2020 has been a wild year. We’ve all faced off against immeasurable challenges we assumed we wouldn’t need to contend with. It has caused us huge issues in terms of our mental health and our physical health. Financially, too, many of us are feeling the pinch. At the top of the sporting pyramid, though, it would be safe to say that the concerns being felt by the majority aren’t quite shared by the top names in the sporting world.
Not sure if that’s the case? Here’s a list of the sixty highest paid athletes in 2020.
French football star Antoine Griezmann ranks pretty high up on the list of sports stars with high earnings in 2016. He was reported to have brought in something in the region of $26m in earrings, with endorsements of some $5.5m and salary earnings of over $21.m.
As one of the most expensive players in modern soccer, Griezmann has been noted as much for his controversial celebrations and his high profile transfers as much as his impact on his national team, France, winning the 2018 FIFA World Cup with his help.
If you follow basketball, then you will know who the loveable Philadelphia 76ers C is. He’s one of the most bombastic Centres in the entire sport, and has become a prime example of a two-way player who can make it big at either end of the court.
However, his impressive $26.7m combined earnings and endorsements puts the Cameroonian second on our list. He’s a huge personality, and could play a key role in the future of the 76ers as they look to rebrand and rebuild; will a key piece of “The Process” stick around?
With some $26.8m in earnings in 2020 alone, NFL star Arik Armstead is a fine example of what a player can earn with the right approach to their sport. A quality player known for his outstanding professional profile and his excellence both on and off the field, Armstead has built a wonderful career fo himself as one of the leading names in the NFL.
He’s become a key part of the San Francisco 49ers, and expect him to keep moving up this list; he only signed a five-year, $85m deal with the 49ers earlier on in 2020!
You may be shocked that a player who just finished their half-injured rookie season is ranking so high on our list. With a salary of some $7.3m, too, Zion Williamson of the New Orleans Pelicans in the NBA is the first player on our list to have endorsements ahead of their actual playing income.
Despite being one of the most exciting names in the NBA today, the youngster still has much to grow and improve upon. That should be a scary thought given his already vast earning potential; just how good can this Power Forward become?
In contrast to Mr. Williamson, baseball star Clayton Kershaw brought in just $0.75m in endorsement deals. The low profile star, though, is well loved by his team and his fans. Indeed, he’s the owner of a whopping $26.5m in earnings from his contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He signed a three-year, $93m deal back then and could take on a contract that lasts until 2021.
He’s a major player for the team, and played a role in their development into a title contender, pairing up with the Los Angeles Lakers NBA Championship victory.
The Brazilian midfielder might not be a name that many fans recognize now, having fallen from the public eye after a move to China. Currently playing for Shanghai SIPG, the Brazilian brings in a cool $25.8m per year in wages, plus over $1.5m in endorsement deals. This brings his total 2020 earnings up to around $27.5m, putting him ever-higher up our list of stars who are earning pretty princely sums of money.
While not everyone sees Oscar play anymore having moved on from Chelsea in acrimonious circumstances, the Brazilian international is still making huge sums of money.
Seen as the ‘nice guy’ alternative to the divisive Kyrie Irving, the arrival of Kemba Walker in Boston with the Boston Celtics in 2019 changed everything. Though knee issues would see the Point Guard miss out for Boston at their best in the play-offs, Walker was noted as having a huge impact on squad camaraderie, general mind-set, and mood moving forward.
He also brought in a highly impressive $27.6m in earnings, with some $3m coming from endorsements. See, it does pay to be a nice guy! Walker is on a long-term deal in Boston.
The golfing extraordinaire has become noted for his ability to rack up wins and trophies at a rate that many would never expected. Though 2020 has hit the golfing calendar hard, meaning Spieth brought in just $1.6m in prize money, we’re sure his $26m worth of endorsement deals might have helped to ease the blow.
