Forbes has dropped its annual list of the world’s highest-paid athletes.
The list is compiled by adding the on-field and off-field earnings to give a total earnings report for the year. Over the past twelve months, the world’s ten highest-paid athletes combined for $992 million in pre-tax gross earnings, which is the third-highest total ever.
Topping the list was none other than soccer star Lionel Messi, who according to the live scores provider Flashscore.com scored a total of 11 goals in the 2021/2022 season for Paris SG, raked in a cool $130 million. Messi earned $75 million on the field during his time with Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain — which won him the 2021 Ballon d’Or award for the world’s best soccer player — while bringing in $55 million thanks to endorsements from companies like Adidas, Budweiser, and Pepsi.
Just behind Messi was Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, who earned $121.2 million. LeBron’s number received a major boost from his off-court endeavors, which included Space Jam: A New Legacy and his popular talk show The Shop, according to Forbes. LeBron also sold a stake of his production company Spring Hill, which has a valuation of $725 million.
Other athletes near the top include Cristiano Ronaldo, Roger Federer, Canelo Alvarez, and Tom Brady.
Who else cracked the top 20?
A full look at the top 20 highest-paid athletes in the world for 2022 can be seen below, via Forbes’ annual list.
The World’s 20 Highest-Paid Athletes 2022
20. Damian Lillard
Total Earnings: $57.4 million
On-Field Earnings: $39.4 million
Off-Field Earnings: $18 million
A bulk of Lillard’s earnings come from his contract with the Portland Trail Blazers which runs through the 2024-25 NBA season and pays an average salary of more than $40 million a year. “Dame”, who raps under the rap name Dame D.O.L.L.A., has a signature shoe line with Adidas that is one of the company’s top NBA sellers.
As a rapper, Lillard has released four studio albums, and his track “Money Ball” was featured on the soundtrack for NBA 2K20.
19. Naomi Osaka
Total Earnings: $59.2 million
On-Field Earnings: $1.2 million
Off-Field Earnings: $58 million
Osaka is the top-earning female athlete on the list and her earnings are largely driven by off-court endorsements with Nike, Louis Vuitton, Airbnb, Workday, and many more. Osaka, who had an off year on the court after winning back-to-back Grand Slams at the 2020 US Open and 2021 Australian Open, was still able to capitalize on her popularity with the endorsements.
Osaka, who was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and a Haitian-American father, was also one of the main faces of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
18. Tyson Fury
Total Earnings: $62 million
On-Field Earnings: $60 million
Off-Field Earnings: $2 million
Fury is a two-time heavyweight boxing world champion who has an undefeated record of 32-0-1 with 23 of his wins coming by knockout.
A majority of the 6-foot-9 Brit’s earnings over the past year came from an estimated $60 million combined for fights against Deontay Wilder and Dillian Whyte.
17. Lewis Hamilton
Total Earnings: $65 million
On-Field Earnings: $57 million
Off-Field Earnings: $8 million
Lewis Hamilton is one of the most popular drivers in F1 and he has had exceptional success on the track, tying Michael Schumacher’s record of seven championships.
Hamilton is one of the top drivers in the sport and is currently signed to Mercedes’ F1 team. As one of the most marketable athletes in the sport, Hamilton has also been able to pick up a plethora of endorsements and has been working with Tommy Hilfiger since 2018.
16. Josh Allen
Total Earnings: $67 million
On-Field Earnings: $63 million
Off-Field Earnings: $4 million
Josh Allen is one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL and signed a six-year contract extension worth $258 million ($150 million guaranteed) with the Buffalo Bills in the summer of August 2021. The contract was the largest in NFL history.
While his on-field earnings are the largest chunk of the money he’s brought in over the past year, he also has high-profile endorsements with companies like Nike, Pepsi, and New Era.
