Richest Athletes in the World

Sports are essential for every human being in order to maintain a good balance of physical and mental health. People have started exploring various career paths in sports to incorporate fitness, strength, and flexibility in their daily life. Did you know that you can earn significant wealth by taking up a sport and becoming successful in it, like Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Tiger Woods? In this article, we have compiled a list of the 50 richest athletes in the world, and how they have become famous in their career. This will surely inspire you to do the same and achieve popularity as well as financial success.

50 Richest Athletes in the World (2023)

In the world of sports, there exists a vast array of athletes who are generously compensated for representing their respective nations and their ability to captivate audiences with their remarkable talents. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the world’s top-earning athletes achieved unprecedented financial success.

This article presents a comprehensive list of the 50 richest athletes in the world, including soccer legends, basketball superstars, golf prodigies, and many more. Numerous instances demonstrated the immense wealth accumulated by these individuals, primarily through lucrative endorsement deals, surpassing their earnings from playing contracts alone.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo

  • Total Earnings: $136 Million
  • Sports: Soccer

Cristiano Ronaldo’s estimated net worth stands at an impressive $500 million, a testament to his exceptional talent, dedication, and the numerous lucrative endorsement deals he has secured throughout his illustrious football career. He is one of the richest athletes in the world.

Ronaldo’s net worth is a result of his remarkable skills on the field and his relentless work ethic, which have catapulted him to the status of a global icon. He has effectively become the face of several renowned brands, including Nike, Tag Heuer, and Clear, amplifying his earnings through successful endorsement partnerships.

Beyond his football success and endorsements, Ronaldo has ventured into diverse business opportunities. Investments in hotels and his own clothing line have further bolstered his financial portfolio.

Unsurprisingly, his opulent lifestyle, marked by extravagant vacations and luxuries, serves as a visible testament to the immense wealth he has accumulated over the years. Ronaldo is renowned for having the largest fan base and most followers on popular social networking platforms such as Instagram and Facebook.

2. Lionel Messi

  • Total Earnings: $130 Million
  • Sports: Soccer

Lionel Messi, with his remarkable earnings, has rightfully earned the reputation as one of the greatest soccer players in history. His numerous individual awards, coupled with his crucial role in leading Barcelona to 10 La Liga titles and 4 Champions League titles, have solidified his status as a football legend.

Beyond his on-field success, Messi has been a sought-after figure in the endorsement world, collaborating with major brands like Adidas, Pepsi, and Apple, which has contributed significantly to his wealth. In 2022, he achieved a career milestone by leading Argentina to victory in the World Cup, further enhancing his already illustrious career. Consequently, he has consistently ranked among the world’s top-earning athletes and highest-earning footballers globally.

Currently plying his trade with MLS team Inter Miami, Messi’s net worth is estimated at approximately $600 million. His journey from a talented young player to a worldwide football icon serves as an inspiration to many aspiring athletes and fans alike.

3. Kylian Mbappe

  • Total Earnings: $120 Million
  • Sports: Soccer

At just 24 years old, Kylian Mbappe has achieved remarkable success in his football career. His extraordinary skills and talent with the ball have made him a force to be reckoned with, and he enjoys immense popularity worldwide. As one of the most sought-after players, he has become a global superstar and is said to be the highest-earning footballer in club football.

Mbappe’s endorsement deals with prominent brands such as Nike, Oakley, and Hublot further add to his prominence. With an estimated net worth of $180 million, he has secured a solid financial standing in the sports industry. No wonder he features in our list of the richest athletes in the world.

4. LeBron James

  • Total Earnings: $119.5 Million
  • Sports: Basketball

LeBron James, a renowned basketball player, has not only established himself as one of the greatest in the sport but has also achieved immense financial success. According to Forbes, his net worth stands at a whopping $100 million.

His substantial earnings come not only from his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers but also from lucrative endorsement deals with major companies such as Nike, Coca-Cola, Beats by Dre, and Kia Motors. Additionally, he has invested in the Liverpool Football Club and Blaze Pizza, further contributing to his wealth. He ranks among the highest paid athletes globally.

Despite his remarkable fortune, LeBron James is widely recognized for his philanthropy and generosity. He has donated millions of dollars to support underprivileged individuals, particularly children, and has initiated various charitable endeavors through his foundation, focusing on providing educational opportunities for kids in need.

5. Canelo Alvarez

  • Total Earnings: $110 Million
  • Sports: Boxing

Canelo Alvarez, the renowned boxing champion, has achieved immense financial success, earning tens of millions of dollars with each fight. In September 2022, he made a groundbreaking move by signing with Excel Sports Management, becoming the first boxer to be represented by the esteemed agency.

Beyond the boxing ring, Canelo has diversified his income streams through various ventures. He has lucrative marketing deals, notably with Hennessy, and also owns a popular taco restaurant in his home country of Mexico. Additionally, he actively promotes boxing matches, concerts, and other events through his companies, Canelo Promotions and Canelo Espectaculos.

Capitalizing on his fame and brand, Canelo has expanded into the fashion industry with his own clothing line. He has also entered into a partnership with a fintech firm to launch a branded credit card. In the health and wellness sector, he is the driving force behind the sports drink maker Yaoca and the fitness app I Can.

Beyond his entertainment and business ventures, Canelo has demonstrated a keen interest in real estate investments. In a 2021 interview with Graham Bensinger, he mentioned his annual earnings of nearly $20 million from these investments and revealed plans to open a significant number of gas stations in Mexico, aiming for 90 to 100 new locations.

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6. Dustin Johnson

  • Total Earnings: $107 Million
  • Sports: Golf

In 2020, Dustin Johnson achieved a remarkable feat by winning the FedEx Cup, securing the coveted $15 million prize. Just a couple of months later, he demonstrated his skill once again, claiming his second major title at the Masters. The tournament had been postponed from its traditional April slot due to the pandemic.

