Do you have a favorite athlete? If so, do you know how much money he or she makes?
What follows is a list of the highest-paid athletes in the world – not only right now but of all time!
Some may argue that these sports superstars are grossly overpaid. Their on-field income, such as players’ salaries, perks, and bonuses, is supplemented by product endorsements, corporate sponsorships, and appearance fees.
Millions of sports fans will attest to each of these individuals’ priceless talent nurtured by years of hard work, persistence, passion, and discipline. In the real world, such talent is monetized.
We’ve written a list of the richest athletes but below we take a look at who is the highest-paid and what sports they're involved with. We will look at this elite group to find out what helps make them tick. Let the count-off begin!
Highest-Paid Athletes In the World
The list below is from #1 highest paid athlete, salary-wise, to #15 in the lineup. Note that the order of our list does not include their endorsements, which can often take their net worth from a few hundred million dollars upwards of double or triple that. The list is simply based on their salary, even when we mention additional endorsements.
1. Conor McGregor: MMA Fighter
Starting our list, we have the Irish menace with a loud mouth. Of course, everyone knows who Conor McGregor is. He made his debut in 2008, and since then has taken the mixed martial arts (MMA) scene by storm.
This MMA fighter was attracting a lot of love and hate from fans due to his next-level trash-talking, but he continuously backed it up by knocking out his opponents in the octagon.
In 2016, McGregor diverted his attention towards the global football star Cristiano Ronaldo saying that one day he would overtake him in the Forbes magazine list of the world’s highest-paid athletes.
Last year, McGregor made $180 million. $130 million of that total came from selling his majority stake in Proper Twelve's Irish whiskey brand. This resulted in Conor McGregor’s net worth hitting $200 million; he rightfully took the top seat on this Highest-Paid Athletes in the World list.
2. Lionel Messi: Soccer Player
Lionel Messi is one of the biggest soccer stars in the world. This Argentinian goalkeeper played for FC Barcelona when he started his career in 2003. Since then, he has received FIFA’s player of the year award multiple times.
He currently plays a mixture of field roles for Paris Saint-Germain and will play for his own national team in the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Earning a total income of $130 million last year with another $55 million in endorsements, Lionel Messi’s net worth is estimated between $400 and 600 million, making him one of the richest soccer players in the world.
3. Cristiano Ronaldo: Soccer Player
Just as Windows vs. Mac has been debated for a long time, Messi vs. Ronaldo has been a hot topic in the soccer world for as long as I can remember.
Who scored the most goals? Who earned the most? Who has the most awards? The competition was relentless. Eventually, the score was settled as soccer rankings decided the winner in 2022.
This Manchester United footballer takes home a salary of $70 million combined with $50 million in endorsements, leaving him with a total net worth of $120 million. Cristiano Ronaldo’s net worth, however, totals over $500 million. Needless to say, he’s doing extremely well.
Falling just $10 million short of number two on our list, this Portuguese superstar also takes the unofficial crown of the sexiest athlete in the world.
4. Dak Prescott: Football Quarterback
The Dallas Cowboys quarterback is next on our list. Being part of the most valuable sports team in the world certainly has its perk. Due to that, Dak Prescott was the first player in NFL to cross the $100 million mark.
Dak has a combined wealth of $107.5 million, including $97.5 million from his salary and $10 million from various sponsorships. This was a first in the history of the NFL.
Moreover, Prescott signed an extension with the Dallas Cowboys for four years, including a $160 million contract and a $66 million signing bonus. So, let’s see how well the quarterback ranks on this list next year.
5. LeBron James: Basketball Player
While this 36-year-old’s latest movie might have been a flop at the box office, his performance on the court is anything but that.
For the masses, LeBron James, a force to be reckoned with on the court, is the successor of His Airness, Michael Jordan.
LeBron signed a $153 million contract in 2018 with the Los Angeles Lakers. But, that isn’t the only source of his income. He has invested in multiple branches of Blaze Pizza and a production company (SpringHill Entertainment) over time.
His main earnings are from his endorsements; he has the top endorsement spot in the NBA. In 2021, LeBron earned an annual income of $126.9 million from his combined salary and endorsements.
6. Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior: Soccer Player
Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior (known simply as “Neymar”) is the third soccer player on this list. Coming in with close competition to our fifth contender, Neymar has amassed $95 million.