14. Tiger Woods
Total Earnings: $68 million
On-Field Earnings: $40k
Off-Field Earnings: $68 million
Woods was recovering from a serious leg injury suffered in a car wreck back in February 2021, so he was not at the level we are used to seeing when he returned to golf at the Masters in April 2022. However, thanks to an incredible amount of endorsements as the most marketable golfer in the sport, Woods’ earnings did not take a hit.
Most recently, Woods scored a deal with the PGA Tour 2K video game franchise for his name and likeness.
14. Aaron Rodgers
Total Earnings: $68 million
On-Field Earnings: $57 million
Off-Field Earnings: $11 million
In March 2022, Rodgers signed a three-year, $150 million contract extension with the Green Bay Packers after questions about whether he would be returning to the team.
Off of the field, the future Hall of Fame quarterback is a minority owner of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, and a general partner of the $50 million venture and growth stage fund with Roth Capital.
13. Matthew Stafford
Total Earnings: $72.3 million
On-Field Earnings: $69.8 million
Off-Field Earnings: $2.5 million
Matthew Stafford signed a five-year, $135 million contract in 2017 which was the richest contract in NFL history at the time.
In March 2022, after winning his first Super Bowl with the Los Angeles Rams, Stafford signed a four-year, $160 million deal with the Rams which included a $60 million signing bonus.
12. James Harden
Total Earnings: $74.4 million
On-Field Earnings: $44.4 million
Off-Field Earnings: $30 million
James Harden is currently earning $47 million in the final year of a contract he signed in 2017. He was playing for the Brooklyn Nets before being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in February 2022. Off of the court, Harden has also found great success.
Harden is one of the top players endorsed by Adidas and is one of the faces of the brand’s NBA campaign. In 2015, Harden signed a 13-year deal worth $200 million. Harden is also a minority owner of the MLS club Houston Dynamo, and had an equity stake in Bodyarmor which he cashed in on when the company was bought by Coca-Cola.
11. Russell Westbrook
Total Earnings: $79.2 million
On-Field Earnings: $44.2 million
Off-Field Earnings: $35 million
Westbrook signed the largest contract in NBA history at the time back in 2017, when he inked a five-year, $207 million. He has since been dealt from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Houston Rockets, Washington Wizards, and Los Angeles Lakers.
Westbrook has an endorsement deal with Nike’s Jordan brand and is the owner of ten car dealerships in the Los Angeles area.
10. Giannis Antetokounmpo
Total Earnings: $80.9 million
On-Field Earnings: $39.9 million
Off-Field Earnings: $41 million
Antetokounmpo, who is a back-to-back NBA MVP, signed a five-year, $228 million supermax extension with the Milwaukee Bucks. “The Greek Freak” won an NBA championship with the franchise.
Antetokounmpo also has a number of sponsors off of the court, with Nike — which included a signature sneaker — among the largest. Antetokounmpo previously secured a deal with Disney to develop a move around his life and rise to superstardom.
9. Tom Brady
Total Earnings: $83.9 million
On-Field Earnings: $31.9 million
Off-Field Earnings: $52 million
Tommy Terrific, arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history. While he has had an incredible amount of success on the field, Brady has been a successful businessman in his off-field ventures.
Brady launched his TB12 lifestyle brand, cofounded the NFT company Augograph which raised $170 million in Series B funding, and also launched 199 Productions to develop documentaries, films, and TV shows. Along with his current companies, Brady has agreed to a lucrative deal with FOX in a commentator role once he officially retires from the NFL.
8. Canelo Alvarez
Total Earnings: $90 million
On-Field Earnings: $85 million
Off-Field Earnings: $5 million
There are few boxers on the planet that generate as much attention as Canelo Alvarez when he steps into the ring. The Mexican superstar’s bouts are always must-see pay-per-view events, and his earnings in the ring show that. Alvarez made his estimated $85 million from his fights against Billy Joe Saunders and Caleb Plant.
Out of the ring, Canelo has partnerships with Hennessy, owns a taco restaurant in Mexico, and claims to make $20 million a year from real estate investments.