In 2022, Johnson made headlines when he made a significant career move, joining the emerging LIV Golf tour, which is financially backed by Saudi investors. His decision proved to be financially rewarding, as he received a substantial upfront payment for signing with the tour, and his impressive performance throughout the season earned him over $35 million in LIV prize money and bonuses. He is one of the richest athletes in the world.

Unfortunately, Johnson’s move to LIV Golf came with consequences, as he experienced a setback with his sponsors. In February 2023, he parted ways with his long-standing partner Adidas, signaling a significant change in his endorsement deals.

7. Phil Mickelson

  • Total Earnings: $106 Million
  • Sports: Golf

In 2021, Phil Mickelson achieved a historic milestone in golf by winning the PGA Championship at the age of 50, making him the oldest major winner ever and bringing his total major titles to six. Surprisingly, in 2023, at the age of 52, he secured a runner-up finish at the Masters tournament.

Following the controversy stirred by his comments in February 2022, where he expressed a willingness to overlook alleged human rights violations in Saudi Arabia to join a new golf league, Phil Mickelson decided to take a break from competitive golf.

As a consequence of his remarks, major sponsors like Workday and KPMG dropped their endorsements. However, he received a boost in earnings as he received $6 million from the PGA Tour’s Player Impact Program, and he also made a significant profit of selling six golf courses in August 2021.

In 2022, Phil Mickelson joined the LIV Golf tour and served as the captain of the Hy Flyers GC team. With a career prize money total of over $96 million on the PGA Tour, he currently ranks second only to Tiger Woods in terms of earnings in tour history. Nonetheless, his most substantial income has come from off-course ventures, amassing more than $800 million throughout his career. He is one of the world’s top-earning athletes.

8. Stephen Curry

  • Total Earnings: $100.4 Million
  • Sports: Basketball

In 2017, Stephen Curry, the esteemed basketball player and two-time MVP, made history by becoming the first NBA player to sign a groundbreaking $200 million contract. His remarkable achievements continued in 2021 when he secured another milestone by inking a four-year extension worth $215 million, making him the first player to have two such lucrative deals.

Capitalizing on his success and business acumen, Curry established a new venture called SC30 in 2017. This company effectively manages his investments, brand partnerships, and philanthropic endeavors, further showcasing his versatility beyond the basketball court.

Recognizing Curry’s immense popularity and market appeal, Under Armour decided to launch Curry Brand in November 2020. This strategic move aimed to rival the iconic Nike Jordan Brand and tap into Curry’s global fanbase.

March 2023 saw Curry strengthening his association with Under Armour even further as he signed a long-term extension with the apparel company. This groundbreaking deal is set to extend well into Curry’s retirement from professional basketball, demonstrating the enduring partnership between the player and the brand.

Diversifying his business portfolio, Curry’s production company, Unanimous Media, made significant strides in September 2021 by entering into a development deal with Comcast NBCUniversal. This partnership promises exciting new ventures in the entertainment industry.

Additionally, Curry ventured into the world of podcasting in November 2020 by collaborating with Audible. This expansion into the digital media space marked another successful move in his quest for broader influence and engagement. No wonder he features in our list of the richest athletes in the world.

9. Roger Federer

  • Total Earnings: $95.1 Million
  • Sports: Tennis

Roger Federer boasts an unparalleled sponsor portfolio within the realm of sports. In 2020, this distinction propelled him to become the world’s highest-earning athlete for the first time, although he settled at the 9th spot in 2023.

A significant component of his sponsorship deals is his partnership with the Japanese apparel brand, Uniqlo. Back in 2018, Federer inked a remarkable ten-year contract worth $300 million with the company. Despite earning an impressive $130 million in prize money throughout his illustrious tennis career, his off-court earnings from endorsements and appearances far exceed this amount.

One of Federer’s most promising financial ventures lies in his investment in the Swiss athletic apparel company, On, which went public in September 2021. This stake could potentially become his most lucrative deal yet. He ranks among the highest paid athletes globally.

Beyond his sporting achievements and business ventures, Federer’s namesake foundation has achieved remarkable milestones. Launched to help children in Africa, the foundation has successfully raised over $50 million and provided education to 1.5 million children.

10. Kevin Durant

  • Total Earnings: $89.1 Million
  • Sports: Basketball

After spending three years with the Golden State Warriors, Kevin Durant made a significant move in 2019, joining the Brooklyn Nets in a lucrative four-year contract worth $164 million. In a surprising turn of events, he was later traded to the Phoenix Suns in February 2023.

Kevin Durant, a basketball superstar, has achieved great financial success beyond his on-court earnings. He rakes in over $40 million annually through various off-court ventures, including endorsement deals with companies like Coinbase, NBA Top Shot, and Weedmaps.

Moreover, Durant is an astute investor, having put his money into more than 80 companies through his firm, 35V. He has also ventured into the media world with his brand, Boardroom, and was involved as a producer in the award-winning film Two Distant Strangers, which won an Oscar in 2021.

Outside of basketball and business, Durant has shown interest in the sports world by purchasing a stake in Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union in 2020. He further expanded his sports portfolio by acquiring stakes in NWSL’s Gotham FC and a Major League Pickleball franchise in 2022.

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11. Giannis Antetokounmpo

  • Total Earnings: $87.6 Million
  • Sports: Basketball

In December 2020, Giannis Antetokounmpo signed a lucrative five-year, $228 million supermax extension with the Milwaukee Bucks, granting him the option to opt-out after the fourth year. The basketball star had already earned great recognition for his exceptional skills, being named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player for both the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons, as well as the Defensive Player of the Year for the latter season.

