Who are the Highest Paid Sports Stars in the World?

Sports stars today who are at the top of their game earn more money in just a few weeks or months than most can ever dream of earning in a lifetime.

If you have been wondering lately which major global sports stars currently earn the most money in 2024, you’ve come to the right place.

Here are the names of some of today’s highest-paid athletes, many of which are footballers (soccer players), basketball players, boxers, or golfers.

Who are the highest-paid sports stars in 2024?

Interestingly, three of the top five highest-paid sports stars in 2024 are male professional footballers, who you can still watch in action today or place bets on at fully licensed and regulated iGaming sites like the official 10Bet (https://www.10bet.co.za/sports/) online bookmaker – Africa’s number-one iGaming site.

Most of the income these players generate individually comes from their success on the field/pitch/court/green/ or in the ring, from the wagers their respective clubs pay them. The rest comes from shrewd and lucrative sponsorship deals and endorsements outside of their respective sports.

Without further ado, the highest-paid athletes in the world in 2024 are the following legends, many of whom you may already be familiar with by now:

  1. Name: LeBron James. Sport: Basketball (NBA). Age: 39. Salary: $47.61 million (approx.). Net worth: $1 billion (approx.)
  2. Name: Cristiano Ronaldo. Sport: Football (soccer). Age: 39. Salary: $46 million (approx.). Net worth: $500 million (approx.)
  3. Name: Lionel Messi. Sport: Football (soccer). Age: 36. Salary: $25 million (approx.). Net worth: $600 million (approx.)
  4. Name: Canelo Álvarez. Sport: Boxing. Age: 25. Salary:?. Net worth: $275 million (approx.)
  5. Name: Kylian Mbappe. Sport: Football (soccer). Age: 25. Salary: $9 million (approx.). Net worth: $160 million (approx.)

Some of the other top earners in 2024 include Dustin Johnson (Golf), Phil Mickelson (Golf), Stephen Curry (Basketball), Roger Federer (Tennis), and Kevin Durant (Basketball).

That’s not forgetting Joe Burrows (NFL), Tyson Fury (Boxing), Russell Westbrook (Basketball), Lewis Hamilton (Formula 1), Neymar Jr (Football), Novak Djokovic (Tennis), Aaron Rodgers (NFL), Conor McGregor (MMA/UFC), Rory McIlroy (Golf), and Russel Wilson (NFL), to name a few.

Who are considered the highest-paid athletes of all time?

Most of these same sports stars listed above have also made it into the top 50 all-time highest earners in the sporting world, with inflation-adjusted earnings included.

The iconic NBA basketball star Michael Jordan is at the top of the list with $3.75 billion ($2.7 billion non-adjusted earnings).

At number 2 on the list with $2.66 billion in career earnings ($1.85 billion non-adjusted earnings) is golfer Tiger Woods. You then have footballer Cristiano Ronaldo with $1.92 billion ($1.85 billion non-adjusted earnings) and golfer Arnold Palmer with $1.76 billion ($1.57 billion non-adjusted earnings).

Others include NBA star LeBron James with $1.7 billion ($1.3 billion non-adjusted earnings), golfer Jack Nicklaus with $1.67 billion ($890 million non-adjusted earnings), and footballer Lionel Messi ($1.67 billion ($1.36 billion non-adjusted earnings).

The three other iconic sports stars who have reportedly earned more money than others are football David Beckham, tennis star Roger Federer, and boxer Floyd Mayweather.

Which sport pays the most?

According to statistics, basketball is the number one sport that has paid the most. For example, a total of 12 basketball stars have earned a combined $13 billion throughout their careers.

Next is golf. A total of eight golfers have earned a combined $10.6 billion. Seven boxing legends have earned $5.8 billion between them, and seven racing car drivers have earned a combined $5.5 billion.

You then have tennis at number 5. A total of five tennis stars have earned a combined $4.1 billion. A total of four football (soccer) stars have earned $6.1 billion, and four football (NFL) stars have earned a combined $2.6 billion.

Two baseball stars have earned an incredible $1.4 billion between them, and 1 MMA star has earned $555 million. All earnings are inflation-adjusted.

What about female sports stars?

Don’t forget that this only takes into account the male sports stars. Female sports stars at the top of their games may not earn as much as their male counterparts, but they do still earn millions.

Examples include Iga Swiatek (tennis), Iga Swiatek (freestyle skier), Coco Gauff (tennis), Emma Raducanu (tennis), Naomi Osaka (tennis), Aryna Sabalenka (tennis), and Naomi Osaka (tennis),

That’s not forgetting Venus Williams (tennis), Naomi Osaka (tennis), and Leylah Annie Fernandez (also tennis). As you can see, it pays more to be a top-level tennis star in the female sporting world than any other sport.

Final thoughts

Many of these sports stars, like Michael Jordan, David Beckham, and Cristiano Ronaldo, have become brands themselves, and almost anything they touch turns to gold.

Some also refer to them as ‘influencers.’ They continue making millions each year by promoting numerous major global brands to help bolster their annual earnings long after their sporting careers end.

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