Highest Paid Athletes Across the World

The persistent practice sessions and remarkable performance of various sportspeople on the field earns them equally rewarding prize money in the form of salary, bonus, and endorsements. The more they sweat on the field, the more they enjoy the luxuries off field. Since they become a role model for the generations to come, they are generally cashed in by major brands for lump sum amount of money to join the player’s image with their brand. Here is a list of some of the highest paid athletes in the world and an overview of their earnings comprising of salaries and sponsorships:

Cristiano Ronaldo

This 31 year old soccer player is currently at the top spot as the highest paid athlete in the world with total earnings of $88 million in a year. These earnings include about $56 million as earnings and bonus from soccer after breaking the 50-goal mark for Real Madrid six seasons in a row and becoming FIFA best player in the world thrice. After Michael Jordan, Ronaldo is the second team athlete to stand on the top position of the list of highest paid athletes by Forbes.

 His popularity on social media, with over 200 million followers, has earned him numerous sponsorships worth a whooping $32 million. These sponsorships include big brands such as Nike, Monster headphones, Tag Heuer, and so on. With Nike alone, Ronaldo signed an extension to the contract last year worth $13 million a year. Other than contracts with popular brands, Ronaldo also has his own line of shirts, suits, underwear, cologne, shoes, and also hotels which are under construction.

Roger Federer

This 17-time Grand Slam champion is the highest paid tennis player with overall earnings of about $67.8 million between June 2015 and June 2016. After Andre Agassi’s farewell from the sport in 2006, Federer has gained a foothold on the spot of top-earner in tennis annually. Since 2014, even after Novak Djokovic left Federer behind on the court after earning five Grand Slam titles, he still could not match him in earnings owing to Fed’s whooping off-court earnings. His sponsorships with premium companies such as Rolex, Credit-Suisse, Nike, and Mercedes-Benz have earned him about $60 million.

Even though Federer had to walk out of the French Open this year in May owing to knee and back injuries, he still remains the top player off-court with earnings from his sponsorship deals. Additionally, Federer also charges fees of around $2 million for appearing at exhibitions as his presence can increase the ticket sales immensely.

Jordan Speith

Jordan Speith, golf’s golden boy, has a net worth of $52.8 million including $20.8 million from the sport and about $32 million from endorsements. Speith won the FedEx Cup in 2015 earning him an additional $10 million bonus. This bonus, coupled with the PGA winnings and his world No. 1 ranking earned him bonuses from partners such as Titleist and Under Armour.

About 4/5th of Speith’s earnings, i.e., a major portion, come from endorsements including multi-million dollar deals with brands such as AT&T, Net Jets, Under Armour, Rolex, Perfect Sense, and Super Strokes. Speith reportedly grabbed $4.5 million from endorsements in 2013, $10 million in 2014, and a massive $50 million in 2015. He has said to have already signed endorsement deals for the same amount in 2016 and as of 6/23/16; he has made over $4 million. Overall, since the golfer turned pro in 2012, he has made over $114 million from sponsorships alone.

Lewis Hamilton

Britain’s richest young sportsman, racer Lewis Hamilton is one of the most marketable sportsmen in the world, currently racing for the Mercedes AMG Petronas team. He just signed a new 3-year extension to the contract with Mercedes Benz to drive for Mercedes’ F1 team that could cash in up to $140 million, including bonuses. This would make Hamilton the highest paid British Sportsman in the history of Formula 1.

He has won at least one race in each season he has competed rill date, making him the only driver in the history of the sport to achieve this feat. These achievements have earned him money not only as earnings from the sport, but also from various lucrative deals with brands. Other than his deal with Mercedes, Hamilton is associated with various other endorsements deals of premium brands including Tag Heuer, IWC, L’Oreal, Bombardier, Reebok, and Monster Energy.

With mullah coming in from association with various brands and companies, Hamilton is known for spending it lavishly as is figured from his $30 million worth own private jet and a $15 million apartment in Monaco.

He is the only driver in the history of the sport to have won at least one race in each season he has competed to date, with McLaren from 2007 until 2012, and with Mercedes since 2013.

LeBron James

LeBron James, two times Olympic gold medalist (2008, 2012), is an American professional basketball player for the Cleveland Cavaliers of the NBA. James has won various championships including three NBA championships and four NBA Most Valuable Player Awards, marking his name amongst the greatest NBA players till date. A successful player like this is ought to be a valuable one. In 2016, James’ earnings total a whopping $77.2 million, including $23.2 million from salaries and a massive $54 million from endorsements.

James is considered to have basketball’s biggest endorsement owing to his association with brands including McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Upper Deck, and Nike. By renewing his contract with Nike in 2015 to last a lifetime, he became the only player in the history of the company to have gained such an association. His other deals include contracts with Microsoft, Dunkin Donuts, Samsung, and State Farm.

Overall, James’ net worth is estimated to be over a massive $300 million.

