The Best-Paid Athletes in the World

Although 2018 wasn't the best year for Messi, Ronaldo or Neymar that didn't stop them from receiving the biggest paychecks that season. Which athletes receive the highest salaries?
The Best-Paid Athletes in the World

Last update: 29 August, 2019

Aside from having the privilege of taking part in a world that they love, the best athletes also enjoy salaries that go above and beyond the earnings of the average person. In our post today, let’s look at the best-paid athletes in the world.

Thanks to the explosion of marketing, new communication platforms, and globalization, many athletes are earning paychecks that years ago, they could only dream about. As a result, sports stars have multiplied their earnings.

In some cases, certain athletes are actually earning so much, that it seems impossible to believe. But, on the other side of the coin, they do make an incredible sacrifice in order to earn what they do.

But despite the fact that we’re talking about world-famous athletes, you’ll have a hard time believing the numbers below.

The top five best-paid athletes in the whole world

Internationally respected and experts in finance and business, Forbes magazine published a list of the highest-paid athletes in the world. In the first spots are:

1. Lionel Messi: one of the highest-paid athletes

The FC Barcelona player earned 127 million dollars in 2018; yes, in just 12 months! The figure includes his salary, prizes for sporting achievements– both of which add up to 92 million– and advertisement earnings. Today, advertising represents a high percentage of the earnings of many star athletes.

2. Cristiano Ronaldo

The Portuguese forward doesn’t trail too far behind: last year, he earned 109 million dollars. Not surprisingly, his salary and prizes make up a fair portion of his total earnings. However, CR7 also earns a substantial amount in advertisements. He earned 44 million by selling his image to famous international brands.

best paid athlete ronaldo

3. Neymar

The third spot goes to yet another soccer star who, like Messi, hails from South America. Neymar Da Silva Santos Junior, who is just 27 years old, added 105 million dollars to his personal accounts last year.

This sends a clear message about the economic power that soccer holds. The game generously awards its biggest players. And, this exceptional forward can’t be left out of the picture.

best paid athlete neymar

4. “Canelo” Alvarez: one of the highest-paid boxing stars

Following the top-3 spots which are occupied by soccer stars, this Mexican boxer comes fourth. Alvarez tucked away 94 million dollars in 2018; his best season. Saul Alvarez, more popularly known as “Canelo”, earned 92 million in salary and prizes as well as another 2 million by sponsors.

best paid athlete alvarez

5. Roger Federer

Many people consider Federer to be the best tennis player in history. He occupies the fifth spot in this ranking with a total of 86 million dollars earned in 2018. Not surprisingly, his tournament prizes compose a large part of his earnings— a 7.4-million chunk to be exact. But, he also earns a large amount through advertisements.

He’s not only the athlete with the highest personal revenue in 2018, but he also surpassed Ronaldo, who is number two on this list, with 86 million dollars earned through advertising.

best paid athlete federer

The top 10 best-paid athletes

Meanwhile, the rest of the athletes making up the top-10 list are the following:

  • Russell Wilson: the NFL player takes the sixth spot with 89.5 million dollars.
  • Aaron Rogers: in seventh place, another NFL player makes his mark with 89.3 million dollars earned in 2018.
  • LeBron James: this NBA star earned 89 million dollars in the last season. More than half of his earnings– 53 million– came from sponsors.
  • Stephen Curry: another basketball star on the top-10 list. In 2018, he added 79.8 million dollars to his personal accounts.
  • Kevin Durant: he seals the top-10 list with earnings of “just” 65.4 million dollars.

Female athletes and the future ahead

We want to end our post by drawing attention to the reality that no women have made the top-10 list. Equally, they barely make the top-100 list of the best-paid athletes.

best paid athlete women

Tennis star Serena Williams, who occupies spot number sixty-three, is the only female athlete on the list. Hands down, it’s unsettling to those who strive for more gender-equality in a sector that’s historically male-dominated.

In any case, the numbers are real, regardless of how far-fetched they might seem. But, these athletes do make contributions to charitable organizations and have even created their own to help those most in need. Their generous actions only make them more admirable.

Considering the massive growth in almost every sport as well as the increasing spending habits on marketing and advertising, these fat paychecks will likely only increase with time. Do you think these sports stars deserve them?

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.