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Athletes With the Biggest PayChecks

los angeles times

Athletes today get paid more than ever before. The world of sports is an incredibly lucrative and expensive business. Many of the highest paid athletes parlay their talent into other business ventures. Athletes of the highest level are celebrities as well as players, making them an entire brand. This kind of celebrity can be seen throughout history but becomes most noticeable with legends such as Michael Jordan. These names are some of the highest paid athletes in the world.


Lionel Messi

Source: Instagram/Pinterest

is among the highest paid athletes of all time. He was only 17 when he started playing soccer at FC Barcelona. He played for them for 17 years before transferring to another team. In one year, Lionel Messi earned $130 million, landing at the top of Forbes “world’s highest-paid athletes” list for the second time. The talented player’s salary varies year by year and it is estimated that he took a $22 million loss when he transferred teams. His endorsements make up most of this enormous salary.


Lebron James


comes in a close second. Interestingly, the majority of his earnings come from money earned off the court. His Lakers contract paid him a handsome $41 million while he earned $80 million outside of that. He starred in Space Jam: A New Legacy and started a talk show called The Shop. He appeared in Superbowl commercials and announced a new endorsement deal with When you are an athlete of the top caliber, it opens hundreds of doors to other avenues of income. 


Cristiano Ronaldo


is the rival of Lionel Messi and makes close to as much as him on and off the field. He’s played for Manchester United for years which is one of the biggest teams in Europe. It’s interesting that soccer is such a high earning sport in the U.K., but the same is not true about soccer in the U.S. Interestingly, much of Ronaldo’s income comes from his presence on social media. He has more than 690 million followers across his social media, giving him access to work with almost any brand he wants. He works with Nike, Herbalife, Clear Shampoo, and more. He’s also an investor in restaurants and is the face of a digital soccer app.


Roger Federer


is the highest paid tennis player in the world. In recent years he has been injured which has prevented him from playing. Regardless, he is still the highest paid tennis player by working with huge brands. In fact, 99% of his income comes from off-the-court money. Some of the enormous companies he promotes include Uniqlo and Rolex. He also worked with a Swiss shoe brand and had a hand in the design. He explained to Forbes that he spent 20 days in the lab helping to develop the pro tennis shoe.

While all these incredible athletes made almost unthinkable amounts of money, it’s worth noting that playing sports at this level also costs thousands of dollars. To reach the level they have requires incredible skill and hard work.



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