The 100 Highest Paid Athletes in the World


Around the world, sport is easily one of the most popular hobbies amongst people from all different backgrounds.

With that kind of popularity, there is a huge amount of money available to the top performers, and Forbes' recent research showed us all just how much (spoiler alert - it's a lot).

Without any further ado, here are the 100 highest paid athletes in the world.

100) Virat Kohli

South Africa v India - Test Match Series - Day One
South Africa v India - Test Match Series - Day One / Gallo Images/GettyImages

Sport: Cricket

Earnings: $25m

India captain Virat Kohli swept up at the ICC awards, establishing himself as one of the finest cricketers around.

99) Mohamed Salah


Sport: Football

Earnings: $25.1m

After establishing himself as one of the world's finest in the 2017/18 season, Mohamed Salah carried his impressive form over into the last campaign.

The Liverpool star earned himself a bumper new contract last summer, and he repaid the club by steering them to Champions League glory against Tottenham Hotspur.

He also finished as joint-top goalscorer in the Premier League, in what was a hugely successful year for the Egypt international.

98) Marc Gasol

Sport: Basketball

Earnings: $25.1m

As part of the newly-crowned NBA champions, Toronto Raptors star Marc Gasol cemented his place as one of the NBA's finest big men with another impressive season.

97) Jon Lester

Sport: Baseball

Earnings: $25.3m

Chicago Cubs pitcher Jon Lester led the league in wins in 2018, racking up an impressive 18 throughout the year.

96) Joey Votto

Sport: Baseball

Earnings: $25.4m

MLB all-star Joey Votto enjoyed another fantastic season with the Cincinnati Reds, and his $25m-a-year contract will likely see him remain on this list for years to come.

95) Gennady Golovkin

Sport: Boxing

Earnings: $25.5m

Gennady Golovkin's huge deal with DAZN helps force his way onto this list, despite tasting defeat for the first time in his career in blockbuster fight with Canelo Alvarez.

94) J.D. Martinez

Sport: Baseball

Earnings: $25.6m

J.D. Martinez was instrumental in guiding the Boston Red Sox to the World Series last season, racking up plenty of prize money to compliment his sizeable salary.

93) Saquon Barkley

Sport: American Football

Earnings: $25.8m

After his record-breaking rookie season, New York Giants starlet Saquon Barkley enjoyed a historic season, bagging himself lucrative sponsorship deals with the likes of Pepsi and Toyota.

92) Manny Pacquiao

Sport: Boxing

Earnings: $26m

WBA world welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao successfully took on Lucas Matthysse and Adrien Broner last year, selling 400,000 pay-per-view buys for his victory over the latter in January.

91) Andrew Wiggins

Sport: Basketball

Earnings: $26.1m

Andrew Wiggins' mammoth contract extension has attracted plenty of criticism, and the Minnesota Timberwolves will certainly be eager to see the former NBA Rookie of the Year push on next season.

90) Hassan Whiteside

Sport: Basketball

Earnings: $26.2m

Powerful Miami Heat centre Hassan Whiteside enjoyed another impressive season, and the defensive specialist has one year remaining on his bumper deal in Miami.

89) Nikola Jokic

Sport: Basketball

Earnings: $26.2m

Nikola Jokic enjoyed a breakout season with the Denver Nuggets, showcasing his immense passing and shot-making skills as his team proved to be one of the most promising in the league.

88) Harrison Barnes

Sport: Basketball

Earnings: $26.3m

Harrison Barnes netted an impressive bonus in his trade from the Dallas Mavericks to the Sacramento Kings, where he is under contract for just one more year.

87) Andre Drummond

Sport: Basketball

Earnings: $26.4m

As one of the NBA's finest rebounders, Detroit Pistons star Andre Drummond continues to prove his value in the league. Breaking numerous defensive records, Drummond remains one of the world's finest in his position.

86) Otto Porter Jr

Sport: Basketball

Earnings: $26.5m

We may not have seen the best of Otto Porter Jr in Washington but, after his trade to the Chicago Bulls, he proved exactly why he was once so highly rated.

85) Odell Beckham Jr

Sport: American Football

Earnings: $26.5m

As one of the world's most popular sportsmen, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr signed a huge extension with the New York Giants last summer, before being traded to the Cleveland Browns in March.