With golf slowly but surely returning to some normality after a horrid year with call-offs and cancellations, though, the expectation is that Spieth, an outstanding golfer, might move ever-higher up earnings lists for the many years to come in his career.
Now a member of the Charlotte Hornets, Gordon Hayward signed with the Boston Celtics in 2017 on a three-year max deal. Earning some $27.6m in 2020, Hayward enjoyed his most productive spell in green after missing the majority of his first two seasons due to a freak leg injury.
The Forward has since joined Charlotte, helping him to push his earnings even higher as the year progresses. A four-year, $120m contract was put in front of Hayward and he chose that over an extension with the Celtics. Expect him to earn more in the coming years.
The Miami Heat’s own firebrand superstar Jimmy Butler has enjoyed a great year. Having finally played in an NBA Finals (albeit a loss), Butler has achieved a dream from childhood. He’s also earning plenty of money, and not just from his hilarious and brilliant Big Face Coffee company that he set up during the NBA bubble!
Butler is a bonafide superstar, and easily one of the most exciting names in NBA today. With some $27.6m earned in 2020, the Miami Heat’s key player could see himself earning even more in the coming years if Miami keep up their hot streak.
Loved or maligned depending on who you support, Paul Pogba is one of the most unique players in soccer. Built like a basketball player with the engine of an ankle biter and the vision of a maestro, Pogba can be the complete package when he is involved in the game enough.
With a World Cup in his trophy cabinet and some $28.5m earned in 2020, though, it would be fair to say that Pogba has likely already met and matched the dreams he would have had as a kid. Expect Pogba to feature more if a move from Manchester United takes place in 2021.
Combative and creative, Kyle Lowry is one of the best Point Guards in the NBA. Lowry has become a face of the Toronto Raptors, a franchise which has put itself in the perfect position of being a home for ‘bad boys’ who want reformed.
Having played a key role in a championship win in 2019, Lowry followed it up with an excellent individual and team season as well as a whopping $28.5m in earnings, with $27m of this coming from his contract salary.
As the flagship face of the end of the Arsene Wenger era, the fact that German playmaker Mesut Ozil plays so little is a mystery. Massive wages, with a contract expiring in 2021, means that this might be the last time we see a World Cup winner in Ozil appear on this list.
Earning something in the region of $28.7m with Arsenal and his endorsement deals, Ozil was for many a face of the changing of football in the 2010s. A playmaker with immense vision and craft, he’s certainly done well for himself.
An F1 driver of some repute, Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo ranks high on our list this year. He’s brought in some $27m in salary this year, proving himself to be one of the highest paid names in the sport of F1. $2m of endorsements took him to around $29m.
While some find his combustible personality to be hard to fall in love with, few would doubt that the Aussie earns his money when he is on the circuit. A top quality racer with the potential to move even higher up our list should he keep progressing and developing his obvious racing potential.
NFL superstar Matt Ryan has enjoyed a wonderful career so far, as his $29.5 annual earnings show us. A major face in the NFL, he became the first player in league history to earn an average annual wage of $30m from his team. This was part of a five-year, $150m deal signed in 2018.
He’s been a major part of the Atlanta Falcons growth into a major NFL contender, with an appearance in the Super Bowl in 2016 thanks in part to the excellent efforts of this all-around NFL talent.
The Spaniard might no longer be close to his peak, but it would be fair to say that Andres Iniesta still knows how to draw a crowd. The Spaniard has become one of the leading names in football, culminating with his goal to win the 2020 FIFA World Cup for his nation, Spain.
A legend of the game, he now plays his football in Japan and earned $29.6m in earnings across 2020 with just $3m coming from endorsements. When Iniesta left for Japan, many doubted if it would be a success. Well, this proves otherwise.
As a major part of the Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rodgers has become a face for the NFL side. He’s also one of the highest earners in the sport, with some $30.1m in earnings with $9m in endorsements alone. An interesting and illuminating character, he has played a major role in helping his franchise retain their position as a potential candidate for the NFL itself.
