The 10 Highest Paid Athletes in the World

There has never been a better time to be a top athlete in your sport or key player in a popular team sport. Money from TV rights is fuelling massive increases in player salaries across basketball, American football, golf, and soccer.

Here at PledgeSports, we have crunched the numbers to give you the current Top 10 Richest Athletes in the world – apologies in advance for making you feel poor!

1. Floyd Mayweather

Earnings: $200m +

richest athletes

Back at the top of the pile since his last outing in 2015 against Manny Paquiao, Floyd has earned himself a whopping $200 million plus extra endorsements for his bout with UFC superstar Conor McGregor. The Super Fight took place in August of 2017, and ranked among one of the most watched boxing events ever. Mayweather cashed in and defeated McGregor in the latter rounds, a win that seen Floyd reach the iconic 50-0.

2. Conor McGregor

Earnings: $105m

richest athletes

Conor McGregor talked the talk and eventually walked the walk, Mayweather and himself lifted a very nice pay day last summer when the two men put on a super show. McGregor always knew this was a win win scenario we he announced he would leave the octagon for the boxing ring. When would the Irishman ever get the chance to fight of the greatest of all-time again? Probably never! With the huge sponsorship deals and purse on the night, McGregor now earned more than Cristiano Ronaldo in 2017, something that Conor has promised he would do for a long time.

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3. Cristiano Ronaldo

Earnings: $93m

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The Portuguese international had a stellar 2016 with both club and country, lifting the Champions League with Real Madrid in May before captaining his country to European glory at the Euros in the summer.

On a personal level, he broke the 50-goal mark for the sixth successive season with Madrid, warranting a contract worth $50 million per year plus bonuses.

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Throw in his fourth Balon D’Or and it’s not hard to see why Cristiano Ronaldo was the highest earning athlete of last year. He’s the world’s most popular athlete with over 200 million social media followers, helping him land head-to-toe sponsorships including Nike, Tag Heuer, Sacoor Brothers suits and Monster headphones.

4. LeBron James

Earnings: $86.2m



LeBron last ranked in the top 10 in 2014 just after winning back-to-back NBA championships in Miami.

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Since then he has earned three All-Star honours, gone to two NBA Finals and cemented his place as one of the all-time basketball greats by leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to overcome a 3-1 series deficit and win Cleveland’s first professional sports championship in over 50 years.

“The King” James has been signed to Nike since he was a baby-faced teen. Pair that with a Coke endorsement and it seems his bank account will be near billions in the black for the foreseeable future.

5. Lionel Messi

Earnings: $80m


He has won the FIFA player of the year award five times and his playing contract is loaded with bonuses for such feats, which help make him one of the highest-paid on the pitch. In a twist of events, a Spanish court found Messi guilty of tax fraud in July 2016.

The Argentine captain was sentenced to 21 months in prison, although he almost certainly will serve the time as probation instead of behind bars.

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6. Roger Federer

Earnings: $64m


Roger Federer’s 16-year streak of Grand Slam appearances ended at 65 in May 2016 when a back problem caused him to pulled out of the French Open.

He remains the top player off the court with $60 million in earnings from deals with blue-chip companies like Nike, Rolex. Mercedes-Benz and Credit Suisse.

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Federer has won $98 million in prize money during his 18-year career, most recently topping up his earnings with a victory over Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open earlier this year.

7. Kevin Durant

Earnings: $60.6m


Durant shocked the sports world when he left Oklahoma City to sign a two-year contract with the Golden State Warriors in July.

KD launched his own underwear line last year in partnership with Neff and Foot Locker, but his big money deal is with Nike, which signed Durant to an extension in 2014 worth as much as $300 million over 10 years.

8. Rory McIlroy


Earnings: $50m

The Northern Irish golfer and world number two is the only golfer to feature in the top 10 this year following a lucrative spell for the 28-year-old on and off the course.

McIlroy signed a 10-year extension with Nike last year and more recently negotiated a multi-million dollar agreement with equipment manufacturer TaylorMade, complementing big-money victories on the PGA Tour towards the end of 2016 such as the Tour Championship and the $10 million FedEx Cup bonus.

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9. Andrew Luck

NFL: Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts

Earnings: $50m

The Indianapolis Colts QB’s place on the list is due in large part to the contract he signed in the summer of 2016. The five-year, $123 million extension Luck signed called for $47 million in guaranteed money due at signing, which pushed his value up last year (Luck’s base salary in 2016 was $12 million).

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10. Stephen Curry


Earnings: $47.3m

The Warriors’ talismanic point guard makes the Forbes list for the first time following an extension in his deal with Under Armour and contract with the Golden State outfit.

On the court Curry has resumed his best form, leading the Warriors to another NBA finals where they currently hold a 3-0 lead over LeBron’s Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Houston Rockets shooting guard is a godsend for marketers, with his trademark beard making its way across social media platforms, t-shirts and other apparel on its way to becoming an iconic symbol. Harden recently signed a $200m deal with Adidas, giving his bank account the boost it needed to make the top 10.

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Source: Forbes

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