84) Felix Hernandez

Sport: Baseball

Earnings: $26.6m

Felix Hernandez's huge $175m extension with the Seattle Mariners still sees 'King Felix' earn his place on this list, even if injuries have slowed him down in recent seasons.

83) C.J. Mosley

Sport: American Football

Earnings: $26.9m

C.J. Mosley earned himself a huge deal with the New York Jets in March, which makes him one of the NFL's highest-earning linebackers.

82) Andrew Luck

Sport: American Football

Earnings: $26.9m

Working with the likes of Nike, DirecTV and BodyArmor, Indianapolis Colts star Andrew Luck continues to be one of the NFL's top stars and made an incredible return from a serious shoulder injury last season.

81) Tom Brady

Sport: American Football

Earnings: $27m

Whilst Tom Brady's bargain salary with the New England Patriots is not nearly enough to earn him a place on this list alone, the Super Bowl champion's sponsorship deals and work away from the field give his earnings a a sizeable boost.

80) Bradley Beal

Sport: Basketball

Earnings: $27.1m

Bradley Beal enjoyed a stunning individual season with the Washington Wizards, and the shooting guard certainly proved just why he has such a lucrative deal with Nike.

79) Gareth Bale


Sport: Football

Earnings: $27.1m

Thanks to his contract extension in 2016, Real Madrid winger Gareth Bale is one of the best-paid footballers in Europe. The Welshman was the hero of Los Blancos' 2017/18 Champions League success.

Zinedine Zidane's return to the Santiago Bernabeu, coupled with a string of injuries, however, saw Bale fall down the pecking order at Real towards the end of last season, and he has been heavily linked with a move away from the club recently.

He will almost certainly remain as one of Europe's highest earners, but the question is - who will be paying him next season?

78) Steven Adams

Sport: Basketball

Earnings: $27.2m

Soon to enter the third year of his $100m deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Steven Adams brings an incredible level of passion and determination to his team, and the 25-year-old is easily one of the NBA's finest rebounders.

77) Giancarlo Stanton

Sport: Baseball

Earnings: $27.4m

Giancarlo Stanton's record-breaking $325m contract will continue to make the powerful outfielder one of the word's top owners for years to come, and he will be eager to build on an impressive debut season with the New York Yankees.

76) Jrue Holiday

Sport: Basketball

Earnings: $27.6m

After establishing himself as one of the NBA's finest point guards, Jrue Holiday continues to reap the financial rewards of his huge contract extension with the New Orleans Pelicans.

75) Antoine Griezmann


Sport: Football

Earnings: $27.7m

Antoine Griezmann is widely viewed as one of Europe's finest forwards, and Atletico Madrid pay him as such. However, not for long.

The World Cup winner has already confirmed his departure from the Wanda Metropolitano, and has been tipped to make a monumental switch to either Barcelona or Paris Saint-Germain.

If a move to either goes through, Griezmann stands to earn even more next year, so he could soon see his name fly up this list.

74) Dwight Howard

Minnesota Timberwolves v Houston Rockets
Minnesota Timberwolves v Houston Rockets / Miguel Tovar/GettyImages

Sport: Basketball

Earnings: $27.8m

The vast majority of Dwight Howard's earnings last year came from the Brookyln Nets, who immediately waived the 33-year-old when they traded for him in 2018. He received $19m last season, on top of his new contract with the Wizards.

73) Albert Pujols

Sport: Baseball

Earnings: $28m

Albert Pujols' deal with the Los Angeles Angels sees him back more money with each passing year, so expect to see his name climb up this list as his salary nears the $30m mark.

72) Justin Houston

Sport: American Football

Earnings: $28.2m

After joining the Indianapolis Colts in March, linebacker Justin Houston became one of the NFL's highest earners in his position, whilst he also took home a nice little bonus from sponsors Nike.

71) Kevin Love

Sport: Basketball

Earnings: $28.4m

Kevin Love endured a torrid season as he battled with a foot injury, so the Cleveland Cavaliers star did not get much time to prove why he was handed a $120m extension last summer.

70) Kawhi Leonard

Sport: Basketball

Earnings: $28.7m

Leading the Raptors to an incredible finals victory over the Golden State Warriors, Kawhi Leonard has the world at his feet right now. Whether he re-signs in Toronto or heads elsewhere, he is guaranteed to pick up another mammoth contract.

