10 Highest Paid Athletes In The World (#3 Might Surprise You)

By Duane Beckett
Highest Paid Athletes In The World
Credit: Lluis / Wiki Commons

Soccer stars rank 1 and 2 on this highest paid athletes list. With both earning more than $1 billion during their careers so far.

You’ll be amazed by this top-10’s earnings, as some stars are all about big money contracts, whereas others are reliant on mega sponsorship deals to make this list.

10. Kevin Durant – Brooklyn Nets (NBA)

Kevin Durant was paid $38 million in his first year of a four-year contract worth $164 million despite never playing. The player was in rehabilitation from a torn Achilles tendon. Nevertheless, he remains one of the most recognized names in the world of basketball.

Owing to his popularity, he is also one of the prominent faces for Degree, Foot Locker, and Nike, along with over 40 other companies that he is investing with. He also spent the better half of the 2020 season expanding his ThirtyFive Ventures media and management brand. His brand is a prominent partner with Apple, ESPN, YouTube, Showtime, and many others.

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9. Tom Brady – Tampa Bay Lightning (NFL)

Admit it, you thought he’d be top-5 on this highest paid athletes list? We did:

Anyway, the greatest of all time (GOAT) Tom Brady earns $45 million annually from the game and $31 million from sponsorships. For what he’s won, he should be top-5 at least!

8. Lewis Hamilton – Formula 1

This eras most famous and successful Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton earns a whopping $70 million from the sport annually, and $12 million from endorsements.

7. Stephen Curry – Golden State Warriors (NBA)

Even after missing most of the 2019-20 season due to the broken hand, Stephen Curry earned one of the highest salaries of any athlete in the United States – a whopping $40.2 million. In 2021, this amount is set to increase to $43 million as part of his five-year supermax deal worth $201 million (signed in 2017).

Stephen Curry is also the face of the Under Armour brand and recently released the eighth edition of his signature shoe. He also has many endorsements with Chase Banks, Steiner Sports Memorabilia, Callaway Golf, and others. Off-court earnings are estimated to be over $44 million annually.

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6. Neymar – PSG (Soccer)

The well-known Brazilian soccer star is in the middle of his five-year, $350 million contract with club Paris Saint-Germain. This contract has made him the third highest-paid soccer star in the world. And after the 2018 World Cup, he has also become one of the most renowned names in the sport, with 244 million social media followers.

In 2020, his 11-year relationship with the Nike Jordan brand came to an end, and he shortly replaced that with a new lucrative deal with Puma. He also has endorsement deals with Electronic Arts, Mastercard, Gillette, Red Bull, and many others.

5. LeBron James – Los Angeles Lakers (NBA)

One of the greatest basketball stars of all time makes it into the top-5 on this highest paid athletes list. Like Tom Brady, he should be higher (surely?).

LeBron James is a well-known name around the world. And the star recently added a fourth NBA Championship to his name in 2020. Aside from the $37 million he earned in year two of his four-year contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, he also extended this contract for two more years for $85 million. By the end of 2020, his net worth was estimated to be $99.2 million.

Off-court, he remains the most famous athlete in the United States, easily earning over $60 million yearly from endorsements with AT&T, Nike, Coca-Cola, Kia Motors, HBO, Beats, and many others.

4. Roger Federer – Tennis

Roger Federer’s 2020 was impaired by a knee injury, yet, despite a lack of matches in 2020, Roger Federer still earned $106 million.

He also owns the record for being the first tennis player ever to be given the title of the highest earning athlete in the world.

Federer’s robust portfolio of endorsements earns him a significant chunk of his overall earnings. Making anywhere between $3 million to $30 million from his corporate partnerships, including Rolex, Mercedes-Benz, and Barilla.

3. Dak Prescott – Dallas Cowboys (NFL)

We can’t believe it either… Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is #3 on this highest paid athletes list. Earning an unbelievable $97.5 million annually from the game and $10 million from sponsorships.

Is he worth it? We’ll let you decide that one.

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2. Cristiano Ronaldo – Juventus (Soccer)

With a net worth of $105 million, this Juventus superstar has finished amongst the top three highest-earning athletes in the world for seven consecutive years. Ronaldo earns over $60 million yearly from his games, along with $45 million off the field. His prominent endorsements include Herbalife, Nike, Unilever, DAZN, amongst others.

As he is a well-recognized international ambassador for soccer, he has partnered with the United Arab Emirates to attract businesses and athletes to live and invest in the country. He is also the most followed athlete on Instagram, having 243 million followers as of December 2020.

Ronaldo was the first soccer player to earn $1 billion in his career.

1. Lionel Messi – Barcelona (Soccer)

The undisputed #1 on this highest paid athletes list is Argentinian superstar Lionel Messi. The star signed a new deal with his club Barcelona during the 2020-21 season. It is a contract that earns him a whopping $80 million annually.

With an estimated total net worth of $104 million, Messi became the second footballer to earn $1 billion in his career (2020). In addition, his many endorsements include a lifetime deal with Adidas, as well as deals with Turkish Airlines, Pepsi, Mastercard, Gillette, and Gatorade.

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