20 Highest-Paid Athletes in the World in 2023

Have you ever wondered who the highest-paid athletes are? There is a significant salary gap between good and best players. It’s very likely more prominent than you believe.

What do the world’s best athletes earn, and who are these highest-paid athletes?

Based on the amount of money they each earned last year, this article details who those people are. You name it: football players, boxers, golfers, NBA players, and so on.

These are the athletes who earned the most money in the previous year.

Do Athletes make a lot of money?

A large sum of money is a relative term. It depends on your definition of “a lot.” A typical athlete can earn up to $100,000 a year. Some earn as much as $1 million or more each year.

Do you consider these sums to be substantial?

According to reports, athletes earn well for their preparation and receive a large sum of money as prize money when they compete, leading many to question how much these athletes earn.

They do, however, make a lot of money.

Read also: Should College Athletes Be Paid? If Yes, Why?

How do Athletes make money?

Athletes earn money through various methods, some of which the government do not fund.

  • Corporate sponsorships.
  • Endorsement deals.
  • Government.

Before we go into the details of these issues, we must realize that there are several types of athletes.

Some have reached the pinnacle of their careers, those who are unpopular, and those are just starting out.

These partnerships and sponsorships are mostly given to those who have reached the pinnacle of their careers.

Then perhaps the unpopular ones will need to keep training hard to reach the pinnacle of their careers, continue winning medals, or be named to the government’s list of elite athletes to get annual stipends.

Depending on how well-known the athletes are, some can earn as little as $16,00-$22,000 per year, while others might earn as much as $1,0000,0000. Their country’s government determines the amount these athletes get.

Corporate sponsorships:

An athlete can be compensated if a company pays to be associated with him or his team.

Due to this, the team or athlete will always have their company’s emblem on their clothes or other fashion items.

Endorsement deals:

In this situation, an athlete gets compensated to promote a company and to represent it well. If an athlete is fortunate enough, they may be able to land multimillion-dollar partnerships that will allow them to live comfortably.


These athletes receive a bonus for each medal they win, which varies depending on their place of origin.

In the United States, a gold medallist receives a bonus of $32,500-38,000, a silver medalist $22,000-27,000, and a bronze medalist $15,000-18,000.

There are various ways for an athlete to earn money, including opportunities, programs and grants specifically for athletes and awards with monetary worth.

How to become an Athlete

Most athletes begin honing their skills by participating in sports at a young age.

They frequently learn through participating in sports at school or a recreation center, with the assistance of instructors or coaches, or by attending a camp that teaches the principles of the activity.

Through years of training, they get a vast understanding of how the sport is played, particularly its rules, regulations, and techniques.

Athletes get experience in most team sports by competing in high school and collegiate athletics or on club teams. Other athletes, such as gymnasts and tennis players, learn their sport through private or group tuition.

Athletes must be licensed or certified to participate in some sports and in other areas. In drag racing, for example, drivers must graduate from accredited schools to compete in various drag racing series.

Players who do not satisfy the required performance, education, or training may have their licenses revoked or suspended by the sport’s regulating organization.

Athletes’ licenses or certifications may also be suspended if they engage in inappropriate behavior.

20 Highest-Paid Athletes in the world

#1. Conor McGregor -$180 million

Conor Anthony McGregor is an MMA fighter, boxer, and entrepreneur from Ireland.

He has won featherweight and lightweight titles in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). In the UFC lightweight rankings as of May 2021, he is ranked #5.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. defeated him in his first professional boxing fight. He has headlined five of the six highest-selling UFC pay-per-view events, making him the most popular PPV draw in history.

#2. Lionel Messi -$130 million

Lionel Andrés Messi, better known as Leo Messi, is an Argentine professional footballer representing both PSG and Argentina as a forward.

Messi has won six Ballon d’Or awards, a record six European Golden Shoes, and was named to the Ballon d’Or Dream Team in 2020.

He is widely regarded as the best player in the world and one of the greatest players of all time.

With earnings of $130 million, Lionel Messi is the world’s second-highest-paid athlete.

