These are the world’s highest paid athletes


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When it comes to the highest paid athletes in the world, I assumed that soccer players would dominate the list. And they do with 4 of the top 5 spots.

Interestingly, I found that NBA players hold 6 out of the top 17 spots for the highest overall earnings in 2022.

The list also includes 4 football players, 1 tennis player, 1 golfer, and 1 boxer.

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17. Josh Allen

Sport: Football

2022 Total Earnings: $67M

Age: 26

Years as a professional athlete: 4

2022 earnings from endorsements: $4M

Estimated Total Career Earnings: ~$100M

Allen’s base salary of $4M got a bump in 2022 from a $42.4M option bonus. The Buffalo Bills quarterback was drafted in 2018 with an annual salary of $5.3M.

In 2021, he signed a 6-year contract with the Bills guaranteeing him $150M in salary earnings during that term.

Related: A ranking of the best sports cities in the US

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16. Tiger Woods

Sport: Golf

2022 Total Earnings: $68M

Age: 46

Years as a professional athlete: 27

2022 earnings from endorsements: $68M

Estimated Total Career Earnings: $1.7B

Less than 10% of his total career earnings comes from playing golf. In 2022, he made an estimated $40K from golf in two tournaments and $68M in endorsement earnings.

According to The Sporting News, he is the second highest paid athlete of all time behind Michael Jordan.

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15. Aaron Rodgers

Sport: Football

2022 Total Earnings: $68M

Age: 38

Years as a professional athlete: 18

2022 earnings from endorsements: $11M

Estimated Total Career Earnings: $350M

Rodgers has been the starting NFL quarterback for the Green Bay Packers since 2008. He is a Super Bowl Champion, Super Bowl MVP, and 4x NFL MVP.

He holds the NFL’s highest paid salary for the 2022 season at over $50 million.

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14. Matthew Stafford

Sport: Football

2022 Total Earnings: $72.3M

Age: 34

Years as a professional athlete: 13

2022 earnings from endorsements: $2.5M

Estimated Total Career Earnings: $260+

Stafford’s yearly income for 2022 skyrocketed with the contract renewal for the NFL Rams. The contract guaranteed $63M at signing.

This large jump in his income comes after winning his first-ever Superbowl during his first season with the Rams in 2022.

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13. James Harden

Sport: Basketball

2022 Total Earnings: $74.4M

Age: 33

Years as a professional athlete: 12

2022 earnings from endorsements: $30M

Estimated Total Career Earnings: $560M

Harden currently plays for the Philadelphia 76ers, though he is most known for his seasons playing for the Houston Rockets. While in Houston, Harden achieved the MVP award and broke several scoring records.

He holds endorsements from Adidas, Beats Electronic, BodyArmor, and State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance.

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12. Russell Westbrook

Sport: Basketball

2022 Total Earnings: $79.2M

Age: 34

Years as a professional athlete: 14

2022 earnings from endorsements: $45M

Estimated Total Career Earnings: $450M+

A 9x All-NBA Team member, Westbrook currently plays for the L.A. Lakers. He launched a unisex apparel brand called Honor the Gift in 2016. In 2021, he produced the film Tulsa Burning: The 1921 Race Massacre which was nominated for a Primetime Emmy.

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11. Giannis Antetokounmpo

Sport: Basketball

2022 Total Earnings: $80.9M

Age: 27

Years as a professional athlete: 9

2022 earnings from endorsements: $41M

Estimated Total Career Earnings: $288M

Antetokounmpo is one of the highest awarded NBA players of all time with 2 consecutive MVP awards, Defensive Player of the Year award, and 6x NBA All-Star, among many others.

His sponsors include Nike, JBL, and Anheuser Busch.

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10. Tom Brady

Sport: Football

2022 Total Earnings: $83.9M

Age: 45

Years as a professional athlete: 22

2022 earnings from endorsements: $52M

Estimated Total Career Earnings: $475M

After a 40-day retirement in February 2022, the famous quarterback returned to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and still made the top 10 highest earners for the year.

Brady is the highest-paid player in NFL history with over $475M in career earnings. However, his annual salary ranks 16th in the NFL for the 2022-2023 season.

