Athletes are some of the highest-paid people in the world, and you’ve probably found yourself wondering how much your favorite athletes are worth more than once. Lucky for you, we have combined a list of the top 20 richest athletes in the world. Our list contains the richest athletes that are still competing and remain global icons in 2021.
The athletes on this list not only have speed, technical skill, and power— they have record-breaking wealth that puts them in the hall of fame. This wealth has been earned over several years through investments, endorsements, and successful business ideas that ended up being extremely lucrative.
Without further ado, here are some of the richest athletes in the world:
Conor McGregor is an Irish MMA fighter with a net worth of $180 million. Back in January, fans were excited for McGregor’s return at UFC 257. However, many were left disappointed when Dustin Poirier knocked him out in the very first fight.
Despite this loss, McGregor still managed to make the top of the list of wealthy athletes in 2021. According to Forbes, his on-field earnings are around $22 million, making him one of the highest-paid athletes in the world.
The real game-changer for McGregor was the sale of his majority stake in Proper No. Twelve, a famous whiskey brand, for $150 million. This move led him to receive several endorsements from well-known companies like DraftKings, Dystopia: Contest of Heroes (a successful video game), and the lifestyle company Roots of Fight.
Everyone knows Lionel Messi as one of the best football players in the world (or soccer as Americans call it). In fact, his only competitor for that title is Cristiano Ronaldo. In addition to that title, Messi is also one of the wealthiest players in the world, with a net worth of $400 million. In Forbes’ list of the highest-paid athletes of 2021, Messi ranks second, earning a total of $130 million.
These earnings combine the $97 million he earns every year on-field, along with $33 million from the many elite endorsement deals he signed, including the lifetime partnership with Adidas. We believe Messi’s income is fair and well-deserved. After all, FIFA has given him the player of the year award six times.
Cristiano Ronaldo, the five-time FIFA player, has a net worth of $500 million, earning him a rightful spot among the highest-paid athletes. Ronaldo has been a valuable player for Manchester United, who always scores in the UEFA Champions League.
Reports from Forbes indicate that in 2021, Ronaldo was the third-highest paid athlete, with a total earning of $120 million. Along with his $70 million salary from Juventus, he has also made a total of $45 million in endorsements. Additionally, Nike signed Ronaldo as their lifelong ambassador, with a $1 billion deal.
Despite the famous footballer’s ankle injury, Dak Prescott has a salary of $97.5 million, and an additional earning of $33 million from endorsements. The Cowboy star’s four-year $160 million contract and $66 million bonus ensured he entered the $100 million club.
The future seems bright for Prescott’s team, which is also the most valuable sports team in the world. Prescott’s endorsement portfolio comprises several famous companies, including DirecTV, Sleep Number, and 7/11. In addition to this, Prescott announced that he has invested in the restaurant chain, Walk-Ons, in four different Texas locations.
LeBron James has an impressive estimated net worth of $850 million. Not only is he a basketball megastar, but he is also a four-time NBA MVP and one of the highest-paid sports players. In addition, this champ has managed to get some of the most profitable deals in the NBA and has partnerships with brands like Coca-Cola, Nike, Samsung, Beats by Dre, and many others.
In 2018, James signed a 4-year $153 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. When out of the public eye, James is a successful and generous philanthropic. He is a Blaze Pizza franchise co-owner and is the mastermind behind the LeBron James Family Foundation. This foundation has spent the last few years advocating for literacy, and in 2018, they even opened an elementary school.
Currently, Neymar hosts 282 million followers across social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Due to such fame, he enjoys a hefty net worth of $185 million. Additionally, he is the third-most famous athlete on social media, right after his PSG teammate Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. This means that brands are crazy over Neymar and are eager to sign him. Such endorsements have earned him $19 million in 2021.
The previous year, Neymar told his audience that he would be resigning from his contract with Jordan, Nike’s shoe brand. Instead, he signed a contract with Puma as the brand ambassador of their signature King Shoes.
Additionally, Neymar’s role in video games was announced in a top-notch game called Fortnite. This game hosted competitions offering players the chance to take home a pair of Neymar’s shoes.
Roger Federer has often been called the best male tennis player of all time with a net worth of $450 million. In addition, in 2018, Federer set the record for being the oldest tennis player who had consistently ranked first, all at the mere age of 36.
