For athletes, huge paydays are only a bonus when it comes to their careers. They would do it for free and did for years until they ended going pro. The dedication that stars like LeBron James, Lionel Messi, and Lewis Hamilton possess helped them become some of the wealthiest players on the planet. The question is, how do some players end up making less than others? Is it solely based on skill, or is there something else involved? Take a moment to find out the answer to that as you learn who the highest-paid active players are in 2020.
Stephen Curry – Net Worth: $130 Million
At the start of Stephen Curry’s career, the sharpshooter didn’t see as much playing time as his peers. Thanks to ankle injuries, the Golden State Warriors didn’t get to see their star bloom into a superstar until after a few seasons.
Once everything was okay with his health, the floodgates opened and Curry changed the league as we know it with his long-range threes. He helped make the Warriors the unstoppable force the league feared and picked up some nice contracts and endorsements on his way to a $130 million net worth.
Drew Brees – Net Worth: $100 Million
When you bring up the great quarterbacks in the NFL today, Drew Brees has to come up. The former San Diego Charger is a brilliant example of consistency and an excellent leader.
It wouldn’t be until he made the move to New Orleans when he would become all-world, leading the Saints to their first Super Bowl victory in franchise history. Many forget that he’s led the league in passing yards seven times and in touchdowns four.
Maria Sharapova – Net Worth: $195 Million
While she’s a menace on the tennis court, Maria Sharapova is just as savvy off the court when it comes to building her wealth. The five-time Grand Slam winner knows how to operate her personal brand in such a way that helps bring in the cash.
Her brand endorsement portfolio is sensational and keeps growing, but she also has sound business advice. “Authenticity is incredibly important. I think through social media it gets lost in a sense. It’s hard to tell how real it is and how deep the collaboration is,” Sharapova says.
Lewis Hamilton – Net Worth: $285 Million
In case you don’t know the name, hopefully, you become familiar. Lewis Hamilton is the wealthiest race car driver in the world. He’s a British Formula One Driver and a five-time Formula One champion.
Many consider him the best driver of this generation and there’s a lot of proof to back that claim up. He’s in his thirties, so he’s had plenty of time to build up his wealth to the staggering figure it’s at now.
Albert Pujols – Net Worth: $170 Million
As far as extremely talented first basemen go, Albert Pujols is right up there with the best of them. The slugger has more than 650 home runs to his name and ten all-star selections as well.
The three-time National League MVP winner has the most money to his name among any active player in the MLB. He brought the Cardinals to the World Series once in 2006 and another time in 2011, which helped cement him as one of the best St. Louis to ever do it.
Aaron Rodgers – Net Worth: $120 Million
It didn’t take long for the Green Bay Packers to find a new sheriff that would lead them to the promised land. Aaron Rodgers gracefully took over after the departure of Brett Favre and got things done.
After two seasons as the starter, he brought the Packers another Super Bowl victory. The two-time MVP winner is nothing short of a competitor and has the respect of his peers. There should be no confusion as to why his net worth is so high.
Carmelo Anthony – Net Worth: $120 Million
Hailing from the legendary 2003 draft class that featured the likes of LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony is nothing short of a star. Anthony began his career with the Denver Nuggets and would lead them deep in the playoffs for multiple years as he scored in bunches.
The forward signed a lucrative shoe deal with the Jordan brand early in his career and as he improved, many other brands wanted a piece of him. It’s no surprise his net worth is what it is.
Neymar Jr – Net Worth: $185 Million
Our first soccer player featured goes to Neymar Jr. Arguably one of the most popular and influential international athletes, Neymar Jr. absolutely rules the pitch. Neymar Jr. went from playing on the streets of Brazil to become a worldwide phenom.
In 2011, he won the World Soccer Young Player of the Year. In 2013 he signed an extremely lucrative contract with Barcelona and would go on to prove his worth that same year by scoring 39 goals.
Phil Mickelson – Net Worth: $400 Million
As one of the most accomplished golfers in history, Phil Mickelson has a net worth reflecting his 25+ years of excellence. Thanks to a mixture of career earnings and lucrative sponsorships, it’s no secret he’s worth so much.
He’s one of two golfers we’re including on this list that has a nine-figure net worth. He’s as good as they come on the greens, and it doesn’t look like he’s slowing down anytime soon after his 2019 victory against Tiger Woods.
James Harden – Net Worth: $165 Million
James Harden or “The Beard,” is the most polished scorer in the NBA as of 2020. Before he reached that pinnacle, he was the sixth man on an Oklahoma City Thunder team that eventually produced three MVP’s, with Harden being one of them (we’ll get to the other two later).