His remarkable performance not only brought glory on the court but also attracted substantial rewards from sponsors. Notably, Nike extended its endorsement deal with Antetokounmpo in 2017, and his first MVP award triggered generous bonuses from the brand. In 2019, Nike launched the Zoom Freak 1, which became the most extensive initial signature shoe launch in the history of Nike basketball.

Outside the realm of sports, Giannis Antetokounmpo’s inspiring life story garnered attention from Hollywood. Disney secured a deal in 2020 to develop a movie based on his life, following a similar theme to The Blind Side. Titled Rise, the film was eventually released on Disney+ in June 2022, providing an insight into the remarkable journey of the Greek Freak. He is one of the richest athletes in the world.

12. Neymar

  • Total Earnings: $85 Million
  • Sports: Soccer

During May 2021, Neymar committed to a contract extension, binding him to Paris Saint-Germain until the summer of 2025. The new agreement included lucrative performance bonuses, notably a substantial increase if PSG triumphs in the Champions League. Neymar’s move from Barcelona to PSG in 2017, costing a record-breaking $263 million, was fully paid by the French club before his official signing. He is one of the world’s top-earning athletes.

In 2020, Neymar made headlines when he announced his departure from Nike’s Jordan Brand before securing a new deal with Puma. Beyond his footballing endeavors, Neymar ventured into the world of NFTs, teaming up with the platform NFTSTAR in November 2021. Notably, he displayed a keen interest in the NFT space by investing over $1 million in acquiring two Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs within a single day in January 2022.

13. Russell Wilson

  • Total Earnings: $85 Million
  • Sports: Football

In April 2019, the Seattle Seahawks secured Russell Wilson’s services for an additional four years, agreeing to a lucrative $140 million extension that made him the highest-paid player in the NFL at the time. However, in March 2022, the quarterback was traded to the Denver Broncos. Following the trade, Wilson wasted no time in committing to his new team, signing a substantial five-year, $245 million extension with the Broncos, which included an impressive $165 million in guaranteed money.

Beyond his accomplishments on the field, Russell Wilson is a well-rounded individual with diverse interests. He is not only a nine-time Pro Bowler but also the visionary behind the brand management firm West2East Empire, which has successfully launched two production companies. No wonder he features in our list of the richest athletes in the world.

Furthermore, Russell Wilson has a strong connection to the world of baseball. He was originally drafted by the Colorado Rockies back in 2010 and is actively involved in the Portland Diamond Project, an ambitious initiative aiming to bring a Major League Baseball team to Oregon.

Among his many achievements, Wilson’s leadership skills and exceptional talent were instrumental in leading the Seattle Seahawks to their first and only Super Bowl championship during the 2013-14 season.

14. Russell Westbrook

  • Total Earnings: $82.1 Million
  • Sports: Basketball

Russell Westbrook’s basketball journey saw several significant moves in recent years. After spending eight years with the Oklahoma City Thunder, he was traded to the Houston Rockets in December 2019. A year later, in December 2020, he found himself with the Washington Wizards. However, his time in Washington was short-lived, as he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in August 2021. And most recently, in February 2023, Russell Westbrook signed with the Los Angeles Clippers.

During his time with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Westbrook signed a groundbreaking five-year, $207 million extension in 2017, making it the NBA’s largest-ever contract in terms of total value at that time. In the same year, he also extended his partnership with Nike’s Jordan brand for another ten years and received his first signature shoe in 2018. He ranks among the highest paid athletes globally.

Russell Westbrook’s remarkable skills on the court have earned him numerous accolades, including being a two-time scoring champion. Notably, in 2017, he was named the league MVP, a testament to his exceptional performance. One of his most remarkable achievements is being the only player in NBA history to average a triple-double for three consecutive seasons.

15. Rory McIlroy

  • Total Earnings: $80.8 Million
  • Sports: Golf

Rory McIlroy is renowned as one of the PGA Tour’s most marketable golfers, second only to Tiger Woods in off-the-course earnings. In 2022, he achieved his most significant on-course payday, amassing a record $26.7 million in prize money, which included a remarkable $18 million for winning the FedEx Cup title.

In a major business move, both McIlroy and Woods made headlines in 2022 by co-founding TMRW Sports, a technology-focused venture with ambitious plans to launch a new golf league called TGL.

Back in 2019, NBC Sports partnered with Rory McIlroy to introduce GolfPass, an innovative digital subscription service aimed at assisting golf enthusiasts in enhancing their game.

McIlroy showcased his exceptional skills in February 2020, reclaiming the top spot in the World Golf Ranking, a remarkable feat that came four years after his previous reign. However, as of May 2022, he had slipped to the seventh position in the rankings.

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16. Tiger Woods

  • Total Earnings: $75.1 Million
  • Sports: Golf

Tiger Woods, renowned for his illustrious pro golf career, has amassed a staggering $1.8 billion in earnings, which includes an impressive $121 million in prize money from PGA Tour events, a record-setting achievement. Notably, Forbes officially recognized him as a billionaire in 2022, making him only the second active athlete to achieve this distinction, following LeBron James.

Despite his tremendous financial success, Woods declined a massive offer from the emerging LIV Golf tour, which LIV CEO Greg Norman described as high nine digits. His wealth was further augmented through savvy investments, including two properties on Jupiter Island, a flourishing golf-course design business, and a high-end mini-golf chain called Popstroke.

In 2022, Tiger Woods partnered with fellow golf star Rory McIlroy to establish TMRW Sports, a technology-focused venture with ambitious plans to launch a new golf league known as TGL. Additionally, the golf superstar is involved in a luxury real-estate venture named Nexxus, in which he is a partner with Justin Timberlake and British billionaire Joe Lewis. He is one of the richest athletes in the world.

