Cristiano Ronaldo with the AlNassr Saudi Club.
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Winners of the paycheck battle for world's highest-paid athletes

Written by:
July 8, 2024
oday jamil moari // Shutterstock

This story was produced by and reviewed and distributed by Stacker Media.

Winners of the paycheck battle for world's highest-paid athletes reports that top earners among the highest-paid athletes include: 

Statista graphic showing the Top 8 of the World's Highest-Paid Athletes and their estimated earnings.
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Statista // Forbes


  • The fact that the top two athletes based in Saudi Arabia are on this list shows their financial might.
  • It's cool to see two basketball players on the list. It shows how well the NBA is doing financially.

Soccer Stars Dominate

Soccer players are the highest-paid athletes on this list. They occupy two of the top three positions. The reasons are simple. Soccer's global popularity, the substantial salaries that players in major divisions in Europe and the Saudi Pro League command, and endorsement deals with major brands all contribute to its inclusion in this list.

In the year 2022, Cristiano Ronaldo departed Manchester United to join Al Nassr in the Saudi Pro League. It was initially reported that his contract with Al Nassr was valued at $207 million per season. Nevertheless, they subsequently amended it to guarantee him $75 million annually, with the potential for the total to exceed $200 million through a variety of agreements.

Lionel Messi's move to Major League Soccer (MLS) has really boosted the league's and Inter Miami's exposure.

Rising Star

Golfer Jon Rahm ranks second on the list. The PGA Tour was taken aback in December when Rahm signed a contract with LIV that was reportedly valued at over $300 million. This year, Forbes anticipates that his on-field earnings will amount to $198 million.

World's Highest-Paid Athletes: On the Field or Off?

LeBron James, Messi, and Giannis Antetokounmpo are the sole athletes on the list whose off-field earnings surpass their on-field earnings.

James' annual revenues of $80 million are the highest of any individual listed off the field, in part due to a new partnership agreement with DraftKings.

In addition to being a member of the Fenway Sports Group, the four-time NBA MVP was also a member of the Strategic Sports Group, which earlier this year invested $3 billion in the PGA Tour.

The chart also outlines the amount of money that each athlete earns from their sport (on-field) and endorsements (off-field).

Consider Kylian Mbappé. At PSG, he derived the majority of his income from his salary and incentives. Neymar, on the other hand, earned more money from endorsements than he did from his time at Paris Saint-Germain.

Final Score

This list represents some of the most exceptionally talented and successful athletes in the world. They have achieved impressive accomplishments in their fields. For this, they are generously rewarded for their hard work and dedication.

This infographic provides an interesting viewpoint on the world of professional sports and the impressive earnings that top athletes can amass.

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