Definitely one of the more colourful characters in the game, and one of the most interesting personalities both in his style of play and his mannerisms away from the NFL.
‘AD’ has become one of the faces of modern basketball, with his outstanding court presence matched by his earning power. The Lakers star brought in $10m in endorsements followed by $20.4m in earnings, making him one of the best earners in the NBA.
As a new champion having won the NBA with the LA Lakers, it would be fair to say that Davis has many years of earning ahead of him. Expect this central part of the Lakers revival to stay at the very top of the earning power in the NBA now he’s in his peak years.
As one of the faces of the upmarket Los Angeles Clippers team, Leonard leads the ‘other’ side of Los Angele’s basketball division. Bringing in $30.5m in earnings, with some $25m in salary from his Clippers contract, Leonard is one of the most valuable names in the sport today.
An outstanding all-around player wit an eye for the creative touch, expect Leonard to keep rising higher in the salary standings as he becomes a key part of either the Clippers or another franchise that intends to compete not in the future, but now.
Though John Wall has missed much of the last two seasons of NBA through injury, his move to the Houston Rockets could see him reignited. All reports suggest that rehab has gone well, and Wall might be ready to return to the court to contribute once again.
As one of the Rockets highest earners, Wall brought in over $31m in earnings, with some $28.7m paid out by his massive contract with the Washington Wizards. Now playing alongside other NBA star names in James Harden and co. we could see Wall really earn those dollars this year.
A key name in the Detroit Pistons recent history, Blake Griffin is a player who brings a lot of intrigue to the table. With some $6m in endorsement deals allied to a $25.9m contract, too, it would be fair to say that Griffin is a man with plenty of admirers.
His exciting personality and excellent on-the-court vision makes him the perfect addition to any team that is serious about becoming a genuine NBA contender in the years to come. Definitely one of the best earners in the league for a reason: consistency and quality.
Tennis has a habit of producing talents who almost become brands unto themselves, and Kei Nishikori is no different. He’s become a huge name in Japan, and was set to be a major face of the postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Having worked with major partners including Jaguar, NTT, Lixil, and Procter and Gamble, it is safe to say that he is one of the most well-endorsed names in the sport.
2020 may only have brought $1.1m in earning for this Grand Slam winner, but his $31m of endorsement deals means that Nishikori is massive.
NFL superstar Michael Thomas has become a name so large that even many non-NFL fans will know who he is. Few players in the sport can carry the same level of personality and professionalism as this star. Indeed, there is a reason that his team, the New Orleans Saints, are paying him in the region of $31.6m in salary earnings.
With just under $1m in endorsements, too, it would be fair to say that Thomas has become one of the leading names in the NFL outside of the very elite of the sport. A truly outstanding football player.
If you thought that the earnings of Kawhi Leonard were large, his LA Clippers colleague Paul George earns even more. His $8m in endorsement deals go a long way to evening up the earning potential, though, with his $24.8m contract with the Clippers making up slightly less of his salary.
Still, with a great future in the game as well as a world class present, fans should get used to seeing George at the very top of the NBA. Even if he does not re-sign with the Clippers, expect him to get an even better deal elsewhere.
With a whopping $33m per annum salary, Grady Jarrett is increasingly one of the highest paid players in the NFL just on salary alone. His $0.5m of endorsements might not seem much, but when paired up with his massive take-home salary it is easy to see why many view Jarrett as a mover and shaker in the sports finance world.
The Atlanta Falcons star is currently in the middle of a four-year contract with his team, having signed a $68m deal with the team including a massive $18m signing bonus.
Few footballers in the world achieve what Kylian Mbappe did at the age of 20. A starring role in his country winning the 2018 FIFA World Cup also seen Mbappe take his club side, Paris Saint-Germain, all the way to the UEFA Champions League Final for the first time.