69) C.J. McCollum

Sport: Basketball

Earnings: $28.8m

Now one of the NBA's finest guards, C.J. McCollum has continued to prove why he is beloved by many in Portland, steering the Trail Blazers to the Western Conference Finals earlier this summer.

68) Jake Arrieta

Sport: Baseball

Earnings: $28.8m

Jake Arrieta inked a $75m deal with the Philadelphia Phillies last season, but his time with his new team has been marred by injuries which have prevented him from showcasing his abilities.

67) Earl Thomas

Sport: American Football

Earnings: $29m

After guiding the Seattle Seahawks to back-to-back Super Bowls earlier in his career, Earl Thomas signed on with the Baltimore Ravens in March as he looks to move on from the injury problems which have derailed his progress in recent seasons.

66) Oscar


Sport: Football

Earnings: $29m

Oscar surprised many when he swapped Chelsea for Shanghai SIPG in 2017, but the Brazilian midfielder eventually inked a deal which saw him quadruple his weekly salary.

Since heading to China, he has been one of the Super League's top performers.

Still under contract until the end of December 2020, Oscar stands to take home $25m annually, on top of his additional sponsorship deals.

65) Geno Atkins

Sport: American Football

Earnings: $29.1m

A seven-time Pro Bowler, Geno Atkins earned himself a hefty contract extension with the Cincinnati Bengals last summer which will keep him with the team until 2022.

64) Serena Williams


Sport: Tennis

Earnings: $29.2m

Whilst Serena Williams' winnings are not nearly enough to earn her a place on this list, she took home an incredible $25m in endorsements alone last year. An influential investor, Williams has contributed to 34 different start-ups in the last five years, whilst she also works closely with the likes of Gatorade and Wilson Sporting Goods.

63) Miguel Cabrera

Sport: Baseball

Earnings: $29.2m

When he signed his $248m extension in 2014, Detroit Tigers star Miguel Cabrera average earnings were the highest in MLB history. The two-time MVP has struggled with injuries since then, but continues to be one of the game's finest in his role.

62) Yoenis Cespedes

Sport: Baseball

Earnings: $29.4m

Yoenis Cespedes has suffered horribly with injuries since signing a lucrative extension with the New York Mets in 2016. Problems with his hamstrings and heels have forced him to miss over 70% of his side's games since signing, whilst his recent ankle injury will extend his stay on the sidelines.

61) Justin Verlander

Sport: Baseball

Earnings: $29.5m

Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander continues to be one of the finest players around. His legendary status has helped him secure plenty of sponsorship deals, and his recent $66m extension will see his earnings increase even more.

60) Matt Ryan

Sport: American Football

Earnings: $29.8m

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan became the first NFL player to receive an annual salary of over $30m in 2018, but he then restructured his contract to receive almost $9m worth of salary as a signing bonus.

59) Paul Millsap

Sport: Basketball

Earnings: $30.1m

Paul Millsap penned a $90m deal with the Denver Nuggets in 2017 to cement his place as one of the NBA's top earners, whilst he also profited from sponsorship deals with Panini and Nike.

58) Mesut Ozil


Sport: Football

Earnings: $30.2m

In one of Arsene Wenger's final moves as Arsenal manager, he doubled Mesut Ozil's wage and extended his contract until the summer of 2021. However, many fans have been left less than impressed with the deal.

The German fell out of favour under new boss Unai Emery, and he has faced a huge amount of criticism over his perceived lack of effort on the pitch.

Undoubtedly one of the finest creative midfielders around, Ozil has been heavily linked with a move away from Arsenal, although his high salary could prove problematic.

57) Trey Flowers

Sport: American Football

Earnings: $30.2m

One of the NFL's top-earning defensive ends, Trey Flowers' $90m extension with the Detroit Lions will almost certainly keep him on this list for the next five seasons.

56) Deontay Wilder

Sport: Boxing

Earnings: $30.5m

WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder earned huge sums in his victories over both Tyson Fury and Dominic Breazeale. His clash with the former was the most lucrative heavyweight fight in the USA since 2003, grossing around $30m.

55) Kylian Mbappe


Sport: Football

Earnings: $30.6m

Kylian Mbappe may be just 20 years old, but he has already enjoyed an unfathomable level of success throughout his career.

The PSG star already has three Ligue 1 titles, whilst he was vital in France's run to World Cup glory last summer. Widely viewed as one of the finest around, it seems like the only way is up for Mbappe.

