Pele was once paid US$120,000 to tie his shoelaces

SAO PAULO: Pele’s life off the pitch has been as uplifting as his football career, where he broke records with three marriages and received various sponsorships to fill his pockets with money.

Pele earned millions of ringgit by endorsing Visa and Mastercard as well as sandals made from recycled tires.

In his book Sneaker WarsBarbara Smit details how at the 1970 World Cup, Pele struck a deal with Puma that would have paid him US$25,000 (RM110,325) plus US$100,000 (RM441,300) over the next four years.

Pele’s first task to promote Puma already started in the quarter-finals against Brazil.

The one wearing Puma boots deliberately asked the referee to stop the clock when he was about to start the match so he could tie his shoelaces knowing all eyes were on him.

As expected, the cameras focused on Pele and the strapless Puma boots, thus he created what is considered the world’s first ‘viral’ promotion. Pele is said to have been paid US$120,000 (RM528,660) just for the shoelace scene.

However, the most attention-grabbing ad Pele has ever endorsed was when he lent his name to an impotence product, Viagra in 2002, however Pele claimed that he had never used Viagra.

Pele is often portrayed as ‘safe and corporate friendly’ compared to the sometimes unpredictable Diego Maradona, but the Brazilian legend’s personal life is full of problems.

His first child Edinho, who was born two months after his 1970 World Cup triumph and in 2017, was sentenced to more than 12 years in prison for drug trafficking and money laundering.

In the middle of the league in the 1970s, Pele left his first wife Rosemeri dos Reis Cholbi shortly after arriving in the United States (US).

PELE with Edinho.

He later reconciled with Edinho who was also a former goalkeeper at Santos but his relationship with his first daughter was more troubled.

He refused to acknowledge Sandra Arantes do Nascimento, who was born in 1964 from an affair with a maid, even though a Brazilian court ruled she was his son in 1996 after a five-year legal process.

SANDRA Arantes do Nascimentom, Pele’s unrecognized child.

In his late 70s, Pele married for the third time in 2016 to 42-year-old businesswoman Marcia Aoki, they met in New York in the 1980s but only started seeing each other in 2010 when they met in an elevator in Sao Paulo.

Pele is best remembered among English-language film fans for his role as Corporal Luis Fernandez in Escape to Victory, in which a group of prisoners of war attempt to escape from a German World War II prison camp.

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