Welcome, sports fans! The world of professional athletics is a competitive one, with top athletes commanding huge salaries and endorsement deals. But who reigns supreme as the highest-paid athlete in 2022?
These professionals come from a variety of sports and backgrounds, but they all have one thing in common: they are well compensated for their efforts. We will go over each athlete’s background and accomplishments in their sport. So, without further ado, let us begin!
Who Are the Highest-Paid Athletes in 2022?
Athletes are unquestionably among the highest-paid people on the planet. Indeed, some of them command salaries that would make even the most successful CEO envious. With a new year comes a new crop of the highest-paid athletes, so let’s take a look at our list of the highest-paid athletes at the moment.
1. Lionel Messi – Soccer
Source: The Mirror
Salary: $75 million
Endorsements: $55 million
Total: $130 million
Lionel Messi is one of the greatest legends the game has ever seen, and a player still going strong even at the age of 35. Born and raised in Argentina, he joined FC Barcelona at the age of 13 and quickly rose through the ranks, becoming one of the world’s most talented players.
He was named FIFA World Player of the Year in 2012 and has won the prestigious award six times. Messi has also led FC Barcelona to numerous victories, including ten La Liga championships and four UEFA Champions League crowns.
He has been a generous philanthropist, donating millions of dollars to charitable causes in addition to his on-field accomplishments.
With all of his achievements, it is no surprise that Messi will be the world’s highest-paid athlete and soccer player in 2022. His impressive salary with PSG, various endorsement deals, and business ventures all contribute to his massive earnings.
2. Lebron James – Basketball
Salary: $41.2 million
Endorsements: $80 million
Total: $121.2 million
LeBron James is one of the world’s most popular athletes, earning an estimated $121.2 million in 2022. James, who was born and raised in Akron, Ohio, began his professional career in 2003 with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
He quickly established himself as one of the league’s most dominant players, winning Rookie of the Year and leading the Cavaliers to their first-ever appearance in the NBA Finals in 2007. James made headlines in 2010 when he formed the Miami Heat with fellow All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Before James returned to Cleveland in 2014, the trio won two NBA championships together. The Los Angeles Lakers star has four NBA MVPs and is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, so it’s no surprise he’s the second-highest-paid professional athlete.
3. Cristiano Ronaldo – Soccer
Salary: $60 million
Endorsements: $55 million
Total: $115 million
Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the world’s highest-paid athletes, with an estimated $115 million in 2022. For over a decade, the Portuguese soccer star has been a global icon, receiving numerous awards for his abilities on the field and sporting a fierce rivalry with Lionel Messi.
In addition to his club career with Manchester United, Real, Juventus, and the Portuguese national team, Ronaldo has had great success with endorsements, making him one of the most marketable athletes in the world. While these numbers are certainly impressive, it’s important to remember that Ronaldo is one of the world’s most famous athletes, and his earnings reflect that.
4. Neymar – Soccer
Salary: $70 million
Endorsements: $25 million
Total: $95 million
Neymar is a Brazilian professional footballer who currently plays as a forward for the French club Paris Saint-Germain and the Brazilian national team. He is widely regarded as one of the world’s best players and will be the world’s fourth highest-paid male athlete in 2022.
Neymar, who was born in Mogi das Cruzes, began playing football at a young age and moved to Sao Paulo in 2003 to join Santos FC. He helped Santos win the Campeonato Paulista in 2010 before joining Barcelona in 2013. He became a key player for Barcelona, scoring numerous goals and winning trophies such as the UEFA Champions League in 2014-15.
In 2017, he joined Paris Saint-Germain for a world record transfer fee of €222 million. Neymar’s success in Paris wasn’t quite on par with his time in Barca, but he still won multiple titles and individual awards. He is also one of the world’s most marketable athletes, with numerous endorsement deals.
