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Highest-paid athletes in the world

  • Highest-paid athletes in the world

    It’s no secret that popular athletes reel in some pretty hefty paydays for their capacity to entertain, skills, and endorsement deals. The fact is: Millions of people tune in to see these athletes succeed every single day. Often described as prominent first influencers, athletes bring in significant revenue to some of the biggest brand names in the world. Businesses invest in athletes because it is common knowledge that these celebrities bring in millions of supporters who stand by their choices in apparel, cars, services, and even alcoholic beverages.

    Furthermore, if becoming a major athlete was easy, millions of people would head down that path. But let’s face it, most people will never have the opportunity to experience the immense pressure that living in the public eye brings to the lives of professional athletes. Their every move is scrutinized, and their livelihood depends on their body’s loyalty to stay fit, active, and healthy. Some of the world’s highest-paid athletes have dedicated their lives to the sport since their early teens, and they train day and night to be the best in their field.

    Despite the massive hit to the sports industry due to the coronavirus pandemic of 2020, it wasn’t big enough to stop the players from playing the games fans love to see. Like most of the world, they’ve found a way to social distance, take health precautions, and move the games to a virtual setting. And thus, salaries continue to be paid.

    To find the highest-paid athletes globally, Stacker consulted Forbes’ Highest Paid Athletes Ranking from May 2020. Forbes calculates total earnings as earnings from June 1, 2019, to June 1, 2020. Methodologies for specific sports can be found on the Forbes website.

    And yes, the gender pay gap across all sports still exists. Last year there was only one woman on this list; this year there are two. Both play tennis, the sport that offers the narrowest gap. According to Salary.com, since 2007, the four Grand Slams have paid equal prize money to the male and female winners. Other than these tournaments, however, The New York Times calculates that female tennis players make 80 cents to every dollar their male counterparts make, which pretty much coincides with the current U.S. gender pay gap.

    Find your favorite athlete on the list of worldwide notables to see just how much they’re rolling in dough.

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  • #61. Joel Embiid (tie)

    - Total earnings: $26.7 million
    - Endorsement earnings: $6 million (#35 among all athletes)
    - Salary/Winnings: $20.7 million (#49 among all athletes)
    - Sport: Basketball

    With only one year of college basketball experience as a Kansas Jayhawk, Joel Embiid was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers in 2014 as a center and signed a five-year contract extension with the team in 2017. Aside from this, he has made almost $6.8 million from his endorsement deals with companies such as Amazon, Electronics Arts Inc., and Under Armour. According to Forbes, Embiid has made considerable contributions to the coronavirus relief effort.

  • #60. Antoine Griezmann (tie)

    - Total earnings: $26.7 million
    - Endorsement earnings: $5.5 million (#38 among all athletes)
    - Salary/Winnings: $21.2 million (#46 among all athletes)
    - Sport: Soccer

    With sponsors like Puma and Huawei, it’s no wonder Antoine Griezmann made it to the list of highest-paid athletes. He plays forward for two teams—Barcelona and the French national team. In 2018, he helped the French team take home the World Cup trophy, contributing to scoring more than half of the 14 game goals.

  • #59. Arik Armstead

    - Total earnings: $26.8 million
    - Endorsement earnings: $0.3 million (#60 among all athletes)
    - Salary/Winnings: $26.5 million (#29 among all athletes)
    - Sport: Football

    Originally signing with the San Francisco 49ers in 2015 as a first-round draft pick, Arik Armstead, a defensive end, signed a five-year contract extension in March, with a $17.5 million bonus, according to Forbes. Toyota Motor and Nike are two of Armstead’s major sponsors. His philanthropic efforts lean toward not only northern California coronavirus relief efforts, but also his educational equality foundation.

