The best athletes in the world are not just adored by fans in their home country, they are revered at a global level. While the best in any game will take home impressive salaries, there is also a significant amount of money to be made through endorsing products.
The highest earning athletes in sports usually take home both salaries along with having multiple lucrative endorsement deals. The sports that truly have global reach like soccer and basketball, feature the world’s biggest endorsers. Below is a list of the highest earning athletes of the last year.
Lionel Messi – $127 Million
Soccer, more than any other sport, is a global phenomenon. The athletes become more valuable to any brand they represent due to the sheer fact that more people play soccer than any other sport. To be the best soccer player in the world is akin to being the best endorser in the world.
For many years, Lionel Messi has been seen as one of, if not the best player in the world. The 32-year-old Argentine will make $92 million in salary to go along with $35 million in sponsorship pay.
Cristiano Ronaldo – $109 Million
Cristiano Ronaldo was born in Portugal in February of 1985. He made his Premiere League debut in 2003 and has been a sensation ever since. Not only is Ronaldo one of the best scorers in the world, but he was also blessed with fantastic looks.
Advertisers are happy to incorporate Ronaldo’s handsome face into their campaigns. And they pay him very well for the privilege. The Portuguese superstar raked in $44 million in endorsement money to go along with a salary of $65 million.
Neymar – $105 Million
Few countries have a more incredible legacy in the sport of soccer than Brazil. From Pele to Ronaldo and now to Neymar, the team usually goes deep into the World Cup and spreads star players all over the world. And right now, the best Brazilian soccer player is Neymar.
And that status comes with some pretty incredible endorsement deals. He’s also great on the field winning a 2016 Olympic gold medal along with the 2018 World Cup. He earns $75 million in salary to go along with $30 million in sponsor pay.
Canelo Alvarez – $94 Million
Interest in the heavyweight boxing class has dwindled in the past few years thanks to uninteresting fights. The light heavyweight division, however, has been in fine hands with its current champion, Canelo Alvarez. Alvarez moved up to the class after dominating a number of fighters in the lower classes.
His reputation and his willingness to fight regularly create huge purses for the Mexican fighter. Alvarez earned an incredible $92 million in salary/winnings in the last year, tying Messi. He also brought in $2 million in endorsement money.
Roger Federer – $93.4 Million
Roger Federer has been playing tennis for a very long time, 21 years to be exact. And in that time, he’s attracted a number of different sponsors. And for that reason, only 8% of what the tennis player made in the last year actually came from winnings.
The star took home $93.4 million in total with $86 million coming from endorsements and $7.4 million coming from his play on the court. While he is close to retirement, Federer should continue to take in big advertising bucks.
Russell Wilson – $89.5 Million
Russell Wilson has started the first half of the 2019 NFL season on fire and is considered the favorite for the league’s MVP award. Luckily for the Seattle Seahawks, they inked their star quarterback to a long term deal prior to the season.
With the way to bonuses are structured, Wilson will be receiving a large part of his contract in the first year taking home $80.5 million in salary to go along with $9 million in endorsements. That makes him the highest-paid player in America’s big four sports.
Aaron Rodgers – $89.3 Million
Aaron Rodgers has been one of the very best players in the NFL since he began starting games for the Packers back in the 2008 season. The quarterback has become synonymous with Green Bay and the team inked him to a large extension in 2018 to make sure he was always with the team.
Like many NFL contracts, the deal includes a bunch of guarantees and bonus money upfront. Rodgers received $80.3 million in salary during the last year and also made $9 million in endorsements.
LeBron James – $89 Million
No American athlete makes more money in endorsements than LeBron James. He has been the face of Nike since he was a teenager and has a lifetime deal to keep representing the company.
The small forward inked a 2018 contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, but with a salary cap, there is a limit to what each NBA player could make. There is no limit to what a sponsor can pay, though. James took home $56 million in endorsements to go along with a $36 million salary.
Stephen Curry – $79.8 Million
Stephen Curry may make more money, salary-wise, than any other player in the NBA, though he doesn’t top the league in total money, LeBron James does. Curry, though, still takes in a very impressive $79.8 million in total.
Unlike many of his peers who represent Nike or Adidas, Curry is the face of Under Armour’s shoe program. This has made him a very rich man. The NBA star took home $42 million from endorsements in the last year.
Kevin Durant – $65.4 Million
For the second time in 5 years, Kevin Durant ruled the NBA offseason. Despite an Achilles tendon tear that will prevent him from playing in the 2019-20 season, the forward was still the crown jewel of the league’s free agents.