Under contract until 2022, the Frenchman stands to pocket a huge amount of money over the next few years, whilst his sponsorship deals with both Nike and Hublot will also increase his earnings.

54) Clayton Kershaw

Sport: Baseball

Earnings: $30.7m

Clayton Kershaw's contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers includes multiple $1m bonuses which relate to how many games he starts, and his $93m salary over the next three years will help him retain his place on this list.

53) Alexis Sanchez


Sport: Football

Earnings: $30.8m

What hasn't already been said about Alexis Sanchez's enormous contract with Manchester United?

The Chilean is one of the world's highest earners, but you wouldn't have guessed that by looking at his recent form. With just five goalS and nine assists in 45 games by the end of the 2018/19 season, Sanchez has attracted plenty of criticism from fans and rivals alike.

A move away from Old Trafford seems almost a certainty, but it is now a question of finding a side who could afford to take on his huge wage packet.

52) Jordan Spieth

Sport: Golf

Earnings: $31.1m

Despite being just 25 years old, Jordan Spieth is already one of golf's biggest names, helping him earn a huge $29m in endorsements alone.

51) Mike Conley Jr

Sport: Basketball

Earnings: $31.5m

When Mike Conley signed his huge contract extension with the Memphis Grizzlies in 2016, it was the largest contract in league history. There has been plenty of speculation about a potential trade, although few teams can afford to absorb his salary.

50) David Price

Sport: Baseball

Earnings: $31.7m

David Price's seven-year, $217m contract is the most lucrative deal for ever signed by a pitcher, and the Boston Red Sox star was instrumental in helping his team win the World Series last season.

49) Al Horford

Sport: Basketball

Earnings: $32m

With the highest cap hit of any centre in the NBA, Boston Celtics star Al Horford will remain one of the league's highest earners until his deal expires next summer.

48) Joel Embiid

Sport: Basketball

Earnings: $32.1m

As a vital part of 'The Process' in Philadelphia, 76ers big man Joel Embiid was handed a huge contract in 2017. With a sizeable contract with Under Armour also to his name, Embiid remains one of basketball's most marketable figures.

47) Justin Rose

Sport: Golf

Earnings: $32.4m

Beating Tiger Woods to the 2018 FedEx Cup netted Justin Rose a cool $10m, and his lucrative deals with Bonobos and Honma help Rose climb up this list.

46) Andres Iniesta

Vissel Kobe v Shonan Bellmare - J.League J1
Vissel Kobe v Shonan Bellmare - J.League J1 / Buddhika Weerasinghe/GettyImages

Sport: Football

Earnings: $32.5m

Legendary midfielder Andres Iniesta netted a huge contract when he moved to Japanese side Vissel Kobe in 2018, ending his 22-year spell with Barcelona.

Now 35, the Spaniard has taken up a role in helping to improve the stature of Japanese football.

Off the pitch, Iniesta has an expensive deal with Asics, whilst his personal winery has also generated an impressive income.

45) DeMar DeRozan

Sport: Basketball

Earnings: $32.8m

DeMar DeRozan signed a huge contract with the Raptors but, after failing to compete for the championship, he was shipped off to the San Antonio Spurs to bring in Kawhi Leonard, which worked out alright for the organisation.

44) Paul Pogba

Manchester United v Cardiff City - Premier League
Manchester United v Cardiff City - Premier League / Stu Forster/GettyImages

Sport: Football

Earnings: $33m

Manchester United spent a huge amount of money bringing Paul Pogba back to Old Trafford, and that's before his salary comes into question.

The Frenchman took home $29m in earnings, on top of an additional $4m in endorsements, as he has proven to be one of the world's most marketable footballers.

Recently, his future in Manchester has come into question, with both Real Madrid and Juventus both thought to be keen on signing the midfielder, which could see Pogba's earnings increase even more.

43) Kyle Lowry

Sport: Basketball

Earnings: $33.8m

As the highest earner on the Raptors, Kyle Lowry is guaranteed a minimum of $93m over the next three years, whilst he can also pick up healthy bonuses if he continues to perform well for the champions.

42) Carmelo Anthony

Sport: Basketball

Earnings: $34m

The vast majority of Carmelo Anthony's earnings have come from his $25.5m contract buyout from the Atlanta Hawks, whilst the legendary forward has not been seen since being waived by the Chicago Bulls in February.