#3. Christiano Ronaldo -$120 million

Cristiano Ronaldo, dos Santos Aveiro, is a Portuguese footballer who plays forward for Manchester United and is the captain of the Portugal national team.

Ronaldo has won the Ballon d’Or five times and the European Golden Shoes four times, both of which are European firsts.

Ronaldo is among the highest-paid athletes on the planet.

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#4. Dak Prescott -$107.5 million

Rayne Dakota Prescott is a quarterback in the National Football League for the Dallas Cowboys (NFL).

For the 12 months ending in April 2021, his total earnings of $107.5 million set a new high for NFL players.

Prescott re-signed with the Cowboys in March 2021 for a four-year, $160 million deal extension that included a $66 million signing bonus.

#5. LeBron James -$96.5 million

The Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron Raymone James Sr. is an NBA player (NBA). One of the all-time great basketball players.

He owns a production company, a media company, and the NBA’s top sponsorship portfolio (Uninterrupted).

With Cindy Crawford, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Lindsey Vonn, James co-founded Ladder, a health and wellness company, in 2018.

With a net worth of $96.5 million, James is one of the highest-paid athletes in the world.

#6. Neymar -$95 million

Neymar da Silva Santos Junior, better known by his nickname Neymar, is a Brazilian professional footballer who plays forward for Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain and the Brazilian national team.

He is largely considered to be one of the world’s top players.

Neymar extended his contract with Paris Saint-Germain through the summer of 2025 in May of 2021.

His new contract includes several performance incentives, including a sizable increase if PSG wins the Champions League.

#7. Roger Federer -$90 million

Roger Federer, a professional tennis player from Switzerland, is the current world number one.

The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) has him ranked no. 8 worldwide. He and Rafael Nadal share the record for most Grand Slam men’s singles titles won at 20.

In the sporting world, Federer has an unrivaled sponsor portfolio. For the first time in 2020, he became the world’s highest-paid athlete.

Uniqlo, a Japanese clothing company, signed him to a ten-year, $300 million contract in 2018.

#8. Lewis Hamilton -$82 million

Sir Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton is a British race car driver. After formerly driving for McLaren between 2007 and 2012, he now competes for Mercedes in Formula One.

Hamilton has a joint record of seven World Drivers’ Championship titles, as well as the most wins (98), pole positions (100), and podium finishes (170) in Formula One.

By winning the Formula One championship in 2020, Lewis Hamilton tied Michael Schumacher’s record of seven titles.

#9. Tom Brady -$76 million

Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. plays quarterback for the National Football League’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFL).

From 2001 to 2019, he spent his first 20 seasons with the New England Patriots, where he played a key role in the team’s dynasty.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is largely regarded as the best of all time. Brady won his eighth Super Bowl in 2020 after surprising the football world by quitting the Patriots for the Buccaneers.

#10. Kevin Durant -$75 million

Kevin Wayne Durant, better known by his initials KD, is an NBA basketball player who currently plays for the Brooklyn Nets of the National Basketball Association (NBA).

Durant signed a four-year, $164 million contract with the Brooklyn Nets in 2019 after three years with the Golden State Warriors.

The 11-time All-Star not only has over $40 million in sponsorship money but he’s also invested in over 40 businesses, including Postmates and Acorns.

#11. Stephen Curry

The Golden State Warriors signed two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry to the league’s first-ever $US200 million contract in 2017.

In the same year, he founded SC30, a multi-interest firm that includes Unanimous Media, a production company.

Curry has piled multiple lucrative endorsement deals as the man who revolutionized the modern game with his three-point shooting.

  • Endorsements: $US44m ($A60.1m)
  • Max Commissions: $US74.4m ($A101.6m)
  • Salary/Winnings: $US30.4m ($A41.5m

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#12. Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods is a legendary figure in golf, but in his later years, most of his fortune comes from the great brand he’s developed over the years rather than prize money.

He’s made $US1.5 billion in endorsements, appearances, and course design fees.

  • Endorsements: $US60m ($A81.9m)
  • Max Commissions: $US62.3m ($A85.1m)
  • Salary/Winnings: $US2.3m ($A3.1m)

#13. Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins may not be the finest quarterback in the NFL, but his agency should be rewarded handsomely for making him the highest-paid player as of June 2020.