Durant ended up landing a major deal with the Brooklyn Nets. In addition to his whopping $30.4 million dollar salary, the new Net will also take home a total of $35 million in endorsement money as well.
Tiger Woods – $63.9 Million
It’s strange to see Tiger Woods this far down the list. At one point, the golfer was the undisputed King of sponsorships. That, however, was before a series of injuries and a very public and controversial divorce.
The brands that stuck with Woods, including longtime partner, Nike, were repaid when the golfer captured the 2019 Masters. In the last year, Woods earned $9.9 million from his play on the links to go along with another $54 million in endorsement money.
Ben Roethlisberger – $55.5 Million
When a team has a star level quarterback, there is nothing more important than holding on to him. The Steelers have been able to keep Ben Roethlisberger happy since selecting him during the 2004 NFL Draft.
One foolproof way to keep a player happy is by giving him a massive contract. In the last year, many of Roethlisberger’s bonuses hit and he earned a total of $54 million. The quarterback also had some endorsement deals that paid him an additional $1 million.
Lewis Hamilton – $55 Million
Formula One Racing is one of the most lucrative sports in the world. And that can be especially true if the racer is one of the best in the world. Since his debut in 2007, British-born Lewis Hamilton has been the best of the best.
Hamilton has won a total of six championships in 2008, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019. The 2019 win helped him bring in $45 million in the last year. Lucrative endorsements with companies like Mercedes added another $10 million to his take.
Anthony Joshua – $55 Million
For a championship level boxer, the time to make the big bucks is short. Thirty-year-old British fighter Anthony Joshua knows that his time is now and he fought two big fights over the past year, earning his $45 million in purse money to go along with $10 million in sponsor money.
The first fight was against Alexander Povetkin and Joshua won by TKO. He dropped his next fight, however, to American Andy Ruiz Jr. Joshua and Ruiz Jr. will fight again in December of 2019.
Khalil Mack – $55 Million
The most valuable position in the NFL is the quarterback and those players are paid accordingly. The next two most important players are those who protect the quarterback and those who go after him. Khalil Mack goes after the QB better than anyone in football.
The Bears were thrilled when they were able to acquire Mack from the Raiders. They immediately signed him to a huge deal that paid him $54 million over his first year. The linebacker added another $1 million in endorsements.
Russell Westbrook – $53.7 Million
It can be very difficult for small market teams to convince their very best players to stay. The Oklahoma City Thunder were able to do just that in 2017 when they inked point guard Russell Westbrook to a lucrative extension.
The joy in Oklahoma City was short-lived though. During the 2019 offseason, the Thunder made the difficult decision to rebuild and dealt away both Paul George and Westbrook. The triple-double machine, now a Houston Rocket, he made $18 million in endorsements and $35.7 million in salary last year.
Novak Djokovic – $50.6
Novak Djokovic hasn’t just been one of the best players in the game of tennis since his debut in 2003. He has also been one of the games most charismatic players as well and advertisers have noticed and paid him accordingly.
Djokovic is still regularly winning tournaments and earned himself $20.6 million in prize money. He was also in demand as a sponsor and took home another $30 million in money from advertising gigs.
Mike Trout $50.6 Million
Mike Trout is an astonishingly good baseball player. So good, in fact, he probably punched his ticket to the MLB Hall of Fame before he even turned 30. Not much of the country’s casual fans know about his greatness, though, because his team has not been very good.
In 2019, Trout took home his 3rd MVP Award. But the Angels have never won a playoff game since he began playing for the team in 2011. Trout earned $47.6 million in salary in the last year and $3 million in endorsements.
Phil Mickelson – $48.4 Million
Phil Mickelson has been a great golfer for a very long time. As good as he is at golf , though, he may be an even better pitchman. Lefty has never wanted for endorsement deals.
During 2019, the golfer took home his 44th career PGA Tour win and won a total of $12.4 million in prize money. He also endorsed a number of companies and was paid a whopping $36 million as a product sponsor.
James Harden – $47.7 Million
James Harden began his career as a sort of a third banana behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. It is unlikely the Thunder could never have imagined what the shooting guard would become once he was dealt to Houston.
Harden has made the last 7 consecutive All-Star games and also won the league’s MVP Award in 2018 as well. He also has a lucrative deal with Adidas. He was paid $17 million in endorsements and $30.7 million in salary.