While basketball players continue to dominate the list, a champion boxer holds the title of highest paid athlete of 2018. Here are the 15 athletes who made the cut.
The World’s 15 Highest-Paid Athletes Today
15. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez
Salary/Winnings: $42 Million
Endorsements: $2.5 Million
Since the retirement of Floyd Mayweather Jr., Saul “Canelo” Alvarez has become boxing’s biggest pay-per-view star.
His bouts against Gennady “Triple G” Golovkin and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. both generated over a million pay-per-view buys. Those were the first US boxing matches without either Manny Pacquiao or Mayweather to generate such sales since Lennox Lewis’ knockout win over Mike Tyson back in 2002.
The Mexican pugilist’s fight with Triple G earned him a $42 million paycheck. It had 1.3 million pay-per-view buys on top of a $27 million gate. His sponsors included Under Armour, Hennessy, Everlast and Tecate. A rematch was set in May but was called off after Canelo failed a pre-fight drug test.
14. James Harden
Salary/Winnings: $28.4 Million
Endorsements: $18 Million
The 2017-2018 NBA MVP is known for more than just growing an awesome beard.
James Harden is the 14th highest paid athlete in the world, and the 5th highest paid basketball player today. The 4-year/$169 million contract extension he signed with the Houston Rockets gave him a total 6-year deal worth $228 million. He is also one of the faces of sportswear giant Adidas.
He won the MVP award in the last NBA season after carrying the Rockets to the Western Conference Finals. The Beard finished the 2016-2017 season 2nd in the MVP race.
13. Russell Westbrook
Salary/Winnings: $28.6 Million
Endorsements: $19 Million
After signing an extension that gave him the biggest contract in NBA history, Russell Westbrook is now the 13th highest paid athlete of 2018.
Westbrook recently signed a 5-year/$205 million extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder. This gave him a combined $233 million contract over six years.
Beastbrook has posted monstrous numbers since former teammate Kevin Durant left OKC. He finished the 2016-2017 season averaging double-digit points, assists and rebounds, becoming the first player to achieve the feat since Oscar Robertson back in 1962. To top it off, he finished the following season again averaging a triple-double.
He also signed a new 10-year contract extension with Nike’s Jordan Brand. The Why Not Zero.1 releases in January and is Westbrook’s first performance signature shoe from Jordan.
12. Lewis Hamilton
Sport: Auto Racing
Salary/Winnings: $42 Million
Endorsements: $9 Million
The 33-year old earned a whopping $51 million on the final year of a $120 million 3-year contract extension, making him the 12th highest paid athlete today.
In 2017, he became the 5th Formula 1 driver in history with 4 championships. One of the most marketable drivers in the sport, Hamilton has endorsement deals with Sony, Puma, Monster Energy, Tommy Hilfiger and of course, Mercedes-Benz.
He is expected to sign another three-year deal with Mercedes.
11. Kevin Durant
Salary/Winnings: $25.3 Million
Endorsements: $32 Million
KD has been making a lot of noise recently, with his transfer to the Golden State Warriors.
In his 2-year stay with the Warriors, he helped bring the team to back-to-back championships, securing 2 Finals MVP Awards along the way.
Durant recently signed a 2-year/$61.5 million deal with the defending champions. His annual off-the-court earnings, however, goes up to more than $30 million with endorsement partners like Alaska Airlines, American Family Insurance, Nike and Beats.
With business partner Rich Kleiman, he also launched the Durant Company back in 2016. It now has more than 30 investments in companies such as Postmates, Acorns, and Thirty Five Media.
10. Matthew Stafford
— SideLion Report (@SideLionReport) November 12, 2018
Salary/Winnings: $57.5 Million
Endorsements: $2 Million
The #1 overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft recently inked a 5-year/$135 million contract with the Detroit Lions. Stafford led the NFC in passing yards. He also set an NFL record as the fastest to 3,000 completions in his career. Among other brands, the 30-year old has partnerships with PepsiCo, Ford Motor, and Nike.
9. Matt Ryan
Salary/Winnings: $62.3 Million
Endorsements: $5 Million
Matt Ryan’s recently-signed deal with the Atlanta Falcons makes him the first $30 million-per-year player in the NFL.
Ryan led the league in passing and helped carry the Falcons to the Super Bowl. He also won the 2016 NFL MVP, which helped raise his marketability.
The quarterback’s 5-year extension set new records with a $30 million-average salary, a $150 million-total value, and a $100 million-guaranteed money. He has endorsements with huge brands like Gatorade, Nike, IBM, Mercedes-Benz, and Delta Airlines.
8. Stephen Curry
Salary/Winnings: $34.9 Million
Endorsements: $42 Million
The record-setting, 3-time NBA champion and 2-time MVP signed a $200 million contract with the Golden State Warriors.
He won back-to-back championships alongside Kevin Durant. His salary tripled in the past season.
Curry is an ambassador for brands like Under Armour, Chase, Viva, Nissan/Infiniti, and JBL. Those endorsement deals generate about $42 million for the NBA Superstar.
Curry also has a multi-year production and development deal with Sony Pictures. His recently-formed production company called Unanimous Media is looking to develop and produce family, faith, and sports-related films and television projects.