17. Cameron Smith

  • Total Earnings: $73 Million
  • Sports: Golf

In 2022, Cameron Smith made a significant move by joining LIV Golf, an emerging league. This signing was a major achievement for the league, which had primarily attracted seasoned golfers, unlike the 29-year-old rising star that Smith was. During that year, Smith had a remarkable season, claiming his first major title at the 2022 British Open and also securing victory in the prestigious Players Championship.

Throughout the year, Cameron Smith participated in four LIV events and managed to amass an impressive sum of over $7 million in prize money. He is one of the world’s top-earning athletes.

18. Brooks Koepka

  • Total Earnings: $72 Million
  • Sports: Golf

In 2022, Brooks Koepka, along with several other PGA Tour stars, made the move to the newly established LIV Golf tour, lured by a substantial financial promise – a whopping salary of $66 million. With four major titles already under his belt, he appeared destined to claim a fifth at the 2023 Masters, but a disappointing performance on the final day led to him finishing in a tie for second place. During 2018, 2019, and 2020, he enjoyed periods at the top spot of the World Golf Ranking. No wonder he features in our list of the richest athletes in the world.

19. Kyler Murray

  • Total Earnings: $70.5 Million
  • Sports: Football

Murray was once hailed as a promising baseball prospect, but he made the bold decision to shift gears and pursue a career in football. His talents on the field led him to be the first overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft, where he joined the Arizona Cardinals.

In July 2022, Murray secured his future with the Cardinals by signing a lucrative contract extension worth a staggering sum of up to $230.5 million, spanning five years. He ranks among the highest paid athletes globally.

Aside from his success in football, Murray also became an integral part of the prestigious esports organization, FaZe Clan, starting in 2021. During the same year, he achieved another remarkable feat by gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated alongside his fellow FaZe Clan members.

20. Bryson DeChambeau

  • Total Earnings: $69 Million
  • Sports: Golf

In 2022, Bryson DeChambeau made a significant impact by leaving the PGA Tour to join LIV Golf, a league supported by Saudi backers, where he received a substantial upfront payment. His star power and reputation in the golfing world played a crucial role in commanding this lucrative deal. During his debut event with LIV Golf in July, he earned an impressive $560,000, almost three times more than his total earnings from his previous seven tournaments in 2022.

Bryson DeChambeau is widely recognized for his achievements, having won the U.S. Open in 2020 and even participated in the 2022 Professional Long Drivers Association’s World Championships, where he reached the final, competing against another golfer in a thrilling two-man showdown.

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21. Lewis Hamilton

  • Total Earnings: $65 Million
  • Sports: Auto Racing

In 2020, Lewis Hamilton achieved a historic milestone in Formula 1 by clinching the drivers’ title, matching Michael Schumacher’s legendary record of seven championships. Although he came close to securing another championship in 2021, he narrowly missed the mark. During July 2021, Hamilton committed to staying with Mercedes’ F1 team for an additional two years, signing a contract extension.

Beyond his on-track success, Hamilton has become the most marketable athlete in the sport, leveraging his fashion-forward image to collaborate with Tommy Hilfiger since 2018. His earnings encompass a salary and winnings amounting to $55 million, while his endorsements contribute an additional $10 million. He is one of the richest athletes in the world.

22. Max Verstappen

  • Total Earnings: $64 Million
  • Sports: Auto Racing

Max Verstappen made an impressive entry into Formula 1, becoming the youngest driver ever to compete in the series at just 17 years old. He quickly proved his talent by securing F1’s youngest race victory at the age of 18 years and 228 days in 2016.

In 2020, Verstappen’s exceptional performance earned him substantial bonuses when he finished third for Red Bull Racing. The following year, he reached even greater heights by claiming the F1 drivers’ title. The thrilling victory came in a nail-biting final race where he overtook Lewis Hamilton on the last lap.

The 2022 season showcased Verstappen’s dominance as he comfortably won the drivers’ championship by triumphing in an impressive 15 races. Not only did he shine individually, but he also played a pivotal role in securing the constructors’ championship for Red Bull Racing.

Regarding earnings, Verstappen’s salary and winnings amounted to a remarkable $60 million, while his endorsements contributed an additional $4 million to his financial success. His outstanding performances on the track and his marketability as an athlete have made him one of the most prominent figures in the world of motorsports and one of the world’s top-earning athletes.

23. Klay Thompson

  • Total Earnings: $60.9 Million
  • Sports: Basketball

In 2019, the Golden State Warriors re-signed Thompson, one of the deadliest shooters in basketball, to a lucrative five-year contract worth $190 million. Unfortunately, his career was hindered by injuries, as he suffered a torn ACL in the 2019-20 season and missed the entire 2020-21 season due to an Achilles tendon injury. However, he made a remarkable comeback in January 2022 when he returned to the court.

Despite being sidelined, Thompson managed to secure endorsement deals with several prominent brands, including Waiakea Water, Bevel, and NERF. Additionally, he inked a substantial ten-year partnership with the Chinese shoe brand Anta, which was valued at $80 million before bonuses and royalties. Beyond his athletic pursuits, Thompson is also a co-founder of the Just Live CBD company. No wonder he features in our list of the richest athletes in the world.

With an impressive track record of four NBA championships and five All-Star appearances, Thompson’s popularity soared even further when he made a cameo appearance in the movie Space Jam: A New Legacy.

24. Patrick Mahomes

  • Total Earnings: $59.3 Million
  • Sports: Football

In February 2023, Patrick Mahomes achieved an impressive feat by making his third Super Bowl appearance in just four years. During that game, he secured his second Super Bowl title and earned his second Super Bowl MVP Award. This remarkable success has played a pivotal role in boosting Mahomes’ endorsement portfolio significantly. Among NFL players, only Tom Brady has managed to secure more endorsement deals in recent times. He ranks among the highest paid athletes globally.