This backs up his massive career earnings of $20.8m per year as well as endorsement deals that rise to as much as $13m. Just at the beginning of his career, too, there is nothing to say that Mbappe won’t rise even higher on this list in future.
CP3 might be getting on in years, but his quality has not dipped even an inch. The world class playmaker has become a key face of each franchise he has played for, and now has moved from Oklahoma to move to Phoenix, where he will play a key role as their lead guard in an upwardly mobile and exciting young team.
The Suns have also seen fit to continue his whopping $29m/year contract. Paired up with $6m in endorsement deals, and it’s easy to see that CP3 is going to be sticking around for a while yet.
As the face of Northern African sports, Mohamed Salah is an idol outside of his native Egypt. With earnings that top $35m, too, including a $23.1/year contract with Liverpool FC, Salah is a player who earns his money.
The Egyptian is one of the fastest to 100 goals in red, and also the all-time top goalscorer for Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League. A legendary player in African football circles, Salah could realistically push Liverpool to the contention stage for every major title as long as he remains on Merseyside. Expect the ‘Egyptian King’ to continue rising on these lists as his fame spreads further.
Few sports stars in the world have done more for their cause and their sport than Serena Williams. Alongside her sister Venus, Serena has played a huge role in making tennis a much more unified sport in terms of female and male prize money.
Her career earnings in 2020 might be just $4m for the year, but her whopping $32m in various sponsorship and endorsement deals shows you the brand power of the legend herself. Easily one of the most important sports stars of the last two decades, and her earning power highlights that.
Motorsport can be a deeply competitive place, and few show that off more than Sebastian Vettel. The German presently drives for the Ferrari racing giant, but he has earned his name in the sport through numerous world titles when at Red Bull.
Capable of earning $36m in a year, Vettel brings in just $0.3m in endorsement deals. A quite and understated athlete, the German tends to allow his racing to do the talking for him as he continues to fight and push for legendary status.
The face and the heart of the Portland Trail Blazers, it would be fair to say that Damien Lillard is a superstar. He is the main reason why the Blazers have an exciting future, and has been a key draw for other stars to move to the city in recent times.
Earning $22.5m from his contract with Portland, Lillard also uses his mass commercial appeal to draw in as much as $14.5m in endorsements. This means he walks away with something in the region of $37m for 2020. Not bad for a player on a lower-ranked team, right?
Surprisingly the first boxer to make our list, Mexican boxing legend Canelo Alvarez is one of the best in the business. A lethal puncher and one of the best movers in the ring, too, few boxers in the world could contend with him. That’s why it makes little surprise to find out that Alvarez is one of the best-earning athletes of 2020, with some $37m in career earnings for the year.
In a year that has seen many other sports utterly destroyed or disrupted, Alvarez has managed the year as well as he manages a title fight.
Tennis has a habit of producing young stars who explode into prominence, and Japanese superstar Naomi Osaka is no different. The young star became well recognized early on in her career for her unique style of player and her court maturity that far exceeded her years on the planet.
However, Osaka has become a premium name within the sport and despite bringing in just $3.4m in winnings in a curtailed 2020 season, she managed to earn as much as $34m in endorsement deals. Her brand, then, is absolutely skyrocketing.
As one half of the famous Splash Brothers, Klay Thompson has endured a rough 2020. He suffered a serious injury that ended his season, and then suffered the same injury in his other leg shortly after returning. This means he won’t play in the 2021 season, either.
Still, we are sure that Klay will console himself with a whopping $24.8m NBA contract and an impressive $14m in endorsement deals. Few players seem to be as down-to-earth and as friendly as Klay, too, so we wish him all the best in his recovery long-term.
Tennis has a habit of producing big names who stick around for a long time, too. For every newcomer to the sport like Osaka, we have names like Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard is among the most decorated tennis players of all-time, and has built a career on being able to simply win and win big.
$14m in seasonal earnings is impressive, but it is his impressive $26m in endorsement deals in 2020 that brings Nadal to be our first person on the list to break the $40m annual earnings mark. A true legend of his sport, Nadal has done more than most to stay at the top.