The bearded scorer now plays for the Houston Rockets and has one of the most lucrative shoe deals with Adidas and a massive NBA contract.
Eli Manning – Net Worth: $100 Million
Eli Manning or should we call him the Patriots dream crusher, plays for the New York Giants. The brother to Peyton Manning, Eli managed to secure as many Super Bowls as his sibling, whom many would say is the better of the two.
He might not have the statistics to qualify him as a Hall of Famer, but he’s still done some incredible things on the field. Remember when he ruined the hopes of the Patriots completing a perfect season?
Rafael Nadal – Net Worth: $180 Million
Between Rafael Nadal and Rodger Federer, you can make a case for either being the best male tennis player of this era. The Spaniard Nadal is the king of clay and secured his 12th French Open in June 2019.
He also ranks second all-time in Grand Slam victories having 18 to his name. In 2016, he did the honors of opening a tennis academy in his hometown of Manacor, Spain. When you’re as great as Nadal, the sponsorships pour in like rain.
Kevin Durant – Net Worth: $170 Million
Besides being one of the deadliest scorers in the NBA, Kevin Durant doesn’t need much introduction. Known for his move from Oklahoma City to the Golden State Warriors, the lengthy player now plays for the Brooklyn Nets.
Durant has his own show on ESPN and is one of the pioneers in the NBA when it comes to investing in tech startups. He’s grown into a mature athlete who knows how to spend his money wisely and not on shenanigans.
Canelo Alvarez – Net Worth: $120 Million
Canelo Alvarez has one of the best profiles when it comes to boxing stars. With only two draws and one loss to his name (he couldn’t catch Floyd Mayweather), he’s become a hot ticket bringing in around $35 million per fight.
The champion earned $94 million in 2019 alone, and that doesn’t include his sponsor deals. At the rate he’s going, it wouldn’t be surprising if he became the most popular boxer in the sport in a few years.
Alexandre Pato – Net Worth: $145 Million
Alexandre Pato began his soccer career at 16 and it wasn’t long before Sports Club International would sign him for the Campeonato Brasileiro Sub 20 team. He led that team to win the FIFA Club World Cup in 2006.
Pato currently plays for the São Paulo FC as a forward. In his prime, there wasn’t anything that Pato couldn’t do on the pitch. Unfortunately, after some injuries, his skills began to decline, but he still managed to be effective.
Dwight Howard – Net Worth: $140 Million
There was a period when Dwight Howard was the single most dominant force in the NBA. Drafted in 2004, the big man led his Orlando Magic team to the NBA Finals in 2009, preventing LeBron James from playing Kobe Bryant in a highly anticipated showdown.
After his peak in Orlando, Howard slowly started to fall from grace thanks to back surgery and bouncing around a few teams. As of 2020, he’s found some of his stride again with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Ben Roethlisberger – Net Worth: $100 Million
Still active and still going strong, Ben Roethlisberger is a tank on the field. Yes, he’s sustained some injuries that have put him out of commission for some time, but he always manages to bounce back with pizzazz.
The two-time Super Bowl champion and six-time Pro Bowl quarterback has a reputation for being tough, so the fans in Pittsburgh might not see the end of him for a few more years. That gives them the chance to continue shaping up their young talents and playing for a shot at the Super Bowl.
Miguel Cabrera – Net Worth: $125 Million
As the second baseball player to appear on this list, it’s only right that it goes to first baseman Miguel Cabrera. He’s an 11-time All-Star and Cabrera has also led the American League in batting average four separate occasions.
Before taking his talents to Detroit, Cabrera helped the Miami Marlins become a highly unlikely World Series champion. The two-time MVP will more than likely go down as one of the best players of the 21st century.
Chris Paul – Net Worth: $120 Million
Chris Paul, not to get confused with Cliff Paul, is an all-time great NBA point guard. When his career is over with, there’s no question that he’ll rank among the ten best point guards to ever step on the court.
After starting his career a New Orleans Hornet, he made the move to the Los Angeles Clippers where he helped them become relevant for the first time ever. Paul is a stark investor and knows how to handle his money well.
Russell Wilson – Net Worth: $115 Million
Early in 2019, Russell Wilson signed a $140 million contract extension with the Seattle Seahawks, making him the highest-paid NFL player. It’s not like he doesn’t deserve it. For such a young player, he’s already accomplished more than many of the Hall of Famers before him.
Wilson is also one of the nicest athletes in general. He visits the children’s hospital in Seattle every Tuesday and says that’s his favorite part of the week.