From making deals with Puma to appearing in the popular battle royale game Fortnite, Neymar is everywhere. A total of 282 million followers across all his socials is a testament to his popularity.
Bagging the most expensive transfer in soccer history, a massive $263 million, is an even more impressive feat. Neymar makes a salary of $76 million, while his endorsements amount to $19 million.
7. Roger Federer: Tennis Player
Roger Federer is undoubtedly one of the best tennis players to ever set foot on a tennis court.
The Swiss maestro has a lot of world titles under his belt, and for a good reason. His sportsmanship charms the fans and his skill leaves them mesmerized. Because of this, he gets sponsorships left, right, and center—more than any other athlete.
Roger made $90 million from sponsors and endorsements, alone, despite having a knee injury. That surely tells you something about how in-demand this man is. Earning just $30,000 from a tournament doesn’t matter when you take home $90 million in sponsorships.
Another thing to mention is that Federer has a ten-year $300 million deal with the Japanese brand, Uniqlo. As of 2022, Roger Federer’s net worth is an estimated $550 million.
8. Lewis Hamilton: Formula One Racer
Holding an impressive win record of 7 championships, Lewis Hamilton is no guest when it comes to gathering vast amounts of money.
He has been racing for McLaren since 2007 and currently drives for Mercedes in Formula One. In 2021, he extended his contract with them for one more year. Perhaps despite all his accomplishments, he signed for another year to finish some business!
In 2018, the champion racer signed with the famous clothing brand Tommy Hilfiger. His total wealth amounts to $82 million; $70 million is from his salary and winnings, leaving the remaining $12 million from endorsements.
9. Tom Brady: Football Quarterback
The Man, The Myth, The Legend: Tom Brady. Most athletes think of retiring once they are past their prime. They start to slow down as their bodies start acting up. But not Tom Brady.
The best quarterback in NFL history decided it wasn’t his time to settle down, even at 40.
In 2021, he led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl victory. All the while, he secured his personal 7th career victory. Brady has his own businesses as well: his wellness brand, named TB12, and 199 productions, his production company.
His salary of $45 million, plus $31 million in endorsements, makes this highest-paid athlete's annual income $76 million.
10. Kevin Durant: Basketball Players
Kevin Durant is one of the best basketball players to bless the sport with his talent. The Brooklyn Nets' love for him showed when they offered him a $164 million four-year contract.
Even though he suffered an injury to his Achilles tendon and had to take time off, the 12-time all-star returned with a fury and told the world to remember his name.
Outside of the court, Kevin has a media brand called Boardroom. He was also an executive producer on the Oscar-winning best live-action short film, Two Distant Strangers. It seems that he is a man of many talents.
Durant’s endorsements are $44 million – much more than his $31 million salary, making it close a close race with NFL legend, Tom Brady.
11. Stephen Curry: Basketball Player
The two-time MVP of the NBA and long-distance basketball sniper has made his presence known on the court. Putting the work in without being anywhere near the rim made him a fearsome opponent for any opposing team.
Like many athletes on this list, Curry also has his own production company. The company struck a deal with Audible in 2020 after moving on from Sony.
Curry has the highest salary contract in the NBA; he made a $200 million deal in 2017. At the time, that was unheard of for the NBA.
His sponsors include Under Armour, which launched a brand named after him. His total endorsements amount to $40 million, while he takes home a salary of $34.5 million. Overall, he is making a total of $74.5 million.
12. Naomi Osaka: Tennis Player
Introducing the first female and second tennis player on our list, Naomi Osaka. The Japanese-born tennis player has the highest-earning record among female athletes.
She won the Grand Slam four times along with its prize money of $5 million. However, that amount is entirely overshadowed by what she earns from her sponsors and endorsements.
Raking in about $55 million from endorsements, Naomi had an accumulated wealth of $60 million just last year.
13. Tiger Woods: Golfer
Tiger Woods started his golf victories in 1995 and took the world of golf by storm. He has 15 major wins under his belt and has accumulated a whopping $1.5 billion throughout his 27-year career.
Woods is by far the most famous name in golf; even people who don’t watch the sport know who he is.
Twenty-seven years is a lot of time to be playing a professional game. During that time, he has been a part of various endeavors such as designing his first public golf course (Payne’s Valley) and launching his signature golf clubs.
