealing with an identity struggle, Jenner underwent gender reassignment surgery and changed his name to Caitlyn. Jenner went on to have her own show I am Cait, bringing in an incredible amount of viewership.

Jenner has a net worth over $100 million and owes a great chunk of that monetary power to the Kardashian clan.

1. O.J. Simpson

via slate.com

via slate.com

It’s interesting to think that without O.J. Simpson, the Kardashians would have been another over-privileged family without tons of media exposure. When O.J. Simpson was being prosecuted for the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, his longtime friend Rob Kardashian aided him as defense attorney.

When the most watched verdict in American history was announced, Simpson even seemed surprised. So, even if you expected this list to be entirely based on the female Kardashians, you can’t deny that O.J. profited off of the patriarch more than other other athlete did on the rest of the family.

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