It’s no secret that professional athletes at the top of their sport are incredibly well compensated. During 2020, money earned from salaries and endorsement deals skyrocketed. From Roger Federer’s $100 million year to Naomi Osaka’s hefty haul, there was plenty of money to go around. So which athletes round out the rest of the team? These are the athletes who earned the most green in 2020, and all the ways they did it.
Roger Federer – $106.3 Million
No athlete in 2020 made more money than tennis icon Roger Federer. His total earnings for the year were a reported $106.3 million, thanks in large part to his multiple endorsement deals.
On the court, Federer actually had a down year. It was only the second in his career where he failed to win a tournament. Off the court, he makes anywhere from $3 million to $30 million per endorsement and recently inked a 10-year, $300 million dollar deal with Uniglo.
Cristiano Ronaldo – $105 Million
As if earning $60 million a year playing for Juventus wasn’t enough for Cristiano Ronaldo, he earned another $45 million on top of it in 2020 with major endorsement deals. Ronaldo’s most prominent endorsements are with Nike, DAZN, Herbalife, and Unilever.
Ronaldo also is an ambassador for Dubai thanks to his partnership with the United Arab Emirates. He uses his influence to attract businesses and athletes to invest and live in the city
Lionel Messi – $104 Million
Seemingly every year, Lionel Messi declares he is on the brink of retiring. It’s hard to commit to retirement, however, with a contract worth $80 million annually. That haul makes Messi the highest-paid on-field athlete in the world.
Off the field, Messi has endorsement deals with Mastercard, Adidas, Gatorade, Pepsi, Turkish Airlines, and Gillette. Those massive deals help round out his yearly wealth. In 2020, Messi became the second soccer star to earn over $1 billion in their career.
LeBron James – $99.2 Million
It’s no surprise that the first American sports star to make this list is LeBron James. The Los Angeles Lakers star earns nearly $40 million a year with his current contract, with another $60 million coming from endorsements with Coca-Cola KIA, GMC, Nike, and HBO.
James has also started his own entertainment company, Springhill Entertainment, which has produced content for HBO and Showtime. Is there anything LeBron James can’t do?
Neymar – $95.5 Million
Neymar is a Brazilian soccer star who is playing on a $350 million contract with Paris Saint-Germain. The mind-boggling contract makes him the third highest-paid soccer star in the world with an annual take of nearly $70 million.
Rounding out his yearly earning are endorsement deals with Beats, Puma, DAZN, Electronic Arts, Gillette, and Red Bull. And while he might not be breaking $100 million a year yet, we have no doubt he will be soon enough.
Stephen Curry – $84.4 Million
In 2017, Stephen Curry signed a supermax deal with the Golden State Warriors worth $201 million. In 2020, his annual salary was $40.2 million. As of this writing, Curry is the highest-paid professional athlete in-game in the United States.
On top of his $40.2 million salary, Curry rounds out his yearly earnings with endorsement deals from Under Armour, Chase Bank, Callaway Golf, and Steiner Sports Memorabilia. It has been reported that these deals earned him another $44 million in 2020.
Kevin Durant – $73.1 Million
If Kevin Durant had chosen to stay with the Golden State Warriors after the 2018-19 NBA seasons, his overall earnings for 2020 would have been higher. Not that he’s complaining about making $38 million a year with the Brooklyn Nets.
After tearing his Achilles and while rehabbing the entire next season, Durant upped the value of his portfolio and expanded his ThirtyFive Ventures management and media brand. He also has endorsements with Nike, Degree, and Foot Locker.
Lewis Hamilton – $72 Million
Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton won his fourth consecutive title in 2020 and seventh overall. His success on the track earned him $40 million in the final year of his contract with Mercedes-Benz.
Endorsements with Puma, Sony, Monster Energy, Bose, and Tommy Hilfiger earn Hamiton another $12 million. As 2021 rolls around, it’s widely expected that Hamilton will renew his deal with Mercedes-Benz. That new deal should increase his annual earnings.
Kirk Cousins – $71 Million
When Kirk Cousins signed his $84 million contract with the Minnesota Vikings in 2018, he became the first player in the modern era with a fully guaranteed deal. Two years later he signed a $66 million, two-year extension that came with a very nice $30 million signing bonus.
Off the field, Cousins doesn’t have as many sponsors as other athletes we’ve listed, but he still has a few big ones with Bose, Nike, and Panini.
Russell Westbrook – $64.1 Million
Playing for the Houston Rockets at the start of 2020, Russell Westbrook made $38.5 million, giving him the second-highest salary in the NBA. During the offseason he was traded, along with the remaining money on his contract, to the Washington Wizards.