Despite sustaining serious injuries from a major car crash in 2021, he didn’t stop the struggle. Afterward, he managed to strike a deal with the PGA Tour 2K video game.
Though his total winnings were only $200,000, he has endorsements of $60 million.
14. Russell Westbrook: Basketball Player
The second to last highest-paid athlete on this list is Russell Westbrook, the king of scoring double-triples. Playing for the Washington Wizards, Russell Westbrook is a 9-time NBA All-Star.
With such performance, sponsors are sure to flock to your door. This is why it's not surprising that Nike extended his deal for ten years in 2017. On top of being a menace on the court, he is also an Olympic gold medalist.
As if his deal with Nike wasn’t enough, he signed a $207 million contract extension for five years that same year. Combined, he takes home $59 million. $26 million is from endorsements and $33 million is from sponsorships.
15. Patrick Mahomes: Football Quarterback
Last but not least, ending this list of the highest-paid athletes in the world, is Patrick Mahomes.
After winning the 2020 Super Bowl for the Kansas City Chiefs, Patrick Mahomes made a deal with Biosteel. He also signed a $503 million contract extension for ten years.
Mahomes takes home an estimated $54.5 million. $32.5 million is from his salary and $22 million is from his endorsements and sponsorships.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Highest-Paid Athletes
Who Is the Highest-Paid NBA Player?
The highest-paid NBA player is LeBron James, who made $41.18 million from his NBA salary in 2021. This pushes his net worth to approximately $850 million, according to Forbes.
Who Is the Highest-Paid Soccer Player in the World?
Lionel Messi’s income is reportedly $130 million with $55 million from sponsorships and endorsements. His total assets are estimated between $400 and $600 million.
Who Are the Highest-Paid Female Athletes in the World?
Five of them are renowned tennis players, led by Naomi Osaka ($55M), Serena Williams ($44M), Venus Williams ($10.8M), and Garbiñe Muguruza ($7.5M). The fifth is gymnast, Simone Biles ($10M).
Others in this top ten list include gymnast Simone Biles ($9.7M), golfer Jin Young Ko ($7.2M), badminton champ P.V. Sindhu ($6.9M), tennis player Ashleigh Barty ($6.7M), golfer Nelly Korda ($5.7M), and WNBA forward-center Candace Parker ($5.5M).
Highest-Paid Athletes – Best Sporting Performance
Taking inspiration from their amazing feats on the field, ring, or court and its monetary rewards, we salute these highest-paid athletes around the world who truly deserve their hard-earned incomes.
This post originally appeared on Savoteur.
(Click here for the full list of 50.) James was the world's highest-paid athlete in 2022 after bringing in $127 million, but that list only reflects active athletes. Jordan out-earned all of them with an estimated $180 million, almost entirely from Nike.What 3 Professional athletes are billionaires? ›
But in terms of net worth, again, only three athletes have made it to the billionaires club. They are LeBron James, Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods.Who is the most richest sportsman? ›
|1||Floyd Mayweather Jr.||$915 million|
|2||Cristiano Ronaldo||$800 million|
|3||Lionel Messi||$750 million|
|4||LeBron James||$680 million|
Tiger Woods has officially joined LeBron James and Michael Jordan as one of only three billionaire athletes in the world.Who is the highest-paid athlete in 2023? ›
With earnings of $130 million, including $55 million from endorsements, Messi topped the list of the 10 highest-paid athletes for the 12-month period that began on May 1, 2023.
His career has been packed full of accomplishments, including major titles (14), annual money titles (9) and Player of the Year awards (9). Now Woods can add one more accolade to his trophy case: the first athlete to earn $1 billion.Who is the richest NFL player of all? ›
Roger Staubach: $600 Million
After founding his own real estate company late in his playing career, Staubach sold it for more than $600 million in 2008. Now 81, Staubach is believed to be the wealthiest current or former NFL player of all time.
No surprise here. Earlier this year, he became the first active NBA player to become a billionaire, so there's no shock he's one of the highest-paid athletes in the world.