Back in July 2020, Mahomes inked a monumental ten-year contract extension with the Chiefs, amounting to a staggering value of up to $503 million. This long-term deal solidified his position as a five-time Pro Bowler and reaffirmed his status as one of the league’s most prominent and highly regarded players.

25. Damian Lillard

  • Total Earnings: $58.6 Million
  • Sports: Basketball

In July 2022, Portland Trail Blazers’ star player, Damian Lillard, agreed to a lucrative two-year contract extension with the team, amounting to a reported $122 million. This extension effectively ties him to Portland until the end of the 2026-27 NBA season. Known for his exceptional skills on the court, Lillard’s Adidas signature shoe line has been a huge success, ranking among the top sellers for the company. The latest addition to his line, the Dame 8, hit the market in January 2022.

Throughout his impressive career from 2013-14 to 2020-21, Lillard consistently led the Trail Blazers to the playoffs every season. His talent was evident from the start, as he earned the title of Rookie of the Year in the season before this remarkable playoff streak. Unfortunately, the following season saw him sidelined due to injury, playing in only 29 games.

Beyond basketball, Lillard is a multi-talented artist, having released four studio albums under his rap moniker, Dame D.O.L.L.A. He’s also a passionate advocate, serving as a global ambassador for the Special Olympics. One of his tracks, Money Ball, gained significant recognition when it featured on the NBA 2K20 soundtrack.

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26. Max Scherzer

  • Total Earnings: $56.7 Million
  • Sports: Baseball

During his second year with the Mets, Scherzer finds himself in the top spot alongside his teammate, Justin Verlander, for the highest playing salary in Major League Baseball, both earning $43.3 million (excluding deferred money). In 2019, Scherzer played a pivotal role in leading the Washington Nationals to victory in the World Series.

Even after leaving Washington, Scherzer continues to benefit financially as he is set to receive $15 million in deferred payments from the Nationals in 2023, with an additional $75 million in deferred payments scheduled to be paid out to him by 2028. He is one of the richest athletes in the world.

27. James Harden

  • Total Earnings: $55.1 Million
  • Sports: Basketball

In January 2021, James Harden’s wish for a trade was granted, and he left the Houston Rockets to join the Brooklyn Nets. However, in February 2022, he was traded once again, this time to the Philadelphia 76ers. During the free agency in July 2022, Harden signed a two-year contract with the Sixers, amounting to $68.6 million. He chose to take a discounted deal to allow the team more financial flexibility in improving their roster. He is one of the world’s top-earning athletes.

Back in 2015, Adidas signed James Harden to a remarkable 13-year endorsement deal, worth an astonishing $200 million, making him one of the prominent faces of their NBA campaign. Throughout his career, Harden has earned significant recognition, being awarded the league MVP title in 2018 and finishing as the runner-up three times in 2015, 2017, and 2019.

Apart from his basketball career, Harden has also made shrewd business moves. He held an equity stake in Bodyarmor, and when Coca-Cola acquired the brand in the fall of 2021, he received a substantial payout. Furthermore, he invested $15 million in July 2019 to secure a small ownership stake in the Houston Dynamo of MLS.

28. Anthony Joshua

  • Total Earnings: $53 Million
  • Sports: Boxing

Joshua had a remarkable start to his professional boxing career, securing victory in his first 22 fights and becoming the world heavyweight champion from 2016 to 2019. However, his reign was interrupted by a shocking defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr. in 2019. Nevertheless, he later redeemed himself by avenging the loss with a unanimous decision victory. Despite facing setbacks with two losses against Oleksandr Usyk in 2021 and 2022, Joshua regained momentum with a triumph over Jermaine Franklin in April 2023.

Outside the ring, Joshua boasts an immense social media following, amassing a total of 26 million followers across platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. His popularity and success have also been reflected in his earnings, as he reportedly earns a substantial income. He receives $50 million from his salary and winnings in boxing, and an additional $3 million from endorsement deals. No wonder he features in our list of the richest athletes in the world.

29. Jon Rahm

  • Total Earnings: $53 Million
  • Sports: Golf

Rahm, originally from Spain but now residing in the United States, has achieved remarkable success in both continents. As of May 2023, he boasts an impressive tally of 11 career PGA Tour wins, which includes two major championships, along with eight victories on the European tour.

His performance in 2023 has been nothing short of spectacular, particularly in April when he set a new single-season PGA Tour prize-money record, amassing a staggering $14.5 million in earnings. With four more months left in the year, Rahm had the opportunity to further extend this record. He ranks among the highest paid athletes globally.

At present, Rahm holds the prestigious title of the world’s top-ranked golfer, a testament to his exceptional skills and consistency. Notably, he also holds the record for the longest duration at the peak of the amateur rankings, maintaining the top spot for an impressive 60 weeks.

30. Aaron Rodgers

  • Total Earnings: $53 Million
  • Sports: Football

In the tumultuous 2021 off-season, there was considerable drama surrounding Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. However, they managed to resolve their differences, and Rodgers returned to the team after agreeing to a restructured contract. In March 2022, he inked a lucrative three-year extension worth $150 million. Despite the renewed commitment, things took an unexpected turn in April 2023 when Rodgers was traded to the New York Jets.

Outside of football, Rodgers has been involved in various ventures. In 2018, he made a significant investment by acquiring a minority ownership stake in the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks. Furthermore, in 2019, he co-founded a venture and growth stage fund, valued at $50 million, alongside Nate Raabe and Byron Roth under Roth Capital. This allowed Rodgers to explore interests beyond his football career and participate in entrepreneurial endeavors.