NFL has a habit of producing players who can feel almost eternally in-form, and Julio Jones is a fine example. There is a reason, after all, he holds a massive $37.5/year contract with the Falcons. Add on top of that his impressive $3m in endorsement deals, and Jones has set himself up as one of the most well-off players in the sport for years to come.
And with many years left in the tank, expect Jones to keep on staying high in sports earning lists.
Golf often produces very wealthy stars for those who can stick around the top, and Phil Mickelson is a fine example. The golfer might only have brought in $800,000 in career earnings in 2020, but he also brought in over $40m in endorsement and sponsorship deals.
This puts him up there with some of the highest earning stars in the world, and further cements his position as a player of immense worth. So long as Mickelson can continue to shine on the green, too, those numbers aren’t likely to start coming down anytime soon.
Genius should often be rewarded, and there is no doubt that Kyrie Irving is a genius. He was a key player in the Cleveland Cavaliers side that won the 2016 NBA Championship. He was also a key name in the Boston Celtics teams that pushed for an NBA Finals place. Though he is now residing in Brooklyn with the Nets, Irving has shown beyond all doubt that he has the star power to thrive.
That’s why he has earned over $41.9m in earnings in 2020, both from his $18m endorsement deals and his $23.9m salary.
The Serbian might have caused controversy with his slightly-too-soon post-COVID tournament, but 2020 has been a good year for the tennis legend. Some $12.6m in seasonal earnings puts him ahead of most of the chasing pack, while his $32m in endorsement deals means that Djokovic has very little to worry about heading into 2021.
In fine form when tennis can be played, there is no doubt that an already successful year for Djokovic could be followed up by an even better year in 2021. The Serb still has all his ability, so expect him to keep on earning.
NFL star Drew Brees has become another major earner, with his long-term deal bringing him some $29.8m for the year of 2020. Brees, though, has also done well to cultivate an image of an erudite, informed, and friendly professional. That’s why endorsement deals that can top $15m should not surprise anyone.
This is an elite player with a fantastic personality on and off the pitch. A top class athlete with the mannerisms that make him a magnet for a company; there’s a reason Drew Brees earned almost $45m in the year of 2020!
Though the eternal Tom Brady might be slowly but surely reaching the end of his career, that means nothing to his earning power. Indeed, he was able to pull in a cool $45m in earnings this year, with a $33m contract and $12m in endorsement deals putting him pretty high up on the list of top paid athletes.
Though rivals of Brady have been hoping each season would be his last for a long time, his eternal approach to the game and his effortless playing quality means that, for most, Brady is untouchable.
While the American juggernaut eventually was stopped by Tyson Fury in the most convincing fashion, it would be hard to say that Deontay Wilder has had a tough year. After all, he managed to bring in over $46m in career earnings for the year!
Following his titanic clash with Fury in February, Wilder left the world stunned when he lost in such convincing fashion. With a third fight no doubt planned for the future, though, we should expect to see Wilder continue to fly high on earnings lists; the heavyweight is, after all, a true box office talent.
While he might not have had quite the same year as the likes of Tyson Fury in terms of massive title wins, Anthony Joshua has more than held his own this year. Indeed, he’s brought in over $36m just in boxing income, making him one of the highest earning athletes in the UK.
Add in a stunning $11m in endorsement deals on top of that, and AJ is one of the first sports stars on our list to exceed the $45m mark, hitting around $47m in total earnings for the year of 2020. Not bad, right?
Otherwise known as ‘The Greek Freak’, the Milwaukee Bucks’ franchise player is easily one of the biggest names in sport. And while he has brought in a cool $19.6m in earnings from NBA contracts, it’s the $28m that he has brought in from endorsement deals that should make you shocked. He’s arguably the biggest European name to ever play in basketball.