Along with his on-court earnings, Westbrook has lucrative endorsement deals with Jordan Brand. He also owns multiple car dealerships in Los Angeles, adding to his direct income. Overall, it has been reported that Westbrook earned $64.1 million in 2020.
Russell Wilson – $63 Million
At one point, Russell Wilson was deservedly the highest-paid player in the NFL. His epic salary and large signing bonus will both make sure he never has to work again. There’s nothing like earning $18 million in one year and then being handed another $35 million just because a team likes you.
Alongside that haul, Wilson has endorsement deals with Mercedes-Benz, Bose, and Nike. And if that weren’t enough, he also has a part ownership stake in MLS team the Seattle Sounders.
Tiger Woods – $62.3 Million
Tiger Woods only earned $2 million in competitive earnings in 2020. He may not be the world-class golfer her used to be, but he is still beloved by his fans worldwide and is still seen as highly valuable as the face of several companies.
Woods’ catalog of sponsors includes Nike, Monster Energy, TaylorMade, Rolex, Discovery Communications, and Bridgestone. And that’s just to name a few. Life is pretty good when you’re the second highest-earning athlete of all-time!
Carson Wentz – $60 Million
Carson Wentz’s play on the field hasn’t been quite the same since he led the Philadelphia Eagles to a 13-3 record several years ago. In the minds of Eagles’ higher-ups, that decline was just seen a blip on the radar as he recovered from a torn ACL. In 2019, they rewarded their franchise QB with a $128 million extension and a $30 million signing bonus.
Making plenty of money in 2020 thanks to his salary, extension, and endorsements, Wentz was benched by the end of the season. His fate in Philly might be in question in 2021, but his future financial stability is not.
James Harden – $54 Million
James Harden earned $38.1 million in salary in 2020. He finished the pandemic-shortened season averaging 34 points-per-game. It was his third consecutive season posting the MVP worthy mark. Did we mention Harden has a 13-year, $200 million contract with Adidas?
Adidas isn’t the only company inflating Harden’s 2020 earnings. He has multiple other partnerships with companies ranging from Amazon to BodyArmor. The only thing Harden needs now is an NBA Championship.
Giannis Antetokounmpo – $52.2 Million
Known as the “Greek Freak,” Giannis Antetokounmpo won the NBA MVP in 2020 for his monster performance of a season. It was his second league MVP, and led many fans to wonder whether he would return to the small-time Milwaukee Bucks.
Giannis put fears of moving to a bigger television market to rest when he signed the largest contract in NBA history with the Bucks, a five-year, $228 million pact.
Conor McGregor – $48 Million
Iconic MMA fighter Conor McGregor only fought once in 2020. That fight, thanks to Pay-Per-View shares and contract incentives, earned him $30 million. There is no question that McGregor is one of the most sought-after athletes in the world.
Topping off his 2020 earnings were his sponsorships with Electronic Arts, Beats, Wynn Resorts, Burger King, and Reebok. His Proper Twelve brand of spirits has also been a major success.
Kyrie Irving – $47.7 Million
Kyrie Irving has accomplished a lot during his NBA career. He won an NBA Championship with the Cavaliers and nearly led the Celtics to the same glory. Now he plays for the Brooklyn Nets, where his question for another ring continues.
Irving’s deal with the Nets is for four years and is worth $141 million. His yearly earnings from that salary are just over $30 million a year. He earned another $20 million in 2020 from his endorsements with 2K Sports, Pepsi, and Panini.
Damian Lillard – $46.6 Million
The franchise star for the Portland Trail Blazers, Damian Lillard earns roughly $31 annually in salary from the team. His 2019-20 season was perhaps his best on the court. He averaged 30 points-per-game and eight assists, proving he’s worth every penny.
Off the court, Lillard is sponsored by Adidas where he has his own signature shoe line. On top of that, he is one of the faces of Hulu’s streaming service and has a deal in place with 2K Sports.
Klay Thompson – $44 Million
After signing a five-year, $189 million extension with the Golden State Warriors in 2019, Klay Thompson missed the 2019-20 season rehabbing from a torn ACL. Year two of his deal has been just as bad for him after he tore his Achilles during offseason workouts.
None of that changes the fact that Thompson was paid $18 million in 2020 by the Warriors. He earned even more money from a 10-year, $80 million pact with sportswear company Anta.
Joey Bosa – $43 Million
Joey Bosa, the star defensive end for the Los Angeles Chargers, is one of the best pass rushers in the NFL and is paid like it. He signed a five-year, $135 million deal in 2020 to continue terrorizing QBs in Los Angeles.