5. Stephen Curry – Basketball
Salary: $45.8 million
Endorsements: $47 million
Total: $92.8 million
To many, Stephen Curry is unquestionably one of the best players in the history of the NBA. Born in 1988, he was drafted by the Golden State Warriors in 2009 and immediately established himself as one of the team’s most valuable players.
He is not only one of the best basketball players in the world but also one of the most marketable ones. Stephen Curry is undeniably one of the world’s richest athletes, thanks to both his incredible abilities and an endearing, down-to-earth personality.
Curry led the Warriors to five NBA championships, was named NBA Most Valuable Player twice, and set numerous league records during his eleven seasons with the team. He will be among the highest-paid NBA players ever in 2022, and we say he’s well earned it!
6. Kevin Durant – Basketball
Source: CODE Sports
Salary: $42.1 million
Endorsements: $50 million
Total: $92.1 million
Kevin Durant is a professional basketball player for the Brooklyn Nets and the world’s sixth-highest-paid athlete in 2022. Durant, a ten-time All-Star player, has two NBA Championships and three Olympic gold medals to his name. He is also a two-time NBA Finals MVP and the 2014 NBA MVP.
Durant is a prolific scorer who has averaged more than 27 points per game throughout his career. He has established himself as a successful businessman in addition to his on-court success. Nike, Beats by Dre, and American Family Insurance are among his more prominent sponsors.
35V, an investment fund he founded in 2016, has backed companies such as Postmates and Acorns. Kevin Durant is one of the world’s wealthiest athletes, with an estimated net worth of over $200 million.
7. Roger Federer – Tennis
Source: Town & Country Magazine
Salary: $0.7 million
Endorsements: $90 million
Total: $90.7 million
Roger Federer is a tennis player from Switzerland. With twenty Grand Slam singles titles, he is the third most successful male player in history, trailing only Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal in the number of Grand Slam titles in one of the highest-paid sports in 2022. He also has the most Wimbledon singles titles (eight) of any male player in history.
He has also won one Olympic gold medal and two Davis Cup titles. Federer has held the ATP world number one ranking for 310 weeks, the second-longest streak of any male tennis player since 1973, trailing only Novak Djokovic.
Even in retirement, Federer is one of the world’s highest-paid athletes, with endorsement contracts with Nike, Rolex, and Wilson. He is expected to be the seventh highest-paid athlete in the world in 2022, earning $90.7 million.
8. Canelo Alvarez – Boxing
Salary: $85 million
Endorsements: $5 million
Total: $90 million
Canelo Alvarez is currently the world’s eighth highest-paid sports player, with a reported $90 million in 2022 earnings. For over a decade, the Mexican boxer has been one of the sport’s biggest names, winning multiple world championships in various weight classes.
Alvarez made his professional debut at age 15 after being born and raised in the boxing hotbed of Guadalajara. He quickly rose through the junior welterweight ranks, eventually winning his first world title in 2008. Since then, Alvarez has established himself as one of the best boxers in the world, winning titles at middleweight, super middleweight, and light heavyweight.
Aside from his ring success, Alvarez has been a huge draw for pay-per-view audiences, having headlined some of boxing’s most prominent events in recent years.
He is, without a doubt, one of the biggest names in sports, and it’s no surprise that he’s one of the world’s highest-paid athletes.
9. Tom Brady – American Football
Salary: $31.9 million
Endorsements: $52 million
Total: $83.9 million
Tom Brady is expected to be the ninth highest-paid athlete in 2022, earning $83.9 million in total. The 45-year-old quarterback is currently under contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Brady has had an illustrious career, winning seven Super Bowls and being named MVP five times.
The NFL star is widely regarded as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, and his success has earned him a high salary. Brady also earns a lot of money through endorsements and appearance fees, which has earned him a spot on the list of Forbes’ highest-paid athletes.
He has endorsement deals with well-known companies like Under Armour, UGG, and Aston Martin.
Even though Brady’s salary will inevitably go down as he gets older, he will still be among the sport’s all-time greats and his marketing value, much like with Roger Federer, is unlikely to drop much in the years to come.
