2021’s Highest-Paid Athletes Are Making Bank On And Off The ‘Field’

Athletes | 5/21/21

As fans flock back into stadiums, sit ringside at fights, and wait for their favorite teams to take to the pitch, athletes in 2021 are making bank. From multi-million dollar salaries to endorsement deals that can easily reach the tens of millions, these athletes are living the high life with some pretty incredible sums in their bank accounts.

Roger Federer: $120 Million

Qatar ExxonMobil Open 2021 - Day Three
Mohamed Farag/Getty Images
Mohamed Farag/Getty Images

Roger Federer is the second most winning tennis player of all time, only behind Jimmy Connors for the total number of wins. For his efforts on the court, Federer earns $70 million in annual salary, on average.

Federer’s real payday, however, comes from his endorsements. In 2021, the tennis superstar is expected to pull in $50 million in endorsements. As a world-renowned athlete, Federer appeals to a broad range of fans located all over the world, the type of appeal that can apparently lead to endorsement deals worth nine figures.

Dak Prescott: $107.5 Million

New York Giants v Dallas Cowboys
Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Dak Prescott is another rare athlete who is earning far more in on-field money than he’s currently earning from endorsement deals. Prescott will earn $97.5 million in salary for the 2021 NFL season. In comparison, Prescott will only take in about $10 million in endorsement deals.

Given his huge contract, if Prescott performs, we expect to see his endorsement deals skyrocket following the 2021 NFL season. In any case, that $97.5 million is going to be hard for the QB1 to surpass.

Cristiano Ronaldo: $105 Million

Cristiano Ronaldo of Juventus Fc looks on during the...
Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images
Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images

When you’re the best soccer player in the world and your sport is the most-watched on the planet, you’re going to pull in a huge eight-figure salary. Cristiano Ronald’s 2021 salary is a cool $60 million. If the guy didn’t have an endorsement in the world he’d be doing just fine.

Ronaldo is one of the rare athletes on our list who is actually expected to earn less in endorsements than his salary provides. In 2021, his current deals are valued at an estimated $45 million.

Lewis Hamilton: $82 Million

F1 Grand Prix of Spain
Xavier Bonilla – Pool/Getty Images
Xavier Bonilla – Pool/Getty Images

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton is one of the most respected racers on the Formula One circuit and he’s going to be rewarded fully in 2021. On the track, Lewis is expected to bring in $70 million.

Endorsements for Lewis are far less at an expected $12 million. That’s no small sum of change but we expect his endorsements to increase after the 2021 season, especially if he can match or beat 2020’s 11 race wins.

LeBron James: $96.5 Million

Los Angeles Lakers v Brooklyn Nets
Mike Stobe/Getty Images
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

LeBron James is no stranger to sky-high salaries and even bigger endorsements. It’s hard to escape the orbit the famed basketball player has created around himself. In 2021, LeBron will take in a cool $31.5 million for his efforts on the court.

Much like Michael Jordan and other NBA superstars that came before him, most of LeBron’s money is from endorsement deals off the court. In 2021 he’s expected to bring in $60 Million.

Lionel Messi: $130 Million

Levante v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander
David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images
David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Regarding as one of the greatest soccer players of all time, Lionel Messi is bringing in a cool $97 Million in salary for the 2021 season. Soccer, pays a lot of guarantees to its players, unlike many American sports, ensuring that Messi is well taken care of for the year.

On the endorsement front, Messi’s $33 million is no drop in the bucket, although it still pales in comparison to make of the other athletes on our list.

Stephen Curry: $74.4 Million

Memphis Grizzlies v Golden State Warriors
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Steph Curry has played so well in the NBA this season that he drew the admiration of Lebron James. Apparently, averaging over 30 points per game can net a basketball player a single-season salary of $30.4 million.

Curry’s biggest payday, however, comes from the $44 million in endorsements he’s already lined up. Given the season Curry has had, those endorsement deals could turn into even bigger paydays by end of the year.

Tiger Woods: $62.3 Million

GOLF: JAN 26 PGA - Farmers Insurance Open
Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

While Tiger Woods has commanded millions in appearance fees in the past, his off-the-course earnings have always by far eclipsed his on-the-court earnings. In 2021, Woods was involved in a bad car accident that will require a lot of recovery time. For that reason, his estimated match player earnings are a very small $2.3 million.

Off the course, Woods has $60 million in endorsement deals that haven’t shown any sign of slowing despite what will likely be a lengthy recovery following his car accident.

Neymar: $95.5 Million

Paris Saint-Germain v Stade Reims - Ligue 1
Tnani Badreddine/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images
Tnani Badreddine/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Neymar da Silva Santos JĂșnior, known as Neymar, is a Brazilian soccer player and one of the best on the pitch. In 2021 he’ll bring in a cool $70.5 million for his efforts on the field, blowing away most athletes in American sports.

Off the field, Neymar is expected to take in $25 million in endorsements. This number could increase if the famous soccer player picked up any new deals as the year drags on and with fans returning to stadiums, there’s a real chance his endorsement deals could climb higher.