Bosa is the second-highest-paid defensive player in the NFL. He has $102 million of his contract guaranteed and, thanks to his signing bonus included with the deal, earned a hefty $43 million in 2020.
Chris Paul – $41.6 Million
Chris Paul was a surprise NBA MVP candidate in 2020. Paid like a superstar with a $38.5 million a year price tag, many analysts felt prior to the season he wasn’t worth it. Then he turned in one of the best seasons of his career as the leader of the OKC Thunder.
Paul’s yearly intake made him the second highest-paid player in the NBA in 2020. Over the course of his career, Paul has made $299 million, the second-most in league history behind LeBron James.
Phil Mickelson – $41.4 Million
Of the $41.4 million Phil Mickelson made in 2020, $40.8 of that came from his wealth of endorsement deals. Known best for his legendary golf career, he has lucrative deals with Callaway Golf, Amstel Light, Intrepid International, Amgen, KMPG, and Heineken.
On the links, Mickelson is past his prime and earned just over $1 million in competitive earnings. His total career earnings are $92 million, placing him second behind Tiger Woods.
Paul George – $41 Million
In 2019, Paul George was the featured piece of a major trade between the Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder. In 2020, he earned $33.3 million with his new team, and in the offseason signed an extension worth $176 million over four years.
Prior to the extension, George had one year left on the contract that transferred with him to Los Angeles. Off the court, George earns nearly $10 million in endorsement deals.
John Wall – $40.6 Million
If it weren’t for injuries, John Wall likely would have earned a lot more than $40.6 million in 2020. He’s one of the best players in the NBA when healthy, but ever since signing a four year, $170 million extension with Washington in 2017, Wall has had trouble staying on the court.
Because of his injury history, the Wizards traded Wall in 2020 and Adidas ended their endorsement deal with him early.
Sebastian Vettel – $40.5 Million
One of the few athletes on this list who does not actively pursue endorsement deals, Sebastian Vettel earned almost all of his 2020 haul through his sponsorship with Ferrari. The automaker is his main Formula 1 sponsor in a relationship that has been fruitful for both parties in the past.
Unfortunately for Vettel, the past is exactly that. After an underwhelming 2020 on the track, it appears Ferrari will not renew its contract with him.
Blake Griffin – $40.2 Million
The one-time face of the NBA, Blake Griffin has evolved nicely into a key piece for the Detroit Pistons. Not being a part of “Lob City” anymore hasn’t hurt him financially either. Griffin signed a five year, $171 million contract with the Clippers in 2017 before being traded to Detroit.
In 2020, Griffin made 34.2 million on the court, earning him the mark as the league’s eighth highest-paid player. If there is anything that has held him back from making more, it would be his lengthy injury history.
Drew Brees – $40 Million
Being in his early 40s hasn’t slowed down future Hall of Fame QB Drew Brees. Still the franchise signal-caller in New Orleans, Brees earned a cool $25 million in 2020. One of the most popular players in league history, he also takes in $15 million yearly from endorsements.
In his 19 seasons in the NFL, Brees has made $247 million for his on-field accomplishments. Off the field, he is endorsed by Verizon, Marriott, Nike, Smoothie King, and Carnival Cruise Line.
Novak Djokovic – $38.4 Million
Novak Djokovic has earned $144 million in prize money over the course of his distinguished tennis career. That makes him the highest earner in the history of men’s tennis. In 2020, he earned $6.4 million after winning four tournaments including the French Open.
Like our other featured athletes, Novak took home another pretty penny in 2020 thanks to his wealth of endorsement deals, including those with Lacoste, Head, NetJets, Seiko Watch Corporation, and Asics.
Ryan Tannehill – $37.8 Million
Once seen as an NFL Draft bust, Ryan Tannehill completely turned his career around in 2019 with the Tennessee Titans. He became the team’s starting QB midway through the season and led them to the AFC Championship Game.
In the 2020 offseason, the Titans rewarded him with a $119 million contract with $91 million in guaranteed money. Add on his endorsement deals with Panini and Adidas and it’s not surprising Tannehill made $37.8 million for the year.
Naomi Osaka – $37.4 Million
Naomi Osaka turned 23-years-old in 2020 and earned $37.4 million. At the start of her career, she has already become the highest-paid female athlete in her profession. Her on-court winnings of $34 million were a single-year record for women.
Nike, Nissan, All Nippon Airways, BodyArmor, Mastercard, and Proctor & Gamble, among others, have endorsed Osaka since she became a superstar. As her career grows, we expect her to climb the yearly earned list with ease.