LeBron James Leads Highest-Paid Athletes on Sportico List

  • LeBron James topped Sportico’s list of highest-paid athletes when factoring in salary and endorsements.
  • James made $ 126.9 million and was followed by Lionel Messi at $ 122 million.
  • Seven of the top 10 highest earners consisted of basketball or soccer players.

Men’s basketball and soccer players dominate a new Sportico list of the highest-paid athletes in the world.

The list uses salaries and professional winnings on the court and field, plus estimates on what athletes earn in endorsements, licensing, appearances, and ownership stakes.

Lakers superstar LeBron James tops the list, with an estimated $ 126 million in earnings, with $ 90 million in endorsements and money made off the court. Meanwhile, Matthew Stafford led all NFL players ($ 73.3 million), while Angels slugger Mike Trout ranks 24th, earning $ 49.5 million. No NHL players cracked the Top 100, as the hockey league’s highest-paid player is Oilers center Connor McDavid, who earned $ 15 million in 2021.

Two women — Naomi Osaka (20th) and Serena Williams (52nd) – earned spots on the list. Osaka made $ 52 million of her $ 53.2 million in endorsements, while Williams made $ 35.3 million, only $ 300,000 of which came in winnings.

Here’s a breakdown of the top 10 on Sportico’s list:

1. LeBron James – $ 126.9 million

Sports: NBA player

Age: 37

Breakdown Earnings: $ 36.9 million in salary / winnings, $ 90 million in endorsements

One thing to know: James not only has a lengthy list of endorsements, but he owns a massive shoe deal with Nike, a stake in Red Sox and Liverpool FC parent company Fenway Sports Group, and his SpringHill Company, plus equity in 1707 Lobos tequila and Calm.

2. Lionel Messi – $ 122 million

Sports: Soccer player

Age: 34

Breakdown Earnings: $ 72 million in salary / winnings, $ 50 million in endorsements

One thing to know: Messi hasn’t played up to his usual standards since making his gigantic move to PSG, but that hasn’t stopped his earning power. It’s been reported that he’ll have the chance to extend his current two-year contract before it expires.

Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United looks on during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Norwich City at Old Trafford

Cristiano Ronaldo.

Getty / Simon Stacpoole


3. Cristiano Ronaldo – $ 115 million

Sports: Soccer player

Age: 37

Breakdown Earnings: $ 60 million in salary / winnings, $ 55 million in endorsements

One thing to know: Ronaldo hasn’t slowed down on the pitch, as he’s reached 30 total goals across play with Manchester United and Portugal.

4. Neymar – $ 103 million

Sports: Soccer player

Age: 30

Breakdown Earnings: $ 65 million in salary / winnings, $ 38 million in endorsements

One thing to know: The PSG forward is racking up endorsements, recently announcing a new partnership with e.GO Mobile, an electric car company.

5. Canelo Alvarez – $ 89 million

Sports: Boxer

Age: 31

Breakdown Earnings: $ 84 million in salary / winnings, $ 5 million in endorsements

One thing to know: Alvarez was the world’s top boxer and won three fights in 2021 before losing to Dmitry Bivol last weekend, his first loss since 2013. He still had a guaranteed $ 15 million purse from the fight.

6. Stephen Curry – $ 86.2 million

Sports: NBA player

Age: 34

Breakdown Earnings: $ 41.2 million, $ 45 million

One thing to know: Curry was once underpaid in the NBA, but he’s now the first player to sign back-to-back $ 200 million contracts.

7. Kevin Durant – $ 85.9 million

Sports: NBA player

Age: 33

Breakdown Earnings: $ 37.9 million, $ 48 million

One thing to know: As Sportico noted, Durant has helped build his Thirty Five Ventures into an impressive company with more than 80 investments and 32 full-time employees.

Roger Federer speaks during a press conference in 2020.

Roger Federer.

Dita Alangkara / AP Images


8. Roger Federer – $ 85.7 million

Sports: Tennis player

Age: 40

Breakdown Earnings: $ 724,000 in salary / winnings, $ 84 million in endorsements

One thing to know: Federer hasn’t played since Wimbledon in 2021, but he still racks up endorsement money, a testament to the game’s most beloved player.

9. James Harden – $ 76 million

Sports: NBA player

Age: 32

Breakdown Earnings: $ 40 million in salary / winnings, $ 36 million in endorsements

One thing to know: Harden could climb higher on the next edition of this list if he signs the 4-year, $ 223 million extension he’ll be eligible for next summer.

10. Tiger Woods

Sports: Golf

Age: 46

Breakdown Earnings: $ 8.5 million in salary / winnings, $ 65 million in endorsements

One thing to know: Like Federer, Woods hardly played in 2021, but that didn’t stop him from making eight figures in endorsements. Woods got an $ 8 million bonus from the PGA’s Player Impact Program.

Check out the entire list here>

Leave a Comment