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Being a professional athlete has its perks, one of which is the potential to make a fortune. Superstars in various sports utilize their athletic talent to increase their net worth. This is done through various methods such as endorsement deals, business investments and even simply trying a new career.
Michael Jordan has his own sports brand, Michael Strahan hosts a daytime talk show and Serena Williams has multiple sponsorships. Superstars that make the most money in sports not only make their earnings through a lucrative paycheck, but in many other ways. Here is a list of the highest-earning athletes of all-time.
The Highest-Earning Athletes Of All Time
Derek Jeter (MLB/USA)
The Yankees’ well-known captain has made a fortune while holding down shortstop in the Bronx. Jeter is worth $555 million dollars after earning roughly $10 million dollars a year in his career through off-field resources. He is currently a spokesperson for Subway and just recently left his role as the CEO of the Miami Marlins.
Peyton Manning (NFL/USA)
Manning is worth $575 million dollars as he is one of the greatest players in NFL history. He also banked with the selling of various Papa John’s stakes in the Denver region, as the NFL got rid of them as a pizza sponsor days later for controversy surrounding the former spokesman.
Oscar De La Hoya (Boxing/MEX)
De La Hoya is worth $580 million dollars as one of the best boxers and promoters of the sport. He made $52 million alone with a fight against Floyd Mayweather in 2007 that saw 2.5 million PPV buys. His business, Golden Boy Promotions, launched in 2022 and he is also an Olympic gold winner.
Jeff Gordon (NASCAR/USA)
One of the most marketable NASCAR drivers of all-time is Jeff Gordon, who has close to 100 total wins in his career. He is worth $595 million which he has earned through multiple avenues. He had many endorsements and race winnings, but he also earned much from his stake in Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 48 car (Jimmie Johnson).
The soccer star has loads of endorsement deals such as Puma, Red Bull, Konami and many others. His contract with PSG is very lucrative as well, as the Brazilian soccer stud is worth $620 million. His current salary is roughly $40 million.
Lewis Hamilton (F1/ENG)
It’s a surprise Hamilton isn’t listed higher here, but the most popular F1 star is worth $620 million driving the Mercedes car. Arguably one of the greatest motorsport athletes of all-time, Hamilton is looking to set the record for most F1 World Championships. He currently has seven. He is the most marketable motorsport athlete in the world with deals that include Puma, Monster Energy and others.
Kevin Durant (NBA/USA)
Durant is with $625 million dollars, $285 million is through a 10-year contract with Nike. He also has investments in his venture capital firm Thirty Five Ventures, starting it in 2016 with Rich Kleiman.
Manny Pacquiao (Boxing/PHI)
Pacquiao is one of the most popular fighters in boxing history, and even has the receipt to prove it. He helped bring in a $600 million dollar revenue for his fight against Floyd Mayweather in 2015, and even has a hand in politics when he announced he would run for president of the Philippines. Pacquiao is with $630 million dollars.
Alex Rodriguez (MLB/USA)
A-Rod is worth $650 million dollars but he is one of the most expensive athletes of all-time to roster for any team. He saw $455 million dollars from his salary and bonuses and now has investments as an owner with Marc Lore for the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx teams. He continues to do broadcasting work as an analyst as well.
Mike Tyson (Boxing/USA)
Despite filing for bankruptcy, Tyson was worth $775 million with a $400 million dollar career earnings without inflation. He is an icon in the sport and has a weed business called Tyson 2.0 – Undisputed Cannabis. The former boxer has also appeared on a Comedy Central Roast, The Hangover and other film projects as well.
Greg Norman (Golf/AUS)
Norman has an empire of businesses that range from wine, to apparel and even restaurants. He has set a great example for how athletes should properly invest their money into business. There is one thing though, he comes with controversy now as SEO of LIV Golf. Despite your opinions on it, Norman has earned $815 million throughout his life and dominated with 331 weeks as the No. 1 golfer at one point.