7. Roger Federer
Total Earnings: $90.7 million
On-Field Earnings: $0.7 million
Off-Field Earnings: $90 million
Roger Federer was at one time the highest-paid athlete in sports thanks to his incredible number of sponsors off of the court. The biggest deal for Federer came when he signed a 10-year, $300 million deal with Japanese apparel brand Uniqlo in 2018. He also owns a stake in Swiss athletic apparel company On.
On the court, Federer has won $130 million in prize money throughout his career.
6. Kevin Durant
Total Earnings: $92.1 million
On-Field Earnings: $42.1 million
Off-Field Earnings: $50 million
Kevin Durant signed a four-year, $164 million contract with the Brooklyn Nets in 2019. While he rakes in a cool $42.1 million on the court, he earns even more from endorsements and investments.
Durant has invested in more than 80 companies through his firm Thirty Five Ventures, and has sponsorship deals with Coinbase, NBA Top Shot, Weedmaps, and more. Durant is also behind the media brand Boardroom and has an ownership stake in the MLS club Philadelphia Union.
5. Stephen Curry
Total Earnings: $92.8 million
On-Field Earnings: $45.8 million
Off-Field Earnings: $47 million
Curry, who signed the NBA’s first $200 million contract in 2017, signed a four-year, $215 million extension in 2021. He is the first player in NBA history to sign two deals worth at least $200 million.
Off of the court, Curry founded his company “SC30” which manages his investments, brand partnerships and philanthropic ventures. He also owns the production company Unanimous Media. Curry joined in a partnership with disgraced cryptocurrency company FTX in 2021 and earned an equity stake in the company.
In addition, Curry is one of the top athletes signed to Under Armour, which launched the Curry Brand in November 2020.
Total Earnings: $95 million
On-Field Earnings: $70 million
Off-Field Earnings: $25 million
Neymar is one of the biggest soccer stars on the planet and signed a lucrative deal with French club Paris Saint-Germain that keeps him under contract until the summer of 2025. Neymar has an endorsement deal with Puma after leaving his deal with Nike’s Jordan Brand. Neymar’s transfer from Barcelona to PSG is the most expensive in history at $263 million which was paid out in full.
Neymar has been a big presence in the NFT world, signing with the NFTSTAR platform in November 2021.
3. Cristiano Ronaldo
Total Earnings: $115 million
On-Field Earnings: $60 million
Off-Field Earnings: $55 million
Whether you are a soccer fan or not, everyone has heard of Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo became the first active team-sport athlete to surpass $1 billion in career earnings back in 2020.
Off of the field, Ronaldo has a lifetime deal with Nike and has his own CR7-branded clothing, accessories, hotels, and gyms. Thanks to his more than 690 million followers across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, Ronaldo rakes in sponsorship deals at an incredible rate.
2. LeBron James
Total Earnings: $121.2 million
On-Field Earnings: $41.2 million
Off-Field Earnings: $80 million
LeBron has been a top earner on the court, getting more than $385 million in pretax salary during stints with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and Los Angeles Lakers.
LeBron’s number received a major boost from his off-court endeavors, which included the film Space Jam: A New Legacy and his popular talk show The Shop. LeBron also sold a stake of his production company Spring Hill, which has a valuation of $725 million. LeBron holds endorsement deals from PepsiCo, Walmart, and a lifetime deal with Nike. He also holds equity in companies that he works with like Beats by Dre and the Blaze Pizza chain.
1. Lionel Messi
Total Earnings: $130 million
On-Field Earnings: $75 million
Off-Field Earnings: $55 million
Messi has won the Ballon d’Or award as the best soccer player in the world for a record seven times. According to contract leaks, there are reports that Messi has earned up to $165 million annually in salary and incentives.
Off of the field, Messi has signed an endorsement deal with the fan engagement app Socios which pays him $20 million annually. Messi also has his own clothing line and retail outlet, the Messi Store, along with a lifetime deal with Adidas. Messi also has endorsements from Budweiser, Pepsi, and more.