Top 10 Richest Sportsmen in the World
1. $130 MILLION
Lionel Messi’s $20 million-per-year deal with Socios adds to his already extensive endorsement portfolio, which includes Adidas, Budweiser, and PepsiCo. In a deal announced last June, he also became Hard Rock International’s first athlete brand ambassador, allowing Messi to equal Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo in off-field earnings for the first time since 2013. Messi won the Ballon d’Or as the world’s best men’s soccer player in 2021, but he has struggled on the field recently, scoring only nine goals in 32 appearances. Paris Saint-Germain after scoring 38 goals in 47 games for Barcelona in his final season. Despite exiting the Champions League in the Round of 16, PSG won the French Ligue 1 title in Messi’s first season.
2. $121.2 MILLION
LeBron James’ Los Angeles Lakers missed the playoffs this season, but he’s never been more dominant off the court. He appeared in last year’s Space Jam: A New Legacy and recently moved his HBO talk show, The Shop, to YouTube. According to Forbes, he sold a significant minority stake in SpringHill, the production company behind both projects, in October for around $725 million, bringing his net worth to $850 million. After signing an endorsement deal with Crypto.com in January, James appeared in a Super Bowl commercial alongside a computer-generated version of his younger self. He has also recently invested in Tonal, a home gym company, and Status, a sports tech startup that creates virtual reality training products.
3. $115 MILLION
Cristiano Ronaldo, like his rival Lionel Messi, has had a disappointing first season with his new team, Manchester United, which is currently sixth in the Premier League standings with one game remaining. Rumors are circulating that Ronaldo, who previously played for Manchester United from 2003 to 2009, could be on the move again this summer. Much of Ronaldo’s earning power stems from his massive social media presence: he has 690 million Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter followers, giving him leverage to demand exorbitant fees from sponsors like Nike, Herbalife, and Clear Shampoo. He also has a stake in Tatel restaurants, including one in Beverly Hills.
4. $95 MILLION
Neymar scored his 400th career goal in November, but he, like Lionel Messi, was stung by criticism following Paris Saint-Germain’s exit from the Champions League. His focus will now shift to the World Cup in Qatar this fall, which he has stated may be his final. Off the field, he has numerous endorsements, including those from Puma and Red Bull, and he is the subject of a new Netflix docuseries, Neymar: The Perfect Chaos. He’s also dabbling in NFTs, having signed up with the platform NFTSTAR in November and spending over $1 million on two Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs in one day in January.
5. $92.8 MILLION
No NBA player made more money than Stephen Curry this season, and the Golden State Warriors guard is due for a raise after signing a four-year, $215 million contract extension last August. He’ll earn around $48 million next season, rising to just under $60 million in 2026-26. Curry’s new FTX endorsement agreement included an equity stake, and he delved deeper into blockchain in December, releasing a collection of NFTs featuring his sneakers and linked to three metaverse platforms. (He promised to donate the money.) Meanwhile, Unanimous Media, Curry’s production company, signed a development deal with Comcast NBCUniversal in September.
6. $92.1 MILLION
Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets earns about $28 million per year from Nike, second only to LeBron James ($32 million) among active players. He has recently added deals with Coinbase, NBA Top Shot, and Weedmaps, but his business empire extends far beyond endorsements, with media company Boardroom and investment firm Thirty-Five Ventures. Among his most recent investments are NFT platform OpenSea and digital fitness startup Future, as well as SeatGeek’s SPAC merger. Durant and his longtime business partner, Rich Kleiman, also announced last year that they would launch their own SPAC, which is still looking for a buyer.
7. $90.7 MILLION
Injuries limited Roger Federer to just six tournaments in 2020 and 2021, and he has yet to return to the court in 2022. Regardless, the world’s former No. 1 player is still the best sports pitchman, promoting brands like Uniqlo and Rolex. In 2019, he also invested in the burgeoning Swiss shoe brand On, which went public in September, raising more than $600 million. Federer told Forbes at the time, “We work very closely together on product design.” Federer had spent 20 days in the lab with the On team developing the company’s pro tennis shoe.
8. $90 MILLION
Canelo Alvarez is boxing’s biggest draw, having earned $40 million or more from his two pay-per-view victories in May and November of last year. (His defeat to light-heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol on May 7, 2022, occurred outside of Forbes’ tracking period for this list.) Aside from boxing, Alvarez has a lucrative partnership with Hennessy and owns a taco restaurant in his home country of Mexico, with plans to expand to California. Alvarez announced last year that he would open a gas station chain, and his Canelo Promotions is organizing a series of fights in Mexico in collaboration with Matchroom Boxing and DAZN.
9. $83.9 MILLION
After a fantastic 2021 season at the age of 43, Tom Brady’s retirement this offseason lasted less than six weeks, which was good news for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Off the field, he’s definitely learning new things. Last year, Brady co-founded the NFT platform Autograph, which announced a $170 million Series B funding round in January, and Religion of Sports, which he co-founded with Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Strahan and filmmaker Gotham Chopra, announced a content deal with Skydance Sports in March. Meanwhile, his other production company, 199 Productions, is responsible for the upcoming Brady, a new clothing line called BRADY, as well as a new road-trip film, 80.
10. $80.9 MILLION
Giannis Antetokounmpo is the only member of this year’s top ten who is still in his twenties, with Neymar turning 30 in February. The two-time MVP of the Milwaukee Bucks agreed to a five-year, $228 million contract in December 2020, making it the NBA’s largest contract by total value to date. He participated in the $165 million funding round announced in November for the timepiece resale platform WatchBox, and he has also signed a licensing agreement with NFT platform NFTSTAR and added WhatsApp and Google’s Pixel 6 smartphone to his list of endorsements. And Antetokounmpo’s life story will be told in the biopic Rise, which will be released on Disney+ in June.