Shaquille O’Neal (NBA/USA)
Shaq has set an incredible blueprint on being a legend in any sport, through both on court success and a true grind off the court. He has appeared in countless commercials and even starred in his own movie. He has actually appeared in various movies including Blue Chips early in his career. He is worth $870 million dollars.
Kobe Bryant (NBA/USA)
RIP to the great Black Mamba, who was worth $930 million dollars. Kobe invested $6 million into BodyArmor in 2014 when sales were $10 million (now worth $1.4 billion). His estate raked in $400 million when Coca-Cola bought BodyArmor.
David Beckham (Soccer/ENG)
Much like Jordan, Beckham is taking the sports ownership route to build hsi net worth. He is one of the most iconic soccer stars of all-time and the first athlete on the list to hit the letter ‘b’. He is worth $1.05 billion dollars. When he joined LA Galaxy in 2007 he was given a coupon to buy an MLS expansion team at $25 million – which he did with Inter Miami now valued at $600 million.
Phil Mickelson (Golf/USA)
Phil has $1.08 billion to his name through countless career endorsements and a nice paycheck from LIV golf. He also won the PGA Championship recently, which helped him win $2.16 million in prize money at the PGA Tour level.
Roger Federer (Tennis/SUI)
Federer is the most popular tennis player currently, worth $1.12 billion dollars and is the first tennis player to cross the billion dollar threshold. He has his own tennis brandwear and has earned much of his net worth through endorsement deals and career winnings that go well over a decade.
Michael Schumacher (F1/GER)
Perhaps the most iconic F1 driver of all-time, the German is worth $1.13 billion and rivaled Tiger Woods for the title of world’s highest-paid athlete at the 21st century start. His salary with Ferraris represents most of his net worth and won seven World Championships.
Lionel Messi (Soccer/ARG)
Fresh off a World Cup trophy, life is good for the soccer star. Messi is worth $1.14 billion and is the first brand ambassador for Hard Rock International. He has earned roughly $40 million from off-pitch deals such as Coca-Cola and Heineken.
LeBron James (NBA/USA)
James will earn over $400 million dollars in playing salary when his contract expires with the Los Angeles Lakers. He is worth $1.17 billion dollars and has countless businesses and off-court investments such as a movie studio. He helped produce Hustle and starred in Space Jam 2.
Floyd Mayweather (Boxing/USA)
One of the most successful boxers of all-time is worth $1.2 billion dollars and the only boxer to ever profit $200 million dollars (at minimum) from a fight. He also did it on two different occasions. Most of his earnings are from his boxing success and promotions.
Cristiano Ronaldo (Soccer/POR)
Portugal’s soccer star is with $1.24 billion dollars and has a salary of 62 million GBP. He has the largest social following on the planet which helps drive up his endorsements revenues with companies such as Coca-Cola and Clear.
Jack Nicklaus (Golf/USA)
Nicklaus makes up three of the top four athletes on the list, all three of which are American golfers. The Golden Bear is one of the greatest ever, and is worth $1.38 billion dollars. He sold his minority stake in Nicklaus Cos. in 2007 for $145 million dollars.
Arnold Palmer (Golf/USA)
The man has a drink named after him, case closed. In seriousness, Palmer was worth $1.5 billion dollars and had one of the longest running endorsements in sports with Rolex for over 50 years.
Tigers Woods (Golf/USA)
Outside of Jordan, Woods is the most marketable athlete of all-time with dominating golf play in the 90’s and early 2000’s. His deal with Nike was one of the most lucrative of all-time and has earned $62 million off the course with other sponsors such as Buick. He also had his own EA Sports game and is pretty much the Michael Jordan of golf in every way and worth $2.1 billion dollars.
Michael Jordan (NBA/USA)
The owner of the Charlotte Hornets and sports brand Air Jordan, MJ is worth $2.62 billion dollars and the highest-paid athlete of all-time. He has earned $1 billion in Nike royalties since 2003.
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