7. Roger Federer
Salary/Winnings: $12.2 Million
Endorsements: $65 Million
Widely considered as the greatest men’s tennis player of all time, Federer has won a total of $116 million throughout the duration of his career. His off-court earnings, however, dwarf those winnings, making him the 7th highest paid athlete in the world.
He has partnerships with brands like Mercedes-Benz, Lindt, Wilson, Mercedes, Rolex, Moet & Chandon, and many more.
Federer’s 20 Grand Slam singles titles is the most in the history of the sport for a male player.
6. Lebron James
Salary/Winnings: $33.5 Million
Endorsements: $52 Million
3-time NBA Champion, 3-time NBA Finals MVP, 4-time regular season NBA MVP, 9 NBA Finals appearances… The King lives up to his title.
Often compared to Michael Jordan, Lebron’s achievements are definitely legendary. Today, many consider him to be the greatest basketball player in the world.
His achievements go beyond the court, as Lebron holds the NBA’s top endorsement portfolio. He has partnerships with Nike, Beats by Dre, Kia Motor, Coca-Cola, and many more. His investment group also owns 17 franchises of the fast-growing Blaze Pizza. Among the active players of the NBA, his signature sneakers are also the best-selling.
Lebron also owns a production company and a media company on top of his shares in other companies, making him the 6th highest paid athlete in the world, and the highest paid basketball player today.
Recently, The King opened a public school for at-risk students in his hometown of Akron, Ohio – the I Promise School. Its inaugural class includes 240 3rd and 4th grade students. It plans to expand to 1st through 8th grade by 2022. Students who graduate from the program will reportedly receive free tuition at the University of Akron starting in 2021.
James recently left Cleveland for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Salary/Winnings: $73 Million
Endorsements: $17 Million
Brazilian superstar Neymar da Silva Santos Junior recently signed a 5-year deal with Paris Saint-Germain. It totaled $600 million, making him the 5th highest paid athlete today.
The 26-year-old has sponsorships with Nike, McDonald’s, Beats by Dre, Red Bull, and Gilette. Neymar is also set to have his own custom Air Jordan sneakers, making him the first soccer player to don the Jumpman on his cleats.
4. Conor McGregor
Sport: Mixed Martial Arts
Salary/Winnings: $85 Million
Endorsements: $14 Million
“The Notorious” Conor McGregor is the UFC’s biggest star and the 4th highest paid athlete in the world.
Known for his charisma and flair, some dub McGregor as a “marketing genius.” His antics helped him bank $85 million for his fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. It was his biggest payday to date, as it was over five times his previous top paycheck.
The fight generated over 4.3 million pay-per-view buys and more than $550 million in revenues.
Taking advantage of the buzz around the Mayweather fight, McGregor signed numerous deals with various sponsors over the past year. His partners now include Burger King, Monster Energy, BSN, and Beats by Dre, among many others.
3. Cristiano Ronaldo
Salary/Winnings: $61 Million
Endorsements: $47 Million
Given his talent, Ronaldo’s spot on our list of highest paid athletes today does not come as a surprise.
Ronaldo has won a total of 26 trophies throughout his career. He added a fifth Ballon d’Or to his collection alongside a Champions League title this past season. He recently moved to the Italian club Juventus, saying that he felt like he needed a new challenge.
Ronaldo signed a lifetime contract with Nike worth over $1 billion. He also has partnerships with other brands like Herbalife, EA Sports, and American Tourister. His CR7 brand continues to grow as well, with products including fragrance, underwear, jeans, and shoes.
The superstar also has hands in the hotel and restaurant industry.
Ronaldo also has over 300 million social media followers, making him the most popular athlete in the world.
2. Lionel Messi
Salary/Winnings: $84 Million
Endorsements: $27 Million
Lionel Messi is the 2nd highest paid athlete in the world, and not without reason. He finished the 2017-2018 season as the top scoring player in the Top 5 European Leagues.
The FC Barcelona forward earns about $111 million, making him the highest-paid soccer player. He has a lifetime deal with Adidas, as well as partnerships with Gatorade, Pepsi, Ooredoo, Hawkers, and Huawei.
A Messi-inspired theme park called the Messi Experience Park is set to open in Nanjing, China, in 2020.
Messi recently signed a contract extension with FC Barcelona.
1. Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Salary/Winnings: $275 Million
Endorsements: $10 Million
Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. rightfully deserves his nickname as he is the highest paid athlete in the world today.
The 41-year old undefeated champion has generated over 23.8 million pay-per-view buys. Throughout his career, he has attracted revenues of over $1.67 billion, surpassing pay-per-view favorites such as Mike Tyson, Oscar De La Hoya, Evander Holyfield, and Manny Pacquiao.
His recent bout with UFC superstar Conor McGregor earned over $550 million in revenue. He received a total of about $275 million from that fight alone.
In a recent video posted by the champion, Mayweather teased the boxing world and said that he will come out of retirement to fight fan-favorite Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao in December.
Check out this list of the most dominant athletes of the last 20 years from The Herd with Colin Cowherd:
There you have it, gents, the world’s highest paid athletes today. Earning as much as these superstars might be a long shot, but hey, with a little extra hustle, you can earn some extra money on the side that just might get you closer, right?
Do you have some thoughts about these athletes? Share them with us in the comments section below!
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