41) Klay Thompson

Sport: Basketball

Earnings: $34.3m

Golden State Warriors icon Klay Thompson is set to become a free agent, but a recent ACL injury may hamper any potential earnings for the deadly three-point shooter.

40) Gordon Hayward

Sport: Basketball

Earnings: $34.3m

A gruesome leg injury has stopped Gordon Hayward from bringing his best to the Boston Celtics, but his salary was still the sixth-highest in the NBA last season.

39) Anthony Davis

Sport: Basketball

Earnings: $34.6m

As one of the finest players in the NBA, Anthony Davis is understandably one of the league's top earners. He is eligible for a supermax extension which could be worth a record $230m.

38) Manny Machado

Sport: Baseball

Earnings: $34.8m

Manny Machado's 10-year, $300m contract with the San Diego Padres was the largest free-agent contract in American sports history when he signed in February, and it included a hefty $20m signing bonus.

37) Rafael Nadal

Sport: Tennis

Earnings: $35m

Rafael Nadal picked up his 12th French Open title in June, helping his iconic legacy to grow even further. Sponsorship deals with the likes of Nike and Tommy Hilfiger have helped the Spaniard earn $26m just from endorsements.

36) Nick Foles

Sport: American Football

Earnings: $35.8m

After winning the Super Bowl MVP award with the Philadelphia Eagles, Nick Foles opted to move to the Jacksonville Jaguars in March, become the 13th-highest earning quarterback in the NFL.

35) Kei Nishikori

Sport: Tennis

Earnings: $37.3m

Kei Nishikori's endorsement deals were amongst the most lucrative in the world last year, earning the Japanese star $33m. He is set to be one of the faces of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, and is partnered with plenty of the games' biggest sponsors.

34) Brandin Cooks

Sport: American Football

Earnings: $38m

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Brandin Cooks earned himself a five-year, $81m extension last summer, which makes him one of the NFL's highest earners in his position.

33) Paul George

Sport: Basketball

Earnings: $38.6m

Paul George stunned the world by committing his future to the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2018, inking a huge $137m extension. He also has his own signature shoe with Nike, further adding to his impressive earnings.

32) Rory McIlroy

Sport: Golf

Earnings: $39m

With a number of huge endorsements, Rory McIlroy is one of golf's most recognisable faces. Working alongside the likes of Nike and Omega, the 30-year-old picked up over $30m in sponsorship last year.

31) Blake Griffin

Sport: Basketball

Earnings: $39.1m

In what was a standout year for Blake Griffin, the Detroit Pistons power forward proved to be one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in the NBA, and he he remains under contract until the summer of 2022.

30) Sebastian Vettel

Sport: Racing

Earnings: $40.3m

Whilst Sebastian Vettel's recent form has been disappointing by his high standards, his contract with Formula One makes him one of the world's highest earners.

29) Damian Lillard

Sport: Basketball

Earnings: $41.1m

Damian Lillard's earnings with the Portland Trail Blazers are expected to skyrocket in the near future if the point guard signs a $191m supermax extension, whilst his signature show is one of Adidas' top sellers.

28) Aaron Donald

Sport: American Football

Earnings: $41.4m

No defensive player has ever signed a bigger deal than Los Angeles Rams star Aaron Donald, who penned a huge six-year, $135m deal in 2018.

27) Drew Brees

Sport: American Football

Earnings: $42.4m

A large part of New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees' earnings come from his investments away from the field. He owns multiple Jimmy John's and Dunkin' franchises in America, whilst he also works closely with a number of other organisations.

26) Giannis Antetokounmpo

Sport: Basketball

Earnings: $43.2m

Many's tip for the upcoming MVP award, Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo has recently agreed a sizeable pay increase with Nike, whilst his soon-to-be released signature shoe will only boost The Greek Freak's earnings.

25) Kyrie Irving

Sport: Basketball

Earnings: $43.3m

Generating earnings through deals with Nike, 2K Sports and Pepsi, Boston Celtics star Kyrie Irving could make even more money if he agrees a bumper new contract in free agency.

24) Chris Paul

Sport: Basketball

Earnings: $43.8m

Houston Rockets star Chris Paul has the NBA's third-highest average salary, whilst the legendary guard also does plenty of work behind the scenes to improve his earnings.

23) Bryce Harper

Sport: Baseball

Earnings: $44.5m

Bryce Harper's 13-year, $330m contract is the second-largest in baseball history, whilst his lucrative deal with Under Armour has helped his endorsements earnings reach the highest of any player in the league.