Add in the fact that he might likely sign a ‘supermax’ extension with Milwaukee, and you should expect to see Giannis moving higher and higher up these kinds of lists for years to come.
As one of the most successful scorers of all-time in the NBA, James Harden has a legion of fans. You don’t even need to follow the Houston Rockets to know that Harden is one of the best players in modern NBA history. With $28.8m in salary earnings and $19m in endorsements, then, Harden makes some $47.8m for the year.
And it could have been more, too, had Harden accepted the hefty $50m/year contract that Houston put in front of him that he has since rejected. Easily one of the most exciting potential transfers in modern sports, too, with an exit from Houston appearing more and more likely.
Though retired for about the fifteenth time in his career, Conor McGregor is now more of a fighting brand than he is an actual fighter. He’s made over $32m in the year 2020 despite the lack of real action, and has brought in over $16m in endorsements.
He’s also an entrepreneur and brings in a fair amount of money through the various other businesses and brands that he is associated with. Far from a wisecracking fighter, McGregor has proven himself to be more than just a pair of knuckles.
As one of the highest paid names in the NFL, many will be aware of Jared Goff for his earning power alone. Indeed, he makes $49m across the whole year of 2020 thanks to his ties bringing in $2m earning power from sponsorships and endorsements.
However, it is his $47m contract that makes him one of the most interesting players in the NFL. Few players can match his massive earning power, making him a player who both brings it on the park and earns it. Locked in to a long-term deal with the Los Angeles Rams.
As one of the most talented golfers of his (or any) generation, McIlroy is the pride of Northern Ireland. Sports fans all around the world appreciate his candor and his quality, but also his earning power. At $30m in endorsements and $22m in prize money earnings in the year, McIlroy earned over $50m this year from his efforts.
Indeed, he’s brought in a huge sum of money through continuing to perform even when many other golfers have found it hard to stay focused during what has been an increasingly challenging year.
As the most decorated name in F1 racing now, Lewis Hamilton has enjoyed a wonderful year. The British driver has brought in $12m in endorsement deals, but it was the $42m/year that he earned in F1 that made him such a hugely impressive individual this year.
Having finally become the all-time leader for championships, too, Hamilton has a trophy cabinet to go along with his decorated driving record. While some find his personality polarizing, it would be impossible to not admire his immense competitive spirit and his desire to continually find improvements to his game.
While Russell Westbrook might no longer be the star he was once, he’s one of the most well-respected names in the NBA. A truly elite player at his peak, Westbrook still knows how to earn with some $56m in earnings for 2020. He is also one of our more balanced earners, with a $29m salary from the Houston Rockets (now the Washington Wizards) balanced out with a hugely impressive $27m in endorsement earnings.
Westbrook might not be the title winner many thought he would evolve into, but his legacy in the game is properly secure.
As the most colorful character in modern boxing, Tyson Fury brings a bit of the old-school charm to the ring. His $50m in earnings for the year, too, was truly impressive. Add in some $7m in endorsement deals, and this has been the most successful year of the Gypsy Kings wildly impressive fighting career.
Though many fights have been delayed this year, it was the flagship stopping of Wilder that made Fury the sporting legend that he now is. So long as he continues to fight with the same style, expect Fury to keep on earning well.
Carson Wentz might not be the most immediately recognizable name, but a $55.1m salary from his NFL team, the Philadelphia Eagles, demands respect. Wentz is one of the most well-earning players in league history, with an impressive $4m in combined endorsement deals also helping him to keep on growing.
Wentz has many years left at the top, too, with his selection in the 2016 NFL Draft ensuring that he has the chance to keep growing. Indeed, he was picked after Jared Goff, making two of the highest earners on our list quarterbacks from the same draft class.
Even if you know very little about NFL, it would not take you long to find out that Kirk Cousins is an interesting individual. With a large-scale contract signed with the Minnesota Vikings, too, he was the highest paid player in the NFL from 2019 until June 2020. He’s a legend with the Redskins, spending six years with the team, before getting a fully guaranteed $84m deal when he moved to the Vikings.
