Top 10 Highest-Paid Athletes in 2022

Lionel Messi
via Месси Лионель / CC-BY-2.0

Earnings for the elite sportsmen have been on an upward trajectory. In particular, the collective wealth of the most affluent athletes has touched the $1billion mark in the past 12 months.

There have certainly been plenty of movers and shakers, but one noticeable trend is that the carefully curated list predominantly features NBA stars.

But who has broken into the world’s top 10? This list shines a light on the biggest earners, which covers the period May 2021 to May 2022.

So, without further ado, let’s run through the most affluent stars, from top to bottom.

Lionel Messi (soccer), $130million

Topping this prestigious list is none other than Lionel Messi. The Paris Saint-Germain has had an indelible impact on the soccer scene ever since he burst onto the scene about two decades ago.

Messi boasts an impressive endorsement portfolio, which includes Adidas and Budweiser. In becoming a Hard Rock ambassador, Messi equaled his arch nemesis Cristiano Ronaldo for off-the-field earnings.

While things didn’t quite go according to plan last season from a personal point of view as he struck just nine times in 32 appearances for Paris Saint-Germain, he still captured the Ligue 1 title in his debut season with the club.

LeBron James
via Keith Allison / CC-BY-2.0

LeBron James (NBA), $121.2 million

Arguably the GOAT (Greatest of All Time), NBA star LeBron James has gone from strength to strength off the floor. Indeed, he earned nearly double off the court ($80 million).

The Los Angeles Lakers star may have been absent at this season’s playoffs, but he has been dabbling in movies and he also has a talk show, The Show, which is now available on YouTube.

There have been plenty of other business investments, and at the age of 37, he shows no signs of slowing down.

Cristiano Ronaldo (soccer), $115 million

Cristiano Ronaldo usually features quite prominently in the soccer markets at the most reputable US betting sites, and that is mainly due to his insatiable appetite for scoring goals.

The Manchester United striker may have had a disappointing campaign as his side failed to pick up a trophy and finished outside of the top four. However, the Portuguese superstar has amassed millions of followers on social media platforms Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and this has given him leverage for his agent to demand whopping rates from sponsors.

Among his sponsors, includes Nike, Herbalife, and Clear shampoo, and despite off-the-field speculation over his United future, Ronaldo has brushed that to one side.

Neymar (soccer), $95million

Neymar is one of these soccer players who court criticism, but his full focus will be on the World Cup in Qatar later this year.

The Brazilian’s on-the-field earnings may outstrip his pay packet off it, but he has some rather tidy endorsements from Puma and Red Bulls. And he has already thrown himself into the world of NFTs which has proved to be quite lucrative.

Steph Curry (NBA), $95million

An indispensable part of the Golden State Warriors roster, Steph Curry is the richest player in the NBA when it comes to salary. And when you consider that he is due for a pay rise after signing a bumper $215million four-year extension last summer, Curry’s earnings will only continue to soar.

Curry — who was named the NBA Finals MVP after his exploits against the Boston Celtics — has been heavily involved in the world of NFTs, and his production company put pen to paper on a deal with Comcast NBC Universal last year.

Kevin Durant (NBA), $92.1 million

Kevin Durant is a huge asset to the NBA, and his off-court endorsements would suggest so. Only LeBron James ($32million) has a bigger sneaker deal with Nike than Durant ($28million), and Durant has been active within NFTs as well as launching a digital fitness start-up company.

While Durant will be fondly remembered for his achievements with the Warriors, he will be hoping to rip it up with the Nets next season.

Roger Federer
via si.robi / CC-BY.20

Roger Federer (tennis), $90.7million

While injuries have curtailed his involvement over the past 12 months, Roger Federer has throes of fans worldwide. And he’s still getting plenty of bucks off the court – $90million to be precise!

The Swiss legend is still raking in huge deals with Uniqlo and Rolex, and he has also been trying to push his shoe brand On forward.

While there have been fears that Federer’s illustrious playing career is winding down, tennis fans will be hoping he doesn’t hang up his racquet just yet.

Canelo Alvarez (boxing), $90million

Multi-weight world champion Canelo Alvarez is widely considered to be one of the greatest boxers of his generation. The Mexican may have suffered a shock defeat to Dmitry Bivol in May, but he’s top billing for his fights in Las Vegas.

Indeed, Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin are set to go toe-to-toe to complete their explosive trilogy in Sin City. Perhaps the winner of that one will spend some time celebrating by visiting a luxury casino on the strip based on research at casivo.

Tom Brady (NFL), $83.9million

Although Tom Brady’s retirement was short-lived, lasting just six months, the 43-year-old produced some incredible displays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

But off the field, Brady has continued to be a financial powerhouse. His production company has been working on a special movie entitled 80 for Brady, and when he does eventually call time on his career, he looks set to swap gridiron for the commentary booth providing expert analysis for Fox Sports. The deal is set to see him earn $375 million over 10 years, which eclipses what he has earned from 22 seasons in the NFL.

Giannis Antetokounmpo
via Erik Drost / CC-BY-2.0

Giannis Antetokounmpo (NBA), $80.9million

Giannis Antetokounmpo is the youngest athlete on this list, but the huge contract that he signed in December 2020 with the Milwaukee Bucks means he is unlikely to fall out of the top 10 anytime soon. Away from the court, Antetokounmpo is certainly a busy man. He has signed an NFT licensing deal and a sporting biopic entitled Rise, is now available to watch on Disney+.