22) DeMarcus Lawrence

Sport: American Football

Earnings: $46.9m

DeMarcus Lawrence will earn a guaranteed $65m over the next four seasons, which is a record for any player who isn't a quarterback. His $21m-a-year average salary is also the highest of any defensive end.

21) Conor McGregor

Sport: Mixed Martial Arts

Earnings: $47m

Despite fighting just once over the last year, Conor McGregor still finds himself near the top of this list after his clash with Khabib Nurmagomedov sold a record 2.4m pay-per-view buys.

20) James Harden

Sport: Basketball

Earnings: $47.7m

The defending league MVP, James Harden enjoyed another stellar season with the Rockets. As one of the most recognisable faces in sport, Harden (and his beard) works closely with brands like Adidas and Amazon to boost his earnings even more.

19) Phil Mickelson

Sport: Golf

Earnings: $48.4m

One of the most successful golfers in history, Phil Mickelson netted one of the biggest prizes of his career - $9m - when he defeated Tiger Woods in Capital One's The Match in November.

18) Mike Trout

Sport: Baseball

Earnings: $50.6m

Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout boasts the biggest contract in team sports history, penning a 12-year, $426.5m in April. He became the first baseball player since Ken Griffey Jr to release his own signature shoe when he partnered with Nike in 2014, and he also works alongside Subway and SuperPretzel.

17) Novak Djokovic

Sport: Tennis

Earnings: $50.6m

Novak Djokovic enjoyed another year atop the tennis mountain, bagging three consecutive Grand Slam titles, before falling to Dominic Thiem in the French Open.

16) Russell Westbrook

Sport: Basketball

Earnings: $53.7m

The Oklahoma City Thunder's Russell Westbrook is in the midst of a five-year, $205m contract - the league's highest in terms of overall value - whilst the release of his signature shoe with Nike helped grow his brand further. 

15) Khalil Mack

Sport: American Football

Earnings: $55m

Khalil Mack signed the NFL's most lucrative contract for a defensive player when he penned a huge $141m extension with the Chicago Bears in 2018, cementing his legacy as one of the finest players in his position.

14) Anthony Joshua

Sport: Boxing

Earnings: $55m

Former WBA, IBF, WBO, and IBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua was one of boxing's dominant forces over the last year, before a shock defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr in June. 

Outside the ring, the towering Englishman works closely with a number of huge brands, making him one of the most marketable sportsmen worldwide.

13) Lewis Hamilton

Sport: Racing

Earnings: $55m

To celebrate his fifth Formula One title, Lewis Hamilton penned a new two-year contract to earn more than $40m per year, whilst his lucrative partnerships with Police and Tommy Hilfiger helped to add an extra $10m to his earnings.

12) Ben Roethlisberger

Sport: American Football

Earnings: $55.5m

One of the NFL's most successful quarterbacks ever, Ben Roethlisberger was handed a $37.5m signing bonus when he extended his contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers in April. The extension was worth an additional $68m, so expect his name to remain on this list for the foreseeable future.

11) Tiger Woods

Sport: Golf

Earnings: $63.9m

Tiger Woods returned to the limelight in style, winning his first PGA Tour title in five years, before going on to win The Masters in April. With his own personal TV deal and range of signature clubs, he continued to add to his breathtaking tally of $1.4bn in sponsorship earnings.

10) Kevin Durant

Sport: Basketball

Earnings: $65.4m

As the tenth-highest earner of the year, Kevin Durant continued to prove why he is viewed as one of the finest basketball players in history.

Whether he remains with the Golden State Warriors or opts to take his talents elsewhere in free agency, he will certainly earn another lucrative contract, even though he will likely be on the shelf for the majority of next season after rupturing his Achilles tendon.

The likes of Google and Nike contribute to his $35m endorsement earnings, whilst Durant also invests in a number of companies to help grow his portfolio.

9) Stephen Curry

Sport: Basketball

Earnings: $79.8m

He may not have been able to add another championship to his huge trophy cabinet, but Stephen Curry remains one of basketball's top commodities.

The Warriors guard has had the league's highest salary over the last two seasons, as he has continued to rain down three-pointers alongside Durant and Thompson.

Curry's company, SC30, manages his investments and sponsorship, which includes huge deals with Under Armour and Sony, making him one of the world's most valuable stars.