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9. Canelo Alvarez

Sport: Boxing

2022 Total Earnings: $90M

Age: 32

Years as a professional athlete: 17

2022 earnings from endorsements: $5M

Estimated Total Career Earnings: $170M+

If this list were based on earnings per professional appearance, Canelo Alvarez would be at the top of the list. Over just 7 fights, Alvarez has earned $115M, $70M in 2 fights versus Gennady Golovin in 2017 and 2018. And that doesn’t include the commission percentage from PPV.

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8. Roger Federer

Sport: Tennis

2022 Total Earnings: $90.7M

Age: 41

Years as a professional athlete: 24

2022 earnings from endorsements: $90M

Estimated Total Career Earnings: $1.1B

Federer retired after the 2022 season during which he made $70K on the court and $90M from endorsements. That is the highest endorsement earnings of any athlete in 2022.

He ended his 24-year career with over $1.1 Billion in estimated total gross earnings.

This Swiss tennis player is the 10th highest earning athlete in the world of all time.

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7. Kevin Durant

Sport: Basketball

2022 Total Earnings: $92.1M

Age: 34

Years as a professional athlete: 15

2022 earnings from endorsements: $50M

Estimated Total Career Earnings: ~$650M

With endorsement deals from Nike and Foot Locker, Durant has been one of the highest paid athletes in the world for several years.

He holds the title of the youngest player to ever lead the NBA in scoring during his rookie season at 19 years old.

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6. Stephen Curry

Sport: Basketball

2022 Total Earnings: $92.8M

Age: 34

Years as a professional athlete: 13

2022 earnings from endorsements: $47M

Estimated Total Career Earnings: ~$680M

Curry is one of the highest paid basketball players with over $40 million in annual salary. He has consistently been on the top 10 highest earning athletes since 2017.

Curry holds the record for most 3-pointers in NBA history, including 402 in a single season.

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5. Neymar Jr.

Sport: Soccer

2022 Total Earnings: $95M

Age: 30

Years as a professional athlete: 13

2022 earnings from endorsements: $25M

Estimated Total Career Earnings: ~$610M

Neymar Jr. is another Paris Saint-Germain player in the top 5 highest paid athletes in the world, along with teammates Messi and Mbappe. This is his fourth year on the top 10 highest paid athletes list.

Neymar signed an extension with the team until 2025 with hefty performance bonuses.

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4. Cristiano Ronaldo

Sport: Soccer

2022 Total Earnings: $115M

Age: 37

Years as a professional athlete: 20

2022 earnings from endorsements: $55M

Estimated Total Career Earnings: $1B+

The news around Ronaldo these days focuses on how little he is playing. Article after article discusses how he is more of a spectator than a player this season. However, he still sits in the top 5 of highest earning athletes for the year and 5th highest earning athlete of all time.

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3. LeBron James

Sport: Basketball

2022 Total Earnings: $121M

Age: 37

Years as a professional athlete: 19

2022 earnings from endorsements: $80M

Estimated Total Career Earnings: $1.1B

James has boasted as the top 5 on the Forbes List of Highest Paid Athletes since 2020 and top 10 in 2012. He bypasses other NBA players with higher salaries in total income due to his endorsements.

According to The Sporting News, he is the 7th highest paid athlete of all time.

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2. Kylian Mbappe

Sport: Soccer

2022 Total Earnings: $128M

Age: 23

Years as a professional athlete: 6

2022 earnings from endorsements: $18M

Estimated Total Career Earnings: $209.5M

Kylian Mbappe finalized his contract after Forbes published their list of top paid athletes for 2022.

Mbappe’s renewed contract with Paris Saint-Germain will give him the highest salary for an athlete in the world, earning over $100M/year. At 23, he is the youngest soccer player to reach this milestone.

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1. Lionel Messi

Sport: Soccer

2022 Total Earnings: $130M

Age: 35

Years as a professional athlete: 19

2022 earnings from endorsements: $55M

Estimated Total Career Earnings: >$1B

Messi has been on the Forbes list top 5 highest paid athletes since 2014. According to The Sporting News, he is the 8th highest paid athlete of all time. He has over $1 Billion in lifetime earnings from his salary and endorsements.

Messi comes in second after Canelo Alvarez for 2022 earnings from salary/winnings at $75M.

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