Ans. Football, Tennis, Baseball, Boxing, Cricket, Ice Hockey, Golf and motor sports are among the richest sports in the world. With a net worth of about $600 billion, football is the richest sport on the planet and is one of the most popular sports in the United States, with between 390 and 410 million fans worldwide.Who is the richest woman in the world? ›
Since 2021, Francoise Bettencourt Meyers is listed as the world's wealthiest woman. According to a 2021 billionaire census, women make up 11.9% of the billionaire cohort, and "just over half of all female billionaires are heiresses, with an additional 30% having a combination of inherited and created wealth."
As of March 2023, Floyd Mayweather's net worth is estimated to be roughly $560 million, making him the richest boxer in the world.Who is the richest female athlete? ›
Naomi Osaka once again tops the list of the highest-paid female athletes in the world, bringing in $51.1 million in 2022, according to Forbes. She's followed by Serena Williams, who earned $41.3 million.What athlete has made the most money in their lifetime? ›
It likely won't surprise anyone to know that Michael Jordan reigns clear at the top of sports' all-time greatest earners: the sales of his Jordan brand sneakers still earning him more than $150 million a year in royalties and having taken his net worth beyond two billion dollars overall.What athletes are worth $1 billion? ›
Forbes: Tiger Woods becomes billionaire, joining LeBron James and Michael Jordan. Tiger Woods now has an estimated net worth of at least $1 billion, according to Forbes. He joins LeBron James and Michael Jordan as the only athletes to reach the mark.How do top earning athletes make their money? ›
The first is a corporate sponsorship, which is when a company pays the athlete to wear its brand on their clothing. These logos will appear on the athletes' clothing during non-Olympic competitions, though. Another source of income is through endorsement deals. This is very common with medal-winning Olympians.Who is the top 10 richest footballer? ›
- Neymar (Net Worth) - $200 million.
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Net Worth) - $190 million. ...
- Wayne Rooney (Net Worth) - $170 million. ...
- Ronaldo (Net Worth) - $160 million. ...
- Alexandre Pato (Net Worth) - $150 million. ...
1. Lionel Messi (PSG)What is the highest yearly salary in sports? ›
|Name, Organization, Sport||Average per Year|
|LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers, Basketball||$38,328,212|
|James Harden, Houston Rockets → Brooklyn Nets, Basketball||$38,000,000|
|Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors, Basketball||$37,980,720|
|Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees, Baseball||$36,000,000|
Jerome Johnson Richardson Sr. (born July 18, 1936) is an American businessman, former NFL player and former owner in the National Football League (NFL). He established the Carolina Panthers franchise, which he owned for 23 years. Spring Hope, North Carolina, U.S.Who is the first NBA billionaire? ›
LeBron James poses at the premiere of the film Hustle on June 1 at the Regency Village Theatre in Los Angeles. James' net worth recently broke $1 billion, making him the first ever active NBA player to become a billionaire.
In fact, many famous billionaires actually grew up poor. From George Soros to Larry Ellison to Oprah Winfrey, here's a look at how some of the wealthiest people on the planet came up from nothing. Billionaires aren't all born with silver spoons in their mouths. In fact, many came from nothing at all.What sport has the richest athletes? ›
Highest Paying Sports in the World
Basketball is the highest paid sport in the world, with the average annual salary in the NBA in 2023 being nearly $10.5 million. This is more than double the average salary in the NFL, which sits in second place at $4.5 million.
He's perhaps one of the best-known Black baseball players of all time. And though he's retired from the diamond, Derek Jeter earned a grand total of $265 million in salary throughout the course of his career, per Celebrity Net Worth.
Soccer – 3.5 Billion Fans
The sport's popularity soared across Europe, and in 1904 an international governing body, FIFA, was founded in Paris. Today, the sport is played at professional level all over the world, with an estimated 250 million people playing regularly at amateur level.
Ans. Football, Tennis, Baseball, Boxing, Cricket, Ice Hockey, Golf and motor sports are among the richest sports in the world. With a net worth of about $600 billion, football is the richest sport on the planet and is one of the most popular sports in the United States, with between 390 and 410 million fans worldwide.What is the biggest sport in the world financially? ›
|Rank||Sports League||Revenue (USD billions)|
As the granddaughter of the founder of L'Oreal, Francoise Bettencourt Meyers has been named as the richest woman in the world.Who is the youngest billionaire in the world? ›
Kim Jung-youn, daughter of Nexon-founder Kim Jung-ju, becomes the world's youngest billionaire thanks to her inheritance from her late father. Kim Jung-youn is the world's youngest billionaire, according to reports.Who was the first woman billionaire in America? ›
Madam. C.J. Walker, the first self-made female millionaire in the U.S., is the next female role model to be honored in Barbie's line of Inspiring Women dolls. Walker, the daughter of former slaves, was born as Sarah Breedlove.Who is the richest black boxer? ›
Floyd Mayweather Jr. is the richest boxer of all time. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Mayweather earned more than $1 billion in his boxing career.