Throughout his illustrious career, Rodgers has achieved significant accolades, earning ten Pro Bowl selections and four MVP awards as of the end of the 2022 season. His impressive record places him fifth in the all-time list for passing touchdowns, with a remarkable total of 475.

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31. Mohamed Salah

  • Total Earnings: $53 Million
  • Sports: Soccer

Salah holds the record as Liverpool FC’s all-time leading scorer in the Champions League. In October 2020, he achieved a significant milestone by netting his 100th Premier League goal for the club, making him the fastest player in the team’s history to achieve this feat in the top flight. To further solidify his commitment to Liverpool, Salah signed a new three-year contract in July 2022, extending his association with the club until the summer of 2025.

Beyond his achievements on the field, Salah is renowned for his philanthropic endeavors, with a focus on making a positive impact in his native country, Egypt. Adidas recognized Salah’s ability to bring people together through the power of sports in its Impossible Is Nothing campaign, commemorating this by projecting his image onto the iconic facade of the Burj Khalifa.

Salah’s earnings consist of a substantial $35 million from salary and winnings, along with an impressive $18 million from various endorsement deals. He is one of the richest athletes in the world.

32. Erling Haaland

  • Total Earnings: $52 Million
  • Sports: Soccer

Haaland, a rapidly emerging soccer sensation, made headlines with a remarkable $63 million transfer from Borussia Dortmund to Manchester City in 2022. During his debut season with Manchester City, Erling Haaland left a lasting impression by shattering the Premier League’s single-season scoring record. In May 2023, with five games still remaining in the season, he reached an impressive milestone of 35 goals.

His exceptional skills and marketability attracted several boot sponsorships, leading to a bidding war. Eventually, Haaland chose to sign with the renowned brand Nike for his endorsement deals. Combining his salary and winnings, Haaland earned an impressive $40 million, while his endorsements brought in an additional $12 million. He is one of the world’s top-earning athletes.

33. Patrick Reed

  • Total Earnings: $52 Million
  • Sports: Golf

In June 2022, Reed made a significant move from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf, a new tour with support from Saudi backers, thanks to a substantial upfront guarantee. His impressive career includes winning the prestigious 2018 Masters and reaching the No. 6 spot in the global rankings in 2020.

As a part of the U.S. team, he has competed in the Ryder Cup three times and earned the moniker Captain America for his remarkable performances. Combining his earnings from salary and winnings, which amount to $49 million, along with endorsement deals worth $3 million, Reed has established himself as a prominent and lucrative figure in the world of golf. No wonder he features in our list of the richest athletes in the world.

34. Paul George

  • Total Earnings: $51.5 Million
  • Sports: Basketball

In 2019, George orchestrated a trade to the Los Angeles Clippers, where he teamed up with his fellow all-NBA player, Kawhi Leonard. Unfortunately, both players have faced injury setbacks since then, with George managing to play only 189 games out of a potential 308 across four seasons. He ranks among the highest paid athletes globally.

Before joining the Clippers, Paul George signed a four-year, $137 million extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2018. Prior to that, he had been traded from the Indiana Pacers. He later extended his contract with the Clippers in December 2020. George’s basketball prowess earned him eight All-Star selections and even landed him on the cover of the popular video game NBA 2K17. Furthermore, he made his mark in the footwear industry, as his first signature shoe, the PG1, was released by Nike in 2017.

35. Kawhi Leonard

  • Total Earnings: $50.5 Million
  • Sports: Basketball

In July 2019, Leonard made a significant move to the Los Angeles Clippers as a free agent, inking a substantial three-year contract worth $103 million. Later, in August 2021, he extended his stay with the team by signing a lucrative four-year deal worth $176.3 million.

During his illustrious career, Leonard achieved great success, being named the NBA Finals MVP in 2014 while playing for the San Antonio Spurs and then again in 2019 with the Toronto Raptors. However, the following season in 2021-2022, he unfortunately had to sit out the entire year due to a knee injury.

In 2018, Leonard made a notable change in his endorsement deals by leaving Nike’s Jordan Brand and taking on the role of the prominent figure for New Balance’s basketball division. An interesting legal dispute arose when Leonard sued Nike in 2019, claiming that he had designed the Klaw logo, which Nike was using without his consent. However, in 2020, a federal judge ruled in favor of Nike, dismissing Leonard’s claim.

Throughout his career, Leonard’s outstanding performance on the court earned him numerous accolades, including being selected as a five-time All-Star and winning the Defensive Player of the Year award twice. Additionally, he was honored with the 2020 All-Star Game MVP Award for his exceptional skills and contributions during the All-Star game.

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36. Bradley Beal

  • Total Earnings: $49.8 Million
  • Sports: Basketball

In July 2022, Bradley Beal inked a lucrative contract extension with the Washington Wizards, securing a max deal valued at an impressive $251 million spanning five years. During the 2019-20 season, this three-time NBA All-Star achieved a remarkable feat by scoring over 50 points on consecutive nights, a feat last accomplished by the legendary Kobe Bryant in 2007.

Before joining the NBA, Beal showcased his immense talent and potential by earning the prestigious title of the 2011 Gatorade National Player of the Year, distinguishing himself as the top high school basketball player in the United States. Subsequently, he honed his skills further during a brief stint at Florida before entering the professional ranks.

His basketball prowess runs in the family as Beal’s mother, Besta, not only played college basketball at Kentucky State but also played a significant role in teaching him the fundamentals of shooting. In terms of earnings, Beal’s salary and winnings amount to an impressive $43.3 million, while he also enjoys lucrative endorsement deals netting him an additional $6.5 million. He is one of the richest athletes in the world.