With $58m from his NFL contract, the often quiet Cousins uses his clout to earn a further $2.5m in endorsement deals.
Though long since seen as a player on decline, Tiger Woods has enjoyed a unique resurgence in recent years. This has helped him to earn massively this year, with a whopping $60m in endorsement deals along. This matches up with an impressive enough $2.3m in golf salary and winnings; given the disrupted nature of golf this year, this shows that Woods still holds the quality with the right club.
Woods has been one of the most well-respected names in the sporting world for years, and his return to form in recent years has been a great boon for the sport.
As one of the most technically gifted basketball players in history, Kevin Durant has long been seen as a basketball legend. His play with the Golden State Warriors was always impressive, but his new project in Brooklyn is one that excites fans more than most.
A $28.9m deal with the Brooklyn Nets gives Durant immense earning power, but it his $35m in endorsement deals that ensures KD stays towards the top of the NBA earning pyramid. Now fully recovered from his injuries, can KD get back to his best?
As the best three-point shooter of all-time and the other half of the Splash Brothers, Steph Curry is an NBA legend. He is the most prolific shooter from three-point range in history, and this has played a huge role in his immense marketability.
This means that his impressive $30.4m earnings from the Warriors in 2020 alone is backed up by his massive $44m in endorsements. Everyone wants a piece of a player who has been the modern face of the NBA, and a key part of the revolution turning basketball into a three-point sport.
As the ‘modern Michael Jordan’, LeBron James is the biggest name in the whole of the NBA. He might be reahing the end of his career, but a vintage season just seen LeBron and the Los Angeles Lakers win their first NBA title in a decade. He’s only been with team for two years!
In the year of 2020, though, he has brought in some $88m in earnings. A $28.2m contract with the Lakers is one thing, but LeBron also brought in $60m in endorsement earnings. Who wouldn’t want to be associated with the King, anyway?
The Brazilian is well en route to becoming the highest scorer of all-time for the Brazilian national team. For any soccer fan, you will know just big a deal that is.
The Paris Saint-Germain superstar is just entering his peak years, and will be expected to go even further both on and off the pitch in the next few years. This year, he brought in $70.5m in salary from Paris Saint-Germain alone, whilst also earning $25m in sponsorship and endorsement deals.
While some find his abrasive style grating, nobody can doubt Neymar’s football genius.
As arguably the best footballer of all-time, Lionel Messi has made good on his immense brand power as ‘the new Maradona’. With $72m in earnings from Barcelona this year, Messi topped this up with a $32m endorsement package from some of the biggest brands in the world.
A legendary player with an eye for a goal and a pass, few players in history – if any – have matched Messi for consistency, quality, and the ability to play on the biggest stage. Should he ever conquer the FIFA World Cup hurdle, his earning power would reach incredible new heights.
As the natural ‘opponent’ of Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo has built a career on being everything Messi isn’t. They share totally different technical, tactical, and physical attributes. Both, though, are two of the finest of all-time. While Ronaldo earns $60m from his career at Juventus in Italy, he also brings in a huge $45m to make sure that he earns a cool $105m. This puts him just ahead of his Argentine rival.
For both players, though, the endorsements and fame comes purely as a result of their hard work, success, and commitment both on and off the pitch.
You might be surprised to see Roger Federer at number one, but should you be?
After all, nobody in sport has matched his longevity. Federer was winning Grand Slam events before the Andy Murrays and Rafael Nadal’s of the world arrived on the scene. With $6.3m in career earnings this year, Federer follows that up with a barely believable $100m in endorsement deals.
At the same time, though, who wouldn’t want their company to be associated with the most clean-living, controversy-avoiding star in the entire sporting world? His longevity as much as his luxurious and natural style play a huge role in ensuring that Roger Federer is viewed worldwide as a true legend of the game.