Aftermath. The Jack Dempsey versus Georges Carpentier bout was the first ever boxing fight to produce $1,000,000 in revenue, or a "million dollar gate" at a then record of $1,789,238.Who is a trillionaire in the US? ›
A trillionaire is an individual with a net worth equal to at least one trillion in U.S. dollars or a similarly valued currency, such as the euro or the British pound. Currently, no one has yet claimed trillionaire status, although some of the world's richest individuals may only be a few years away from this milestone.Who is the number 1 female athlete? ›
|1||Jackie Joyner-Kersee||Track & Field|
|2||Babe Didrikson Zaharias||Track & Field|
|3||Billie Jean King||Tennis|
|4||Sonja Henie||Figure Skating|
The most charitable athlete in the world is Cristiano Ronaldo. The Real Madrid star topped the "Top 20 Athletes Gone Good" list from DoSomething.org which ranks the top most charitable athletes on the planet.Who is the highest paid athlete ever in history? ›
1. Michael Jordan. Though few in basketball history can match the accolades, awards, and championships Michael Jordan amassed in his 15 seasons in the league, the Chicago Bulls legend also claims prestige as the first-ever billionaire player in NBA history.Who is the number one athlete in 2022? ›
Greatest athletes of 2022 'revealed' with five stars of US sport joining soccer legends and tennis icon in top 10. LIONEL MESSI was named the greatest athlete of 2022 in a fan poll ahead of five US sport stars. The soccer superstar guided Argentina to World Cup glory in Qatar earlier this month.Who is the highest paid NFL player? ›
The Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers leads the list, at $50.3 million per year. The Denver Broncos' Russell Wilson is second, at $49 million per season, with the Arizona Cardinals' Kyler Murray at $46.1 million.Who was the first billionaire athlete? ›
Now Woods can add one more accolade to his trophy case: the first athlete to earn $1 billion. Our calculations show that the $10 million bonus Woods earned winning this year's FedEx Cup title nudged him over the $1 billion mark in career earnings.What sportsman earned $1 billion? ›
Being the best NBA player helped Jordan earn money on the court, but he has amassed US$1.7 billion (RM7. 54 billion) through his Jordan Brand clothing and footwear, endorsements, and other brands contract. Tiger Woods was the first athlete to surpass US$1 billion (RM4.Who is the greatest living athlete? ›
- LeBron James (786 points) ...
- Serena Williams (781 points) ...
- Tom Brady (742 points) ...
- Simone Biles (740 points) ...
- Usain Bolt (654 points) ...
- Mike Trout (610 points) ...
- Steph Curry (571 points) ...
- Lionel Messi (570 points)
- Michael Jordan.
- Babe Ruth.
- Muhammad Ali.
- Jim Brown.
- Wayne Gretzky.
- Jesse Owens.
- Jim Thorpe.
- Willie Mays.
- Cristiano Ronaldo.
- Neymar Jr.
- Lionel Messi.
- Tom Brady.
- Novak Djokovic.
- Virat Kohli.
- LeBron James.
- Rafael Nadal.
The NFL won't disclose how much money their referees make, but based on the expired collective bargaining agreement from 2019, officials made an average of $201,000 per year, according to Money.com. That accounts for all officials that appear on the field, which means the head referees for games could make even more.Who is highest-paid NFL quarterback? ›
- Aaron Rodgers. GB, QB. $59,515,000.
- Daniel Jones. NYG, QB. $46,000,000.
- Deshaun Watson. CLE, QB. $46,000,000.
- Patrick Mahomes. KC, QB. $40,450,000.
- Kyler Murray. ARI, QB. $39,000,000.
Tom Brady signed a 1 year, $15,000,000 contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, including $15,000,000 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $15,000,000. Contract Notes: 2022 Roster Bonus: $13.88M (fully guaranteed, treated as signing bonus)