In 2021, Federer has made $90 million, most of which comes from endorsements with luxurious brands like Mercedes-Benz and Rolex. In addition to those, Federer has also signed a 10-year deal with the attire brand, Uniqlo. However, his biggest paycheck is coming soon from his Swiss apparel company, On, launching in autumn of this year.
The famous racer, Lewis Hamilton, has successfully conquered seven Formula 1 championships. With a net worth of $280 million, the Mercedes driver earned a total of $82 million in 2021 alone, making him one of the highest-paid athletes in the world.
Due to his 11 race wins last season, he received grand bonus payments, along with amazing endorsements that included Tommy Hilfiger, Puma, and Monster Energy. Hamilton is also planning to launch a team on the Extreme E-racing series.
Who said all top paid athletes achieve ultimate success in their youth? At 43, Tom Brady has just entered the best part of his career. He has a net worth of $270 million and enjoys numerous endorsement deals, with companies like Christopher Cloos and Fanatics, earning an astounding $31 million from them in 2021.
Brady has also earned incredible amounts as a speaker in the virtual circuit and, of course, as a commercial pitchman. He has also won the Super Bowl title for the 17th time, adding to his success as one of the top paid athletes. Brady also owns a wellness brand called TB12— his attempt at entrepreneurship as a side hustle.
On top of all his success, Brady recently announced that he would be launching a film production company, along with an NFT platform. It seems like this sports star keeps on blessing the world with his diverse talents.
You may know Kevin Durant as the young basketball player who was sidelined in the 2019–2020 season because of his Achilles injury— an incident that shook the Brooklyn Nets to the extreme. However, with a net worth of $200 million, this highest-paid athlete has become a media mogul after joining Boardroom and his Thirty-Five Ventures. His total earnings for 2021 are at an impressive $75 million.
Kevin Durant was also the producer of Two Distant Strangers, which earned him an Oscar for the best live-action short film the previous month. Last summer, Durant also bought a stake in MLS’s Philadelphia Union. When Uber purchased Postmates, Durant cashed in, investing approximately $1 million when it started.
In 2017, the two-time NBA MVP successfully secured a contract worth $215 million with the Golden State Warriors. During the same year, he was able to get his company, SC30, up and running. Curry’s company manages a number of his investments, brand partnerships, and philanthropic ventures.
Currently, Stephen Curry is one of the richest athletes in the world as he changed the dynamics of basketball when he publicly made a three-pointer shot. Due to his success, Curry has earned multiple top-notch endorsement deals, amounting to almost $40 million this year. With commissions and salary, this athlete made a total of $74.5 million this year.
Naomi Osaka is a tennis star, and in 2020, she was proclaimed the most-paid athlete amongst all female athletes. According to Forbes, her total earnings amount to $60 million.
At only 23, Osaka is richer than most athletes in the same industry. Her on-court earnings are $5 million, and her endorsements earn her an additional $55 million, making her the 12th highest-paid athlete of 2021.
Even though Tiger Woods’ big scandal in 2009 largely risked his sponsorship deals, endorsements, and marriage, Woods is still the wealthiest golfer globally with a net worth of $800 million.
He was the proud winner of the 2019 Masters, making it his first big win in almost 11 years. In 2021, Wood’s total earnings were $60 million. However, most of his wealth comes from endorsements from well-known brands like American Express, Nike, and Gatorade.
After 11 NBA seasons, Russell Westbrook went from being a part of Oklahoma City Thunder to the Houston Rockets in 2019 and then the Washington Wizards a year later. In 2018, Westbrook got his first pair of signature shoes from Nike’s Jordan brand.
In addition to his $33 million sports player salary, Westbrook earned $26 million from endorsements, earning him a total of $59 million this year.
Patrick Mahomes joined the Chiefs only a couple of years ago; however, he has become one the best athletes to ever grace the sport in a short period of time. According to his agency, Mahomes has signed a 10-year extension with Chiefs worth $503 million.
This extension is the richest contract in the history of sports. In fact, this deal has surpassed Mike Trout’s deal with the Los Angeles Angels, which was $426.5 million.
