By Alicia Baker
In the world of sport, the people playing at the very top level earn a lot of money. This is true for most of the world’s popular sports. A few of the 10 best-paid sports stars are from outside of America and Europe, but they are all men. So, let’s find out who the top earners are and what they have done to justify their enormous salaries.
1. Floyd Mayweather
Floyd Mayweather has only just retired, but the latest stats show that he was the highest paid sporting athlete in the world. In 2015, he earned $300M. That is more than double the amount of money earned by anyone else on this list. Prize money in boxing is huge, and when you have won as much as Mayweather has, you can get ridiculously rich. He retired undefeated, and that’s quite an achievement. He also won twelve world titles over the course of his entire career.
2. Manny Pacquiao
Both the top two spots go to boxers, showing how lucrative the sport can be at the very top end. Manny Pacquiao is the second-highest paid sportsperson in the world, and the only Asian athlete on this list. He was the first and the only boxer to become an eight-division world champion. In recent times, he has also pursued a political career. But from his boxing work, he earns a staggering $130M. He is now ranked as the best Asian boxer in history as well. You can learn more about his net worth at http://justrichest.com.
3. Cristiano Ronaldo
By now, Cristiano Ronaldo is more than a mere footballer. He is more like a global brand. He is well aware of this fact, and the fact that he gets paid $27M in endorsements says it all. His actual salary is $79.6M, making him the best-paid footballer on the planet. He now plays for Real Madrid after stints at Sporting Lisbon and Manchester United. He is also captain of the Portuguese national team. And in recent times, there was a film made about his life; all at the age of 31.
4. Lionel Messi
The contest between Ronaldo and Messi tends to revolve around which player is the greatest on the planet. But in the contest between which one earns the most, Messi comes a close second. Messi is paid $73.8M. He has been playing for Barcelona all his life, but is originally from Argentina. That makes him the only South American on this list. He is now aiming to close in on another incredible milestone. Last week, he scored his 497th professional goal, and he’s going for 500.
5. Roger Federer
Many would argue that, in terms of quality, Federer has been surpassed by Novak Djokovic. But the Swiss tennis star is still the sport’s highest paid player with $67M. If you go to http://www.skysports.com/tennis, you’ll find out that he has been the sport’s top earner for 9 years in a row. That’s quite an achievement, and he certainly one of the game’s most beloved figures. He is a player who not only wins, but he wins in style. Neither Andy Murray or Djokovic can compete with Federer when it comes to playing the game with flair.
6. LeBron James
Next up is LeBron James, the highest paid player in the National Basketball Association. He plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers and is the team’s all-time leading scorer. He’s also probably the most famous basketball player still playing the sport professionally today. So, how much does he earn? The figure is $64.8M. Of that amount of money, the endorsements make up roughly $44M, making him one of the world’s most highly endorsed sports people. Only Federer and two top golfers get more. LeBron James also does work outside of sport, having started an acting career in recent years.
7. Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant is, like James, a professional basketball player in the NBA. His team is the Oklahoma City Thunder. Earlier this year he was named as NBA Western Conference Player of the Month for January. After an injury-riddled couple of years, he’s now proving himself as one of the very best in the business. At the moment, he earns $54.2M, of which $35M is from endorsements. He’s about four years younger than James though, so there is still time for his salary to catch up as his game improves.
8. Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson is the first professional golfer to appear on this list, making him the highest paid in the sport. There are only 16 golfers to have won three out of the four professional majors. The only one that he is yet to win is the U.S. Open. He’s come second in that tournament a record-breaking six times. He is paid $50.8M, but endorsements are big in golf, so he earns $48M from that and $2.8M in prize money. The fact that he makes more money than Tiger Woods, who we’ll discuss next, says a lot.
9. Tiger Woods
Mickelson only just beat Tiger Woods to eighth place though. Woods earns $50.6M compared to his rival’s $50.8. So, in terms of overall pay, Mickelson is the biggest show in town. But that doesn’t actually tell the whole story. Woods only earns $0.6M in prize money. The vast majority of his money comes from endorsements. This is largely down to the fact that Tiger Woods is the more recognisable face. Everyone could pick him out from a crowd, but you might not be able to say the same about Mickelson.
10. Kobe Bryant
Finally, we have another basketball player to complete this list. Like all the top-earning basketball stars, Kobe Bryant is one of the leading lights of the NBA. He plays for the LA Lakers, the team he has played for all his sporting life. He started out with the Lakers in 1996, and has announced that he will retire at the end of the current seasons. That will make precisely two decades of playing for the same team, and that’s a league record. He earns $49.5M, and $26M of that is from endorsements.