8) LeBron James

Sport: Basketball

Earnings: $89m

Yet again, LeBron James was the NBA's highest earner. The Los Angeles Lakers star has just completed the first year of his four-year, $153m contract, but that is only the beginning of his earnings.

He owns countless companies, spreading his business expertise across various fields, including production, education and food.

James has pledged an enormous amount of his wealth to helping children across America access better schools and college, and is easily one of the biggest brands in sports.

7) Aaron Rodgers

Sport: American Football

Earnings: $89.3m

As one of the NFL's finest passers, quarterback Aaron Rodgers earned himself a huge contract extension with the Green Bay Packers back in August, but he has been just as busy away from the field.

He became a minority shareholder of the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks, whilst he also co-founded Rx3 Ventures, contributing his fair share of the company's $50m budget to help investors and consumers make the most out of their money.

The 35-year-old will pick up a base salary of $20m next year, and that's before any additional bonuses.

6) Russell Wilson

Sport: American Football

Earnings: $89.5m

The Seattle Seahawks made Russell Wilson the highest paid player in the NFL when they signed him to a four-year, $140m contract in April.

As one of the most successful quarterbacks of all time, Wilson has enjoyed a stunning career since being drafted in 2010, featuring in six Pro Bowls, including in 2018. 

Outside of sport, Wilson owns his own management firm, whilst he has also invested in the Portland Diamond Project in the hope of bringing a baseball team to Oregon.

5) Roger Federer

Sport: Tennis

Earnings: $93.4m

Roger Federer won just $7.4m of his $93.4m earnings, earning an incredible $86m in endorsements, which is far more than any other athlete.

The likes of Credit Suisse and Rolex work with Federer, whilst he recently signed a ten-year, $300m deal with Uniqlo to ensure his wealth will continue to grow for years to come.

He also briefly returned to the top of the tennis world rankings in 2018, making him the oldest man to ever achieve such a feat.

4) Canelo Alvarez

Sport: Boxing

Earnings: $94m

As one of sports biggest draws, Canelo Alvarez penned a $365m deal with DAZN in 2018 to seal the broadcasting rights of his next 11 fights, most of which are expected to earn him around $35m.

With countless middleweight titles to his name, Alvarez has brought in millions of pay-per-view buys, including over one million in each of his bouts against Gennady Golovkin.

With few investments and endorsements to his name, the vast majority of Alvarez's wealth has come directly through boxing and, thanks to the DAZN deal, that looks set to continue for a while longer.

3) Neymar


Sport: Football

Earnings: $105m

When PSG struck a deal with Barcelona to sign Neymar in 2017, it became the most expensive transfer of all time, and the Brazilian also earned his own sizeable fee.

His contract, which expires in 2022, is worth all of $350m, whilst his immense social media brand - his 200 million followers across Instagram, Twitter and Facebook is the second highest of all athletes - also helps generate a huge income.

The 27-year-old has been linked with a blockbuster return to Camp Nou this summer which, if it goes through, could see Neymar's earnings rise even more.

2) Cristiano Ronaldo

Portugal v Netherlands - UEFA Nations League Final
Portugal v Netherlands - UEFA Nations League Final / Dean Mouhtaropoulos/GettyImages

Sport: Football

Earnings: $109m

Cristiano Ronaldo took a pay cut when he swapped Real Madrid for Juventus in 2018, but he was still one of the best paid athletes in the world, taking home $64m per year.

His sponsorship deals with the likes of Nike, Electronic Arts and DAZN more than make up for the lost salary and, as the most followed athlete on social media, he is also one of the world's biggest brands.

He is undoubtedly one of the greatest athletes of all time, and he is definitely paid as such.

1) Lionel Messi

Barcelona v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: First Leg
Barcelona v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: First Leg / Catherine Ivill/GettyImages

Sport: Football

Earnings: $127m

The world's highest earning athlete, Barcelona star Lionel Messi continues to be one of sport's most recognisable faces.

His contract pays him around $80m annually, whilst his lifelong deal with Adidas will ensure that he continues to rake in the money, even after his playing days come to an end.

With 602 goals and 242 assists in 687 appearances for the Blaugrana, it's no surprise that Barcelona want to pay him such a huge amount. He is as close to a guarantee to success that you can get in this day and age, and his earnings certainly reflect that.