Even though the NFL has seen many athletes shake the world, all of them have eventually faded away. Mahomes, on the other hand, is here to stay. He is a record-breaker and has become the youngest athlete to win a Super Bowl and league MVP, all before the tender age of 25.
James Harden is the Houston Rockets’ star and is the driving force of the NBA. Harden is one of the highest-paid athletes, according to Forbes. Along with his $171 million extension, he has also signed several deals with Adidas that pay him very generously.
Moreover, Harden has partnered with global brands like BodyArmor and Amazon. His endorsements alone have earned him $18 million this year. Meanwhile, his on-field earnings this year was $33 million, making his total paycheck $51 million.
In November 2020, David Bakhtiari signed a four-year contract extension with the Packers, worth $105.5 million. The deal’s bonuses were reviewed in February 2021, and according to the new agreement, the contract has been updated so that Bakhtiari will earn approximately $23 million per year.
Even though Bakhtiari suffered some rib and knee injuries in 2020, he was named to the All-Pro first or second team in the past four seasons. Currently, his income amounts to $48 million, and he has earned $500,000 of that in endorsements alone.
Ronnie Stanley is an American football athlete who is part of the Baltimore Ravens. He plays as an offensive tackle and is known to be one of the highest-paid athletes in the world. In 2017, he received the title of the 13th best-left tackle. Due to his success, his net worth in 2021 was calculated to be $47.5 million.
Stanley is the highest-paid Baltimore player for 2021. His four-year contract amounts to $20.48 million, along with a signing bonus of $13.09 million. This year, his on-field salary was $47 million, and he received an additional $500,000 in endorsements.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is also commonly called the “Greek Freak” because of his Greek nationality and, of course, due to the sheer skill this basketball player possesses. Antetokounmpo’s success earned him a lot of money in the NBA. He has a $100 million extension with the Milwaukee Bucks, and he has remained a popular target for brands due to his MVP and All-Star accolades.
Antetokounmpo is also known for his amazing immigration story from Greece to the USA. In fact, he has recently signed a deal with Disney for a movie based on his life. In 2021, Antetokounmpo earned $25 million in endorsements and $22 million from all his winnings, landing him 19th on the highest-paid athletes.
Professional golfer, Dustin Johnson, earned a spot on the list of top-paid sportsmen with an estimated net worth of $50 million. In 2017, Johnson ranked as the number one golfer for more than 64 weeks in total. This is the longest any golfer has held the top spot on the list.
Johnson has been remarkably successful during the lifetime of his career, including in the World Golf Championships. In fact, only Tiger Woods has won more than Johnson in the Championships.
Johnson has won a total of $70 million in the form of prize money. He is known to be the third highest-paid athlete in the golf world.
Who Makes the Most Money in Endorsements?
- LeBron James is the highest-paid NBA player with endorsements worth $65 million.
- Kevin Durant is one of the highest-paid endorsement athletes, earning almost $45 million from brands.
- Stephen Curry also tops the list of athletes with the most endorsements at $40 million.
- Russell Westbrook has one of the highest-paid endorsements an NBA player can get at $26 million.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo has the highest-paid celebrity endorsements of $25 million.
- Zion Williamson has endorsements with global brands worth $20 million.
- Conor McGregor falls first in the top 10 highest paid endorsements earning $158 million.
- Most of Roger Federer’s income is made solely from endorsements, making a total of $90 million from brand deals alone.
Overall, as we have seen here, athletes are some of the highest-paid people in the world. However, it’s not easy for them. These large sums are justified by the athletes’ hard work and dedication to their sports and teams.
We hope this list of the top 20 richest athletes has taught you something or inspired you to work as hard as them doing what you love.
1. Which sport has the highest salary?
Basketball is the world’s highest-paid sport. NBA players earn the most amount of money compared to athletes in other sports.
2. Is LeBron James a billionaire?
In his 18-year career, LeBron James has earned over $1 billion. Coupled with his salary of $400 million and more than $600 million off-court earnings, he is extremely rich.
However, he is not a billionaire, according to Forbes. After taxes, expenses, and investment returns, his net worth is approximately $850 million.
3. Who is the richest sports player of 2021?
Currently, the richest sports player of 2021 is Conor McGregor, earning $180 million this year alone.