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The richest athletes in the world

Being a sporting star can make you millions — as this list of the world’s richest athletes shows. Not only can you earn a huge salary, but you can also make a fortune on the side through sponsorship and endorsement deals. And whether it’s soccer, golf, or basketball…it doesn’t matter what sport you play — if you become one of the top athletes in your game then the doors are open for you to make a huge pile of cash. Here is a list of the ten richest athletes in the world today, ranked by their total earnings over the past 12 months.

10 Lionel Messi, soccer player

Total earnings $41.3 million, Salary $20.2 million, endorsements $21 million

Lionel Messi, the best soccer player in the world
Messi is one of the richest athletes in the world. Pic credit: globalite CC BY-SA 2.0

Argentinian player Messi is a superstar in soccer having beaten a 41-year-old record in 2012 by scoring ninety-one goals in one season, for Spanish outfit Barcelona. He was FIFA World Player of the Year for four years only losing to Ronaldo in 2013.

Barcelona recently gave him a record extension to his contract paying him over $20million-a-year until the end of the 2018 season. He is also captain of the Argentina national side.

Messi has been with his partner Antonella Roccuzzo since 2008 and he became a father in November 2012 when she gave birth to their son Thiago.

In 2007 he formed the Leo Messi Foundation to provide opportunities for disadvantaged youth. In early 2010 UNICEF named Messi as a goodwill ambassador with a focus on fighting for children’s rights across the globe.

9 Cristiano Ronaldo, soccer player

Total earnings $44 million, Salary $23 million, endorsements $21 million

Ronaldo, the second best soccer player in the world
Ronaldo played for Manchester United before moving to Real Madrid. Pic credit: Jan S0L0 CC BY-SA 2.0

Ronaldo was the 2013 FIFA World Player of the Year scoring 55 goals in 55 appearances. In the 2013/14 season he scored 51 goals in 47 appearances. He has a contract with Spanish giants Real Madrid until the end of the 2015 season and the Portugese players’ sponsors make up nearly fifty per cent of his annual income. He is also captain of the Portugese national team. Ronaldo’s ambition is to be known of one of the greatest players in the game when his career is finally over. He says football is all he cares about and that he has no idea how much money he has in the bank.

8 David Beckham, soccer player

Total earnings $47.2 million, Salary $5.2 million, endorsements $42 million

David Beckham made millions through sponsorship deals with the likes of Adidas. Pic credit: onEdition under CC license
David Beckham made millions through sponsorship deals. Pic credit: onEdition under CC license

Known in Britain as “Golden Balls”, Beckham recently announced his retirement from professional football after playing for 21 years. In his last match for the Parisian club Paris Saint-German, which won him his tenth league title, he donated his entire salary of $5.2million to a children’s charity. David has been married to former Spice Girl Victoria, who is a now successful fashion designer, since 1999 and is devoted to his three sons Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz and his daughter Harper who are with him whenever they can be. In his retirement it is rumoured he is planning to buy a Major League Soccer team.

7 Phil Mickelson, golfer

Total earnings $48.7 million, Salary/winnings $4.7million, Endorsements $44 million

Richest athletes Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson. Pic credit: Tour Pro Golf Clubs under CC license

Mickelson’s wealth mostly comes from his lucrative endorsements from Rolex, Callaway, KPMG, Exxon and Barclays. He is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame after forty-one victories and career wins of $70 million. Mickelson was number two in the world when he announced he had been battling against psomatic arthritis, an inflammatory form of the disease. It came on suddenly in the run-up to the 2010 US Open and he was soon afterwards in a near-crippled state. Weekly injections of an injected biologic drug Enbrel at the Mayo Clinic got him back into golf and he now promotes it for Amgen/Pfizer.