Kevin Durant: $63.9 Million

Brooklyn Nets v Toronto Raptors
Julio Aguilar/Getty Images
Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Kevin Durant has proven he can lead in the NBA and he’s being handsomely rewarded during the 2021 season with a single-season salary of $28.9 Million. LeBron, now one of the wealthiest athletes of all time, has proven that after 18 seasons in the NBA, he’s still one of the best athletes on the court.

Off the court, LeBron James is a powerhouse advertising machine. In 2021 his expected endorsement deals will bring in an estimated $35 Million.

Kirk Cousins: $60.5 Million

Chicago Bears v Minnesota Vikings
Stephen Maturen/Getty Images
Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

When your NFL career is over a decade old and you’re about to make $58 million in 2021, you know you’re doing something right. Cousins, by far, doesn’t have the name recognition of many other NFL QBs but his play on the field and a savvy agent handling his negotiations have made all the difference in his 2021 seasonal payday.

In comparison, his lack of name recognition will earn Cousins just $2.5 million off the field. We don’t think he’s complaining, given his on-field payday.

Carson Wentz: $59.1 Million

New Orleans Saints v Philadelphia Eagles
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Carson Wentz is hoping to bounce back with the Indianapolis Colts this season and the NFL franchise is betting big on their QB1, $55.1 million big to be exact. Wentz hasn’t exactly proven he can lead his team and that is likely why his endorsements are a rather paltry $4 million.

If we’ve learned anything from these endorsement deals though, it’s that they can quickly skyrocket if Wentz proves to be the star the Colts are hoping he can be for the team.

Tyson Fury: $57 Million

Tyson Fury Training Session
Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images
Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images

Tyson Fury is one of the most dynamic and fun-to-watch boxers in the world. The British boxing champ earned $50 million in 2020 and he’s expected to add another $7 million in 2021. Fury will likely pick up $50 million in purses alone this year.

Outside of the ring, Fury has $7 million in endorsements that will increase his earnings for the year. If he keeps on winning, we’ll likely see another year-over-year increase, just as we will from last year to this year.

Russell Westbrook: $56 Million

Cleveland Cavaliers v Washington Wizards
Scott Taetsch/Getty Images
Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Washington Wizards star Russell Westbrook pulls down an impressive $29 Million for his work during the 2021 season. That’s a big sum of money which makes sense for a guy charged with leading an NBA franchise.

Westbrook is the only athlete on our list who evens out his season salary with endorsements that are about equal to his on-the-court earnings. In 2021, Westbrook’s endorsements are worth an estimated $27 million.

Rory McIlroy: $52 Million

PGA Championship - Preview Day 3
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy is the 7th ranked player on the PGA tour and one of the highest-paid. His longevity, likeability, and ability to win will net him $22 million on the course in 2021, not a bad sum of cash for smashing a tiny little ball around a course all day.

McIlroy’s endorsement machine will earn him even more money in 2021, bringing in an estimated $30 million. Given the longevity of many players on the PGA and SPGA tours, we expect to see McIlroy on more of these lists in the next few years.

Jared Goff: $49 Million

Divisional Round - Los Angeles Rams v Green Bay Packers
Dylan Buell/Getty Images
Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions believe in Jared Goff so much that they converted $20 million of his base salary into a signing bonus for 2021. Goff is set to earn $47 million for the season, but only if he can maintain the Lions’ expectations for his skills at quarterback.

Off the field, he’s set to earn $2 million in endorsements. If Goff can deliver this year, we expected to see him jump higher on our list as sponsorship deals start to pour in.

James Harden: $47.8 Million

Chicago Bulls v Brooklyn Nets
Sarah Stier/Getty Images
Sarah Stier/Getty Images

James Harden’s $28.8 million for the 2021 season puts him near the top of our list. It’s an impressive amount of money for a guy who has proven he’s worth every penny over the years.

Harden is also set to earn $19 million in endorsements that come from various sources. Harden is endorsed by a lot of companies and that likely means he’ll continue to see some healthy returns for years.

Tom Brady: $76 Million

UFC 261: Usman v Masvidal 2
Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC
Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Tom Brady will earn $45 million on the field in 2021, not bad for a guy who’s 43-years-old and somehow still playing the game he has dominated for two decades. In his first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the future all of Famer won a Super Bowl and we won’t be surprised if he wins another one in 2021.

Off the field, Brady is expected to earn $21 million for his commercial work, various other endorsements, and even his time on the virtual speaker circuit. If there’s a way to make bank, Brady’s team has figured out how to expose that money-making machine.

Conor McGregor: $180 Million

UFC 257: Poirier v McGregor
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC
Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Conor McGregor wouldn’t have come close to topping our list with his $22 million fighting salary in 2021, however, his whiskey business helped bring in a mind-boggling amount of money after the sale was announced in early 2021.

McGregor earned an estimated $158 million for his part of the business. Proper No. 12 was acquired in a deal worth an impressive $600 million. McGregor will likely fall far down our list in 2022.

Giannis Antetokounmpo: $47.6 Million

Milwaukee Bucks v Charlotte Hornets
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Greek professional basketball player Giannis Antetokounmpo pulls in a very nice $19.6 million salary for the entirety of the 2021 season and with a five-year contract worth $228 million that just started in 2020, he’ll likely end up on our future annual earnings lists for at least a few more years.

Apart from his huge salary, the NBA star will also earn an estimated $28 million for his endorsement deals in 2021.