37. Derek Carr

  • Total Earnings: $48.9 Million
  • Sports: Football

In the 2014 NFL draft, the Raiders selected Carr in the second round. Later, in 2017, the team secured him with a substantial five-year, $125 million contract extension. In March 2023, the quarterback made a move to the Saints, signing a four-year deal valued at a maximum of $150 million. Before departing from the Raiders, he left an impressive legacy as the franchise’s all-time leader in pass completions, passing yards, and fourth-quarter comebacks. He is one of the world’s top-earning athletes.

In the 2023 season, Carr will be contributing a weekly column to NOLA.com. Furthermore, his YouTube channel boasts an impressive 65,000 subscribers. Notably, Carr and his older brother David have strong connections to California’s Central Valley, making them prominent figures in the region. David, who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 NFL draft, shares a football background with his successful younger sibling.

38. Orlando Brown, Jr.

  • Total Earnings: $48.6 Million
  • Sports: Football

Brown, who was drafted in the third round of the 2018 NFL draft, achieved two Pro Bowl selections during his time with the Baltimore Ravens. Subsequently, he was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs in April 2021, where he earned two more Pro Bowl nods and celebrated a Super Bowl victory in February 2023. In March 2023, he sealed a lucrative four-year contract worth $64 million to join the Cincinnati Bengals.

His earnings during his career included a salary of $48.5 million and $100,000 from endorsements. No wonder he features in our list of the richest athletes in the world.

39. Aaron Donald

  • Total Earnings: $48.5 Million
  • Sports: Football

In 2018, Donald inked a record-breaking contract with the Rams, securing a six-year deal worth $135 million, making it the most lucrative contract ever signed by a defensive player in the NFL at that time. Subsequently, in June 2022, he extended his tenure with the Rams by agreeing to a three-year contract valued at $95 million. He ranks among the highest paid athletes globally.

Throughout his illustrious nine-season career, Donald has consistently earned recognition, being selected to the Pro Bowl every year. His exceptional skills and performance have led to him being named a first-team All-Pro on seven occasions and receiving the prestigious title of the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year three times.

40. Anthony Davis

  • Total Earnings: $48 Million
  • Sports: Basketball

The first overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft has achieved great success in his career, earning eight All-Star selections and being named to the all-NBA first team four times. In 2015, Davis signed a lucrative five-year contract extension worth $127 million with the Pelicans. However, in 2019, he was traded to the Lakers following his trade request. Undeterred, Davis committed to the Lakers by signing a five-year, $190 million max contract in 2020.

Not just excelling on the basketball court, Davis also ventured into the entertainment industry. He appeared alongside his Lakers teammate, LeBron James, in the 2021 film Space Jam: A New Legacy. Moreover, Davis has been making strides in the endorsement world. Before the 2017-18 season, he signed a multi-year extension with Nike, contributing to his off-court earnings. Additionally, he partnered with Ruffles in 2019, taking on the role of creative partner to collaborate on innovative product development with the brand.

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41. Jimmy Butler

  • Total Earnings: $47.8 Million
  • Sports: Basketball

Jimmy Butler has played for four different teams since he was drafted by the Chicago Bulls as the last pick in the first round of the 2011 NBA draft. In 2019, he joined the Miami Heat on a four-year, $142 million deal in a sign-and-trade agreement with the Philadelphia 76ers. He is one of the richest athletes in the world.

During the 2019-20 season, Butler ended his association with Nike’s Jordan Brand, even though he still had ten months left on his deal, and he instead signed with Li-Ning in November 2020. Additionally, the six-time NBA All-Star runs a successful YouTube channel that boasts over 700,000 subscribers.

42. John Wall

  • Total Earnings: $47.8 Million
  • Sports: Basketball

In 2020, John Wall made a significant move from the Washington Wizards to the Houston Rockets in a trade. Later in 2022, he joined the Los Angeles Clippers as a free agent. However, in 2023, he returned to the Rockets through another trade but was eventually waived.

Unfortunately, Wall’s career faced challenges due to a ruptured Achilles tendon in 2019, which led to him missing the entire 2019-2020 season. Additionally, during the 2021-2022 season, he voluntarily sat out while the Rockets explored trade opportunities for him.

As for his earnings, John Wall had a combined salary and winnings of $47.3 million, and he also earned $500,000 from endorsement deals. Back in 2018, John Wall had signed a five-year contract with Adidas, but he and the brand ended their partnership during the 2019-2020 season. He is one of the world’s top-earning athletes.

43. Jordan Spieth

  • Total Earnings: $47.5 Million
  • Sports: Golf

After clinching the 2017 British Open, Jordan Spieth distinguished himself as the first male golfer since Jack Nicklaus in 1963 to secure three major wins before turning 24. Despite this achievement, his victory at the Open remained his last PGA Tour triumph until 2021. However, his gameplay made an impressive comeback, propelling him back into the top ten of the World Golf Ranking in April 2023. Spieth’s popularity as a marketable star endured, as evidenced by Under Armour’s launch of the first Spieth signature golf shoe in 2017.

As his career progressed, Spieth expanded his ventures beyond the golf course. In 2022, he took on an investor role in Invited, a company that owns and operates private golf clubs. He also became involved with GOLF+, a virtual-reality game focused on golf. Spieth’s financial success was a combination of his salary and winnings, totaling $17.5 million, and his substantial endorsements, which amounted to $30 million. No wonder he features in our list of the richest athletes in the world.