  • #58. Clayton Kershaw (tie)

    - Total earnings: $27.3 million
    - Endorsement earnings: $0.8 million (#56 among all athletes)
    - Salary/Winnings: $26.5 million (#29 among all athletes)
    - Sport: Baseball

    Clayton Kershaw signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008, and this trailblazer on the baseball field received one of the highest professional baseball contract extensions for a pitcher in 2013 at $215 million. He’s a celebrity endorser for well-known brands, which currently include Topps, Wilson Sporting Goods, and Skechers. Kershaw also is involved in numerous humanitarian efforts, both national and international.

  • #58. Zion Williamson (tie)

    - Total earnings: $27.3 million
    - Endorsement earnings: $20 million (#19 among all athletes)
    - Salary/Winnings: $7.3 million (#54 among all athletes)
    - Sport: Basketball

    Breaking college basketball records at Duke University in 2019 during his freshman year, Zion Williamson continued his record-breaking ways in a $44 million four-year deal with the New Orleans Pelicans in his rookie year. The 20-year-old power forward signed on with Gatorade, and has also partnered with Nike’s Jordan Brand, Mountain Dew, Panini Prizm basketball cards and 2K Sports. According to Fanatics, where his merchandise is sold, he has had some of the highest sales in the NBA.

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  • #56. Oscar

    - Total earnings: $27.5 million
    - Endorsement earnings: $1.7 million (#54 among all athletes)
    - Salary/Winnings: $25.8 million (#32 among all athletes)
    - Sport: Soccer

    Oscar dos Santos Emboaba Júnior, a Brazilian midfielder known as Oscar, made his way to the Chinese Super League in 2017 after scoring two Premier League wins. Oscar had played in the league for more than a decade and, throughout that time, scored one of his biggest sponsorships from Adidas. Oscar will be unable to negotiate his current salary in the CSL because of its 2020 salary restrictions on foreign players.

  • #52. Jimmy Butler (tie)

    - Total earnings: $27.6 million
    - Endorsement earnings: $3 million (#44 among all athletes)
    - Salary/Winnings: $24.6 million (#36 among all athletes)
    - Sport: Basketball

    Jimmy Butler was a Chicago Bulls’ first round draft pick in 2011 and became a Philadelphia 76er in a $142 million sign-and-trade agreement in 2019. His $3 million earnings from endorsements all stem from brand names like Beats by Dre, Aquahydrate, and currently Anheuser-Busch InBev. After winning five NBA All-Star titles, 2020 is not the first year Butler has been named one of the best athletes of his time. Through charitable donations, he’s also used some of his earnings to help end poverty for children.

  • #52. Gordon Hayward (tie)

    - Total earnings: $27.6 million
    - Endorsement earnings: $3 million (#44 among all athletes)
    - Salary/Winnings: $24.6 million (#36 among all athletes)
    - Sport: Basketball

    Boston Celtic Gordon Hayward has incredible achievements on the court, and it’s paid off for him big time. He received an endorsement deal with HyperX, a video game equipment company, and set aside millions for his personal investments. He is known for enjoying the fruits of his labor with numerous luxury vehicles and real estate investments.

  • #52. Jordan Spieth (tie)

    - Total earnings: $27.6 million
    - Endorsement earnings: $26 million (#16 among all athletes)
    - Salary/Winnings: $1.6 million (#59 among all athletes)
    - Sport: Golf

    Jordan Spieth’s list of accomplishments is one for the history books with the number of championship titles he’s accumulated, spending 24 weeks at #1 in the Official World Golf Ranking, and more. The perks of this: becoming one of the highest-paid golfers of his generation for endorsing brands like Rolex, AT&T, Titleist, and Under Armour—and being only one of four golfers, including Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, to appear on a box of Wheaties.

  • #52. Kemba Walker (tie)

    - Total earnings: $27.6 million
    - Endorsement earnings: $3 million (#44 among all athletes)
    - Salary/Winnings: $24.6 million (#36 among all athletes)
    - Sport: Basketball

    Four-time All-Star Kemba Walker started his career with the Charlotte Hornets in 2011, and currently is a Boston Celtic. He began endorsing Under Armour early on, but in 2015 he switched to Nike’s Jordan Brand.

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