A two-year agreement with the Minnesota Vikings cost $US66 million, including a $US30 million signing bonus.

He doesn’t have the name, face, or NFL credentials to attract many endorsements, but who cares when you’re getting paid so well?

  • Endorsements: $US2.5m ($A3.4m)
  • Max Commissions: $US60.5m ($A82.6m)
  • Salary/Winnings: $US58m ($A79.2m)

#14. Carson Wentz

Carson Wentz, the quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles, is juggling a large contract with a slew of endorsement deals. He became one of the highest-paid players in the NFL after signing a four-year contract deal in 2019.

  • Endorsements: $US4m ($A5.5m)
  • Max Commissions: $US59.1m ($A80.7m)
  • Salary/Winnings: $US55.1m ($A75.2m)

#15. Tyson Fury

Tyson Fury, a two-time heavyweight world champion, is one of modern boxing’s loudest, most controversial, and most successful figures, which can only mean one thing: box office appeal. Last year, he even appeared in WWE for a multi-million dollar payout.

  • Endorsements: $US7m ($A9.6m)
  • Max Commissions: $US57m ($A77.8m)
  • Salary/Winnings: $US50m ($A68.3m)

#16. Russell Westbrook

After 11 NBA seasons, the Oklahoma City Thunder transferred NBA MVP Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets last year.

Westbrook is a huge fashion fan, and in 2018, he received his first signature shoe from Nike’s Jordan brand. In addition, he owns several vehicle dealerships in Los Angeles.

  • Endorsements: $US27m ($A36.9m)
  • Max Commissions: $US56m ($A76.5m)
  • Salary/Winnings: $US29m ($A39.6m)

#17. Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy is the most well-known golfer in Europe and has consistently performed in Golf.

In 2019, he earned the most money by winning the $US15 million Tour Championship and FedEx Cup, but he also has many lucrative partnerships.

He’s also a subscriber to NBC Sports’ GolfPass digital subscription program, providing amateur golfers with recommendations on improving their game.

  • Endorsements: $US30m ($A40.9m)
  • Max Commissions: $US52m ($A71.1m)
  • Salary/Winnings: $US22m ($A30m)

#18. Jared Goff

Jared Goff is a former No. 1 NFL draft pick who has had some success with the Los Angeles Rams, reaching the Super Bowl in only his third season despite not being one of the league’s most exciting quarterbacks.

The Rams inked him to a four-year, $US134 million contract with a $US25 million signing bonus and a $US21 million roster bonus last year.

The California youth is extremely appealing to marketers, with endorsements from Red Bull, Nike, Banana Republic, and BMW, and he’s even launched his clothing line, JG16.

Nike, Pizza Hut, Red Bull, BMW, Bose, and the Banana Republic all pay Goff $2 million a year off the field.

  • Endorsements: $US2m ($A2.7m)
  • Max Commissions: $US49m ($A66.9m)
  • Salary/Winnings: $US47m ($A64.2m)

#19. James Harden

James Harden of the Houston Rockets is one of the league’s most well-known players.

Harden has inked a big agreement with Adidas, which will pay him a nice chunk of change from his $US171 million contract until 2023.

The NBA MVP has also teamed with Amazon and BodyArmor and invested in the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer.

  • Endorsements: $US19m ($A25.9m)
  • Max Commissions: $US47.8m ($A65.3)
  • Salary/Winnings: $US28.8m ($A39.3m)

#20. Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis Antetokounmpo is known as the ‘Greek Freak,’ The moniker is apt because the Greek national is a gifted basketball player. He’s also successful in the NBA.

With his $US100 million agreement with the Milwaukee Bucks and MVP and All-Star honors, Antetokounmpo has become a desirable business athlete.

His remarkable journey from Greece to the United States even landed him a Disney film production agreement.

  • Endorsements: $US28m ($A38.2m)
  • Max Commissions: $US47.6m ($A65m)
  • Salary/Winnings: $US19.6m ($A26.8m)


Here are the highest-paid athletes in the world. I hope you find this piece of information useful.


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