44. Luka Doncic

  • Total Earnings: $47.2 Million
  • Sports: Basketball

In 2021, Doncic committed to a lucrative five-year supermax contract worth $207 million with the Dallas Mavericks, which commenced during the 2022-2023 NBA season. In 2022, his signature shoe, in collaboration with Nike’s Jordan Brand, was introduced to the market. A follow-up edition of the shoe was anticipated to be released in 2023. Impressively, before turning 24, Doncic had already earned the honor of being selected for four All-Star teams since being drafted as the third overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft. He ranks among the highest paid athletes globally.

45. Scottie Scheffler

  • Total Earnings: $47.1 Million
  • Sports: Golf

In the year 2022, Scheffler achieved a remarkable feat by reaching the pinnacle of the World Golf Ranking, securing the prestigious No. 1 spot. His journey to the top was marked by a stunning streak of four PGA Tour victories, including a triumphant win at the renowned Masters tournament, all accomplished within an impressive span of just six starts.

During that same year, Scheffler also etched his name in the record books of the PGA Tour. He set a new benchmark for official on-course earnings in the regular season, amassing a staggering sum of over $14 million.

Continuing his dominance in the golfing world, Scheffler’s success carried on into March 2023 when he emerged as the champion of the Players Championship. His victory was nothing short of dominant, and it propelled him once again to claim the prestigious No. 1 ranking in the World Golf Ranking.

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46. Sergio Garcia

  • Total Earnings: $46 Million
  • Sports: Golf

Garcia was among the early group of golfers who made the bold move to join the emerging LIV Golf tour, receiving a substantial guaranteed payment for his participation. He first gained widespread attention at the Masters in 1999 while competing as an amateur and later achieved victory in the same tournament as a professional in 2017.

Over the course of his career, the talented Spaniard has proudly represented Europe in the Ryder Cup on ten separate occasions. As for his earnings, Garcia’s salary and winnings amount to an impressive $43 million, and he has further boosted his income with endorsements, raking in an additional $3 million. He is one of the richest athletes in the world.

47. Dak Prescott

  • Total Earnings: $46 Million
  • Sports: Football

In March 2021, despite recovering from a broken ankle, Dak Prescott inked a lucrative four-year deal worth $160 million with the Dallas Cowboys. Notably, he received an unprecedented upfront payment of $66 million as a signing bonus, setting a new record in NFL history. He is one of the world’s top-earning athletes.

Besides his on-field success, the two-time Pro Bowler boasts an impressive array of endorsements, making him one of football’s most sought-after brand ambassadors. Additionally, Dak has made savvy investments, holding a considerable stake in four Walk-On’s restaurants located in Texas.

48. Deshaun Watson

  • Total Earnings: $45.8 Million
  • Sports: Football

In March 2022, the Cleveland Browns acquired Watson through a trade, signing him to a lucrative five-year contract worth $230 million, fully guaranteed.

Back in March 2021, serious sexual assault allegations were brought against Watson, which he vehemently denied. However, the controversy led to several sponsors parting ways with him. Nike, for instance, suspended its endorsement agreement, while Beats, H-E-B, and Reliant Energy chose not to renew their sponsorship deals. No wonder he features in our list of the richest athletes in the world.

49. Serena Williams

  • Total Earnings: $45.3 Million
  • Sports: Tennis

Serena Williams, the renowned tennis legend, retired from her illustrious tennis career in 2022, after amassing an impressive $95 million in prize money. Despite retiring from the sport, Serena remains active in various ventures. She continues to be associated with over a dozen brands through endorsement deals, embarking on her second act as a successful entrepreneur and investor with her firm, Serena Ventures.

One of her notable ventures is co-founding Will Perform, a startup launched in December 2022, dedicated to developing products for topical pain relief, muscle care, and skin care. Additionally, Serena extended her reach into the entertainment industry, launching Nine Two Six Productions in April 2023, focusing on multimedia productions as a producer. She ranks among the highest paid athletes globally.

Serena’s creativity and talents extend beyond sports and business. In 2022, she made a cameo appearance in the film Glass Onion. Furthermore, she demonstrated her literary prowess, releasing her first children’s book in September 2022. Moreover, Serena has diversified her investments by owning a small stake in the Miami Dolphins football team.

50. Tom Brady

  • Total Earnings: $45.2 Million
  • Sports: Football

In a sudden move that sent shockwaves through the football world, Tom Brady left the New England Patriots in 2020 to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Demonstrating his exceptional prowess, he went on to secure his seventh Super Bowl victory with his new team.

After a remarkable season with Tampa Bay, Brady surprised fans by announcing his retirement in February 2022. However, just six weeks later, he had a change of heart and decided to return to the field. Unfortunately, this comeback proved to be short-lived as he ultimately retired for good in February 2023.

During his time off the field, Brady utilized his entrepreneurial spirit, launching the successful TB12 lifestyle brand and co-founding Autograph, an NFT company that garnered an impressive $170 million in a Series B funding round announced in January 2022.

Not just content with his football career, Brady ventured into the entertainment industry by establishing 199 Productions in 2020. The name pays tribute to his NFL draft selection number, 199, back in 2000. Through this venture, Brady aimed to develop captivating documentaries, films, and TV shows. Brady’s post-retirement plans are already taking shape as he is set to embark on a lucrative new role as a commentator with Fox Sports. His football expertise and charisma are sure to make him a valuable addition to the sports broadcasting team.

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While it was interesting to see the richest athletes in the world, there is more to this story. We can learn a lot from these self-made individuals, as all of them are self-made individuals who have made huge fortune and paved a way to success!

Source: Forbes’ List of World’s Highest-Paid Athletes

Peter Benson
Peter Benson is an experienced business writer covering all aspects of entrepreneurship, marketing, finance, and management. He is a skilled researcher and takes pride in providing accurate and up-to-date information in his writing. In addition to his writing work, Peter is an avid reader and enjoys staying up-to-date with the latest business news and trends.

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