The Highest Paid Athletes In 2022 

Elle Gellrich

 May 25, 2022

Sport and big money are a combination that goes hand in hand, and it seems that each year the money just gets bigger and bigger. Forbes has completed their annual review of the ten richest sportsmen and women in the world as researched by football news outlet Football Today. We review the highlights here.

1. Lionel Messi – On-Field: $75 Million | Off-Field: $55 Million

The brilliant Argentine who many believe is the greatest player to have ever played the beautiful game, leads the way when it comes to who is the highest-earning athlete in the world.

Due to the financial mess that his former club Barcelona still finds itself in, Messi decided to leave Barcelona and joined the super-rich PSG. In one of the biggest transfers that the world has ever seen, Messi was reportedly paid a stunning $75 Million after-tax making him comfortably the highest-earning football player on the planet. Off-field endorsement deals with the likes of Adidas, Budweiser and Pepsi have all helped Messi rake in millions off the pitch.

2. LeBron James – On-Field: $41.2 Million | Off-Field: $80 Million

Next on the list is the King himself, LeBron James. It’s been a disappointing season on the court for his team the LA Lakers, but the money continues to roll in. Alongside his $41.2 million salaries, the endorsements continued to roll in. James appeared in the remake of SpaceJam as well as selling a stake in his production company. James earnt substantial amounts from his appearance in a Super Bowl commercial as well as being an investor in new home gym company Tonal

3. Cristiano Ronaldo – On-Field: $60 Million | Off-Field: $55 Million

Despite being in the argument for being the world’s greatest ever football player, Cristiano Ronaldo trails his great rival Lionel Messi when it comes to the rich list. Ronaldo has continued to earn vast amounts on the pitch with the new club Manchester United. Off the pitch, Ronaldo is one of the most popular people across social media and his popularity can see him charge huge rates from sponsors such as Nike, Herbalife, and Clear Shampoo.

4. Neymar – On-Field: $70 Million | Off-Field: $25 Million

The second-highest-paid football player in the world, Neymar has continued to bring in the millions. Although his PSG team has had a poor season with regards to their disappointing Champions League season, the pain will quickly be forgotten thanks to endorsement deals with Puma, Red Bull, and the launch of his new documentary that will be aired on Netflix.

5. Steph Curry – On-Field: $45.8 Million | Off-Field: $47 Million

Whilst Steph Curry’s Golden State Warriors teams continue to battle on the court for yet another NBA Championship, Curry continues to earn big money off it. One of the most marketable players in the entire league, Curry has seen his wealth increase thanks to the growth of his production company and venture into NFTs.

6. Kevin Durrant – On-Field: $42.1 Million | Off-Field: $50 Million

The third basketball player within the top 6 and arguably the world’s greatest, Kevin Durrant will want to forget the disaster of a season his Brooklyn Nets team experienced. Despite the pain of the Nets’ early playoff exit, Durrant will be cheered that off the court he has continued to earn big bucks through sponsorship deals with Nike, Coinbase, NBA Topshot, and Weedmaps.

7. Roger Federer – On-Field: $0.7 Million | Off-Field: $90 Million

It’s a sign of the commercial power that Roger Federer still has that he sits in the top ten of the Forbes list despite barely hitting a ball. Federer who is one of the most coveted athletes in the world has enjoyed huge commercial successes thanks to his partnerships with Rolex and Uniqlo. It was also revealed that Federer had a stake in Swiss shoe company ‘On’ – who this year went public raising more than $600 million in funds.

8. Canelo Alvarez – On-Field: $85 Million | Off-Field: $5 Million

Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez has earnt his money the hard way. Arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet, Alvarez has made his vast fortune in the ring. Despite losing his last fight to the explosive Russian Dmitry Bivol, Canelo has managed to add to his wealth thanks to his partnerships with Hennessy and the growth of his own boxing promotion company.

9. Tom Brady – On-Field: $31.9 Million | Off-Field: $52 Million

The GOAT has once again decided to shelve his retirement plans for yet another season as he bids to win an eighth Super Bowl ring. Brady has always been willing to leave money on the table when it comes to earning on the field, which has allowed him the opportunity to attract some of the very best free agents around. However, off the field, the Brady brand continues to grow. Brady has two lucrative production companies and also released his first NFTs. This will likely be Brady’s last season as he has already signed a deal with Fox to be their lead pundit which is set to earn Brady a reported $375 million over ten years.

10. Giannis Antetokounmpo – On-Field: $39.9 Million | Off-Field: $41 Million

The youngest member of the top ten is the Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo. Giannis signed the largest deal in NBA history at the point of signing when he signed a 5-year $228 million deal to stay with Milwaukee.  Antetokounmpo has a growing portfolio off the court and has bought in huge money thanks to endorsement deals with WhatsApp and Google. A biopic showcasing his rise to the NBA will also be released on Disney + later this year.

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