Leonel Messi

Messi is one of the highest-paid footballers owing to various feats including winning FIFA’s player of the year award five times. The total earnings of this reigning Ballon d’Or winner for the year 2016 was about $81.4 million, comprising of $53.4 million in salaries and $28 million from advertisements and sponsorships.

Tiger Woods

Despite not ruling the golf course in 2016 due to injuries and earning just $274,000 in salary on field, Tiger Woods has still managed to be amongst the highest paid athletes by grabbing endorsement deals worth about $45 million. The companies offering these deals include Nike, Rolex, Hero MotoCorp, Upper Deck, and Kowa. Nike alone pays him more than $20 million a year.

Joe Flacco

Joe Flacco’s $22.1 million average salary is the highest in the NFL. He signed a new three-year $66.4 million contract with the Baltimore Ravens, including a $40 million signing bonus. His earnings for the year 2016 include $44 million as salary and $500 K from endorsements.


In addition to being one of the highest paid soccer players in the world, Neymar is also among the highest paid Olympian athletes participating in the Rio 2016 Olympics. The Brazilian football player signed a five-year contract with FC Barcelona in 2013 worth an astonishing $119 million. In addition to his annual salary of about $14.5 million as recorded in 2016, Neymar earns a massive amount ($23 million in 2016) through endorsements for brands including Nike, Gillette, Red Bull, Konami, and Panasonic. 

Sebastian Vettel

This German racer signed a prestigious 3 year deal with Ferrari which would amount to $40 million annually, including bonuses according to his performance, making it one of the richest contracts in F1.

Usain Bolt

This Jamaican sprinter is one of the highest earning athletes, the majority of the earnings being from endorsements. While he earned about $2.5 million in salaries for the year 2016, he grabbed over $30 million from sponsors. Other than sponsors including Virgin Media, Hublot, and Visa and Nissan, the sportswear brand Puma is his biggest backer, offering $10 million annually. Overall, his earnings of $32.5 million from June 2015 to June 2016 are more than any other sprinter in the history of the sport.  

Novak Djokovic

Being the first player to ever earn $20 million as prize money in a single season, Djokovic is one of the top tennis players in the world, grabbing $82 million and 11 Grand Slam titles in the past 5½ years. His sponsors include brands such as Adidas, ANZ, Seiko, Uniqlo, Head, and Peugot.

Russell Wilson

This famous quarterback signed a massive $87.6 million contract extension with Seattle Seahawks in 2015, including a $31 million signing bonus. This amount is way more than the $2 million salary he was paid in his first three seasons. When it comes to endorsements and sponsorships, Wilson has scored deals with Nike, Microsoft, Bose and Braun, making him one of the NFL’s most marketable players. He now even has his own clothing line called Good Man Brand.

Fernando Alonso

Though Fernando’s team struggled to field a competitive car during his first year with McLaren-Honda, he was compensated by the company in the form of a three-year deal with them in 2015 worth about $36 million annually. With his salary of about $35 million, and endorsement deals worth about $1.5 million, Alonso’s net worth for the year 2016 sits at about $36.5 million.

James Harden

Harden’s strong 2014-15 season brought out his career highs in the sport thereby grabbing him a new and massive 13-year deal with Adidas worth up to $200 million. He also signed a four-year contract worth $118 million, keeping him in Texas through 2020.

Serena Williams

Serena Williams is rocking the tennis space and the sporting arena in general, being the world’s highest paid female athlete last year. She grabbed a whopping $78 million which is more than twice of the earnings of any other female athlete. Her three Grand Slam titles in 2015 earned her sponsors such as Nike and Wilson. She is also associated with brands including IBM, Beats, Audemars Piguet, Delta Air Lines, and Burlei bras along with having equity deals with Mission Athletecare and the Home Shopping Network.

Kei Nishikori

Kei Nishikori is the top player in Japan, being the first Asian player to reach the final of men’s Grand Slam in 2014. This amazing feat of Nishikori has earned him sponsorships from 15 different brands including Uniqlo, Adidas, Jaguar, Wilson, Tag Heuer, and Procter & Gamble. His deal with Uniqlo has been renewed in 2016, amounting to eight figures annually. 

Marcell Dareus

The Buffalo Bills signed a six-year contract extension with this NFL star worth $96.6 million in September 2015. Through this deal, Dareus would get $25 million as signing bonus and an additional $60 million for a non-quarterback.

Andy Murray

The importance of endorsements and sponsorships for sportspeople is known by all. Murray left Adidas last year to sign a four-year contract with Under Armour worth $6 million a year. He is also associated with Rado, Standard Life, and Head, adding Jaguar to the fleet this year. Other than endorsements, Murray has also been investing in start-ups through Seeders; the crowdfunding platform in which he also owns a stake.

Clayton Kershaw

Kershaw spiked his salary from $4 million to $30 million last year by signing a $215 million contract in 2014. Such a contract was the richest deal ever for a pitcher to get that time. When it comes to endorsements too, Kershaw grabs nearly seven-figure amounts from partners such as Topps, Under Armour, FantasyDraft.com, Art of the Game, Southern California Acura Dealers, and Wilson.