Cristiano Ronaldo – Net Worth: $450 Million
If he’s not number one, he’s 1A in the world of soccer. Cristiano Ronaldo is a force of nature on the pitch and someone every fútbol fan can enjoy watching the way he terrorizes defenses with speed and power.
Upon joining Juventus after playing for Real Madrid for nine seasons, the team would sell 520,000 jerseys in the first 24 hours. How’s that for star power? Even after paying a $21 million tax evasion fine, his net worth is still extremely high.
Tiger Woods – Net Worth: $800 Million
Tiger Woods is a walking living legend. While he may have had a tough fall from grace, he worked his way back into shape in 2019 and pulled off an impressive tour victory.
Over the decades, he’s been the highest-paid athlete overall many times. You can’t forget about the video game series he had and the lucrative Nike deal he signed. After being on top for so long, Woods’ net worth had no choice but to become so massive.
Russell Westbrook – Net Worth: $150 Million
Arguably the most electric force in the NBA, Russell Westbrook only knows one speed and that’s fast. The super athletic point guard began his career and Oklahoma City next to James Harden and Kevin Durant, where that trio would reach the NBA Finals but fall short to LeBron James.
Westbrook has done an amazing job at building up his personal brand on his way to a $150 million net worth. With a lucrative deal with Jordan brand under his belt, he also recently started a clothing line.
Tom Brady – Net Worth: $180 Million
We can’t possibly tell you anything that you don’t already know about Tom Brady. The New England Patriots player earned the title of greatest quarterback after winning his sixth ring, becoming the first QB with six.
Even though he’s accepted contracts lower than his market value throughout his career to help out the Patriots, he’s still gathered tremendous earnings in other ways. His deal with Under Armour is as lucrative as they come, and it’s said that combining his worth with his wife’s put them at $580 million.
Serena Williams – Net Worth: $180 Million
Simply put, Serena Williams is the best women’s tennis player ever. Her male peers even call her the best to do it across genders. In her prime, it was almost impossible for anyone to beat her. Her furious serve didn’t help opponents either.
She’s extremely marketable and has a 91% awareness rate according to The Marketing Arm. That probably explains why you see her in so many commercials for companies like Chase, Nike, and Gatorade. She’s also the winningest major champion in the Open Era with 23.
Lionel Messi – Net Worth: $400 Million
If it weren’t for Ronaldo, then Lionel Messi would be the clear-cut best soccer player on the planet. The fast and accurate forward of FC Barcelona is practically unstoppable on the pitch.
In 2019, he earned at least $127 million. Between his lifelong deal with Adidas and his 13-year tenure, his net worth doesn’t come as a surprise. The only shocking thing that people can debate about Messi’s greatness is if he or Ronaldo should win the Ballon d’Or.
Roger Federer – Net Worth: $450 Million
The sport of tennis won’t be the same once Roger Federer leaves, so fans need to enjoy the legend while they can. Federer has 20 Grand Slam victories on his resume and sits at the number three spot in rankings as of 2020.
It’s remarkable that he’s still this amazing as he gets closer to 40-years-old. Rafael Nadal is a great challenge for Federer, for if he wasn’t around, Federer would easily run tennis with no competition. It doesn’t shock us that he was the overall highest-paid athlete of 2018.
Gareth Bale – Net Worth: $125 Million
The 6’1″ winger for Real Madrid, Gareth Bale, also spends his time playing for the Welsh national team. Before signing with Real Madrid, he penned a four-year deal with the Tottenham Hotspurs.
Bale has one of the best left foots in the game, and he has the speed that can keep up with just about anyone. In 2011, he won the PFA Players Player of the Year award. While he might not be a big name like the other soccer stars we’ve listed, he’s still managed to gain an impressive net worth.
LeBron James – Net Worth: $480 Million
Possibly the most polarizing figure in the NBA since Michael Jordan, LeBron James is a living icon. James went on a tremendous streak of eight straight Finals appearances, leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to their first championship along the way.
Outside of a signing a billion-dollar lifetime deal with Nike, James can pretty much land any kind of sponsor deal he wants. He’s been vocal about taking control of his career and proven as much this far.
Eden Hazard – Net Worth: $100 Million
The Real Madrid Forward Eden Hazard has a knack for being creative on the pitch. He’s also known for his acceleration, speed, dribbling, and passing. There aren’t many who are as multi-talented as he is.
Hazard began his soccer playing at the age of four. In his first season playing for English club Chelsea, Hazard won the UEFA Europa League. All the more impressive is the fact that he snagged the PFA Young Player of the Year his second season. He worked hard to secure his hefty net worth.