10. Giannis Antetokounmpo – Basketball
Salary: $39.9 million
Endorsements: $41 million
Total: $80.9 million
Giannis Antetokounmpo (nicknamed “The Greek Freak”) is a professional basketball player for the Milwaukee Bucks. With $80.9 million in earnings for 2022, he is the world’s ninth top-paid athlete.
Born in Athens, Greece, the 6’11” forward began playing basketball at a young age. He quickly established himself as a talented player and was signed by the Bucks in 2013. Since then, he has been named an All-Star six times and the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2019 and 2020 while also becoming the owner of the most expensive NBA contract at one point.
He has helped lead the Bucks to the playoffs on multiple occasions, including a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2019, before finally winning the NBA championship in 2021.
Giannis is one of the most exciting players in the NBA, and his unique combination of size and skill elevates him to the ranks of the world’s best. Expect him to continue to dominate the court for many years to come.
Who Is the Highest-Paid Female Athlete?
According to Sportico and Forbes, the highest-paid female athlete in 2022 is tennis player Naomi Osaka, with total earnings of $53.2 million. Following closely behind is fellow tennis player Serena Williams at $35.3 million.
Naomi Osaka – Tennis
Source: Japan Times
Salary: $1.2 million
Endorsements: $52 million
Total: $53.2 million
Osaka’s earnings are primarily derived from endorsements with companies such as Nike, Mastercard, and Nissan. Osaka’s on-court success also contributes to her impressive earnings; she won the 2019 Australian Open and the 2020 US Open, and was at one point ranked first in the world by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA).
Serena Williams – Tennis
Salary: $0,3 million
Endorsements: $35 million
Total: $35.3 million
The tennis legend Serena Williams, the second highest-paid female athlete, continues to make a lot of money off the court, thanks to endorsement deals with PepsiCo, Beats Electronics, and JPMorgan Chase.
In 2018, she also launched her own clothing line, “S by Serena.” She is regarded as one of the best female athletes ever, having won 23 Grand Slam singles titles and four Olympic gold medals.
Both Osaka and Williams have used their platforms as top athletes to advocate for social justice issues. Osaka has spoken out against police brutality against Black people and used her match attire at the US Open to honor victims of violence.
Williams has advocated for equal pay for female athletes and promoted women’s entrepreneurship through her investment firm, Serena Ventures.
Who Is the Highest Paid Athlete of All Time?
When it comes to sports, there are always athletes who stand out from the crowd. They inevitably seem to make the big plays and come through in crunch time. They are also the ones who are paid the most.
But, even among them, a select few become all-time legends, known universally across the world, even by people who are not into sports. And here, one man stands above everyone else.
Michael Jordan – Basketball
Net worth: $2.2 billion
It’s none other than NBA legend Michael Jordan. The Chicago Bulls star was known for his incredible skill and competitive drive during his playing days. He was also well-known for his lucrative endorsement deals.
Jordan is, in fact, the first NBA player to become a billionaire. He remains one of the world’s most famous athletes, and his endorsement deals continue to flow in.
As a result, Jordan’s net worth is estimated to be $2.2 billion as of November 2022, placing him on top of the richest athletes in the world.
Top Paid Athletes: The Bottom Line
These elite athletes have established themselves not only as talented performers on their respective playing fields but also as savvy business people capable of securing lucrative deals off the court as well.
Although some may get off this list or switch places on it in the coming years, they will remain close to the top and be regarded as legends in their respective sports.
Who is the highest-paid athlete in the world?
According to Forbes’ highest-paid athletes list, Lionel Messi will be the highest-paid player in the world in 2022.
Who are the 3 billionaire athletes?
In 2022, Tiger Woods became one of only three billionaire athletes in the world, joining LeBron James and Michael Jordan.
Who is the richest retired athlete?
In 2022, Michael Jordan is projected to have a net worth of $2.2 billion, making him the wealthiest retired athlete in the world.