6 Aaron Rodgers, American football player

Total earnings $49 million, Salary $43 million, Endorsements $6 million

Richest athletes Aaron Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers playing for Green Bay Packers in 2012. Pic credit: Mike Morbeck under CC license

After extending his contract with the Green Bay Packers, Rodgers is now the highest paid player in the NFL as well as being one of the finest quarterbacks in the league. He has a lucrative endorsement from Nike and also stars in a series of amusing Discount Double Check State Farm commercials which are very popular. He is the NFL’s all-time career leader in passes being the only quarterback with a rating of over 100 in the regular season and he also holds the league’s highest touchdown to interception ration in NFL history.

5 Drew Brees, American football player

Total earnings $51 million, Salary $40 million, Endorsements $11 million

Richest Athletes Drew Brees
Drew Brees. Pic credit: Tulane Public Relations under CC license

In late 2012 Brees signed a $100million five-year extension to his contract with New Orleans Giants which included a $37million signing bonus. This was after he helped his team to win the Super Bowl title. His sponsors include Nike, Proctor and Gamble, Verizon, Pepsi and Wrangler. He has set up the Breeds Dreams Foundation which has donated $17million to academic institutions and charities in New Orleans, San Diego and communities in West Lafayette and Purdue.

4 LeBron James, basketball player

Total earnings $59.8 million, Salary $17.8 million, Endorsements $42 million

Richest Athletes LeBron James
Le Bron James plaing for Miami heat in January 2014. Pic credit: Keith Allison under CC license

Known as “King James”, in 2012 James won his first NBA title, his third MVA Award and his second Olympic Gold Medal. He currently plays at number six power forward and small forward for Miami Heat. On September 14th 2013 James married his high-school sweetheart Savannah Brinson in San Diego. His Nike shoes are his signature and his model have are so popular they have outsold any other players’ brand of shoe. He has recently turned his interests to presenting, hosting two awards ceremonies.

3 Kobe Bryant, basketball player

Total earnings $61.9 million, Salary $27.9 million, Endorsements $34 million

Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant is the richest basketball player in the world. Pic credit: Keith Allison under CC license

Los Angeles Lakers player Bryant has played in the All-NBA first team for eight consecutive years and is fourth on the all-time NBA highest scoring list. In 2003 Bryant was accused of sexually assaulting a hotel employee in Edwards, Colorado, but the prosecution dropped the case in September 2004 after his accuser refused to testify in court. He is the highest salaried NBA player earning $7million more than the next highest. His endorsements include Coca Cola, Mercedes Benz, Lenovo, Panini and Nike.

2. Roger Federer, tennis player

Total earnings $71.5 million, Salary/winnings $6.5 million, Endorsements $65 million

Roger Federer, one of the richest athletes in the world
Roger Federer makes much of his money from a sponsorship deal with Nike. Image by Marianne Bevis under CC license

The popular Swiss tennis player holds the record for the most single Grand Slam wins (17) and the most career prize money earned ($77million). Federer has been ranked in the world top ten continuously since October 2002. He has been married to former WTA player Mirka Vaurinec since 2009 and they have two sets of twins, daughters Myla Rose and Charlene Riva, and boys Leo and Lennart (Lenny). Federer has an impressive list of sponsors including ten who together pay him more than $40million annually. He also has multi-year deals with Wilson Sports, Nike, Credit Suisse and Rolex. His latest endorsement deal is with champagne maker Moet and Chandon.

1. Tiger Woods, golfer

Total earnings $78.1 million, Salary $13.1 million, Endorsements $65 million

Richest Athletes Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods is the richest athlete in the world. Image by Keith Allison under CC license

When Tiger Woods admitted to having affairs with a number of women he took leave from professional golf from December 2009 to April 2010 to try and save his marriage. But it resulted in a divorce from his wife Elin Nordegren and Woods lost his form and went through the roughest patch in his life. In November 2011 his ranking had slipped to fifty-eight in the world. But he is now back on form and is again top of the Golf World Rankings. Apart from the money stated above Woods has also made more than $10million in appearance money all around the world.

James has worked for Monsters and Critics since it started back in 2003. He oversees the business and technical side of things. You can contact... read more
James Wray

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