Many stars from different sports around the world end up taking the game to new heights. However, there are a few who become bigger than the game itself. Their presence is enough to draw the crowds and when they perform, the world stops and admires their talent.
Right from Michael Jordan, Roger Federer to Cristiano Ronaldo and Tiger Woods, sporting icons like these don’t just enjoy a huge fan following, but also take home the big bucks. Not just salaries for featuring in marquee tournaments, they earn a hefty amount from brand endorsements as well.
After adjusting for inflation, here are the Top 10 highest-paid athletes of all time
1. Michael Jordan ($2.62 Billion): Jordan tops the list of the highest-paid athletes of all time. Interestingly, only 6% of his total earnings come from his playing contracts with the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards. Michael turned pro in 1984 and has earned the big bucks through endorsements deals with a number of global brands like Nike, Gatorade, Hanes, and Upper Deck.
2. Tiger Woods ($2.1 Billion): Woods is undoubtedly one of the greatest golfers ever. No other golfer in history has been able to get past or even match Woods’ 82 PGA Tour victories, which include 15 major wins and nine victories in one year. Apart from earning loads of prize money, Woods, just like other athletes on this list, has made a fortune through brand endorsements.
3. Arnold Palmer ($1.5 Billion): An absolute legend of the game, Palmer turned pro back in 1954 and went on to have an incredible 62 PGA Tour victories and seven major wins. Such has been his impact on the game that now there are tournaments, equipment, and courses named after him. He earned around $885 Million in his career which after adjusting for inflation goes over $1.5 Billion.
4. Jack Nicklaus ($1.38 Billion): With 73 Tour victories and 18 major wins to his name, Jack Nicklaus is one of the greats of the game who had an illustrious career spanning over four decades. He joined the PGA Tour in 1962 was active till mid 2000s.
5. Cristiano Ronaldo ($1.24 Billion): A modern-day legend, Ronaldo in 2020 became the first active team-sport athlete to surpass $1 billion in career earnings. Named FIFA player of the year on as many as five occasions, Ronaldo is the most followed athlete in the world with over 500 million followers across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
6. Floyd Mayweather ($1.2 Billion): The most wealthy boxer in the history, Floyd loves cash more than anything and sure has a lot to flaunt. Apart from the earnings he has gathered from the sport, Floyd is also sponsored by brands like Hublot, Burger King, FanDuel.
7. LeBron James ($1.17 Billion): Another basketball legend on the list, James has put his hands into other fields as well which have earned him a lot of money. James is a Television producer, Screenwriter, Voice Actor as well. The billionaire who currently features for Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA is the only player to have won NBA championships with three franchises.
8. Lionel Messi ($1.14 Billion): Six Ballon d’Or winner, a record six European Golden Shoes winner, and named to the Ballon d’Or Dream Team in 2020, Messi is undoubtedly one of the most talented footballers in the history of the game. After spending a lot of time with Spanish club Barcelona, Messi recently started featuring for French Club PSG. Till now, he has earned over $1.05 Billion which goes up to $1.17 Billion after being adjusted for inflation.
9. Michael Schumacher ($1.13 Billion): The only Formula1 driver in the list, Schumacher started his professional career back in 1991 and ruled the race track till 2006. During his career, he endorsed innumerable brands like Shell, Marlboro, Vodafone, Deutsche Vermögensberatung, Mercedes Benz and CS Ranch which pushed his earnings to over a billion.
10. Roger Federer ($1.12 Billion): Regarded as one of the greatest tennis players of all time, Federer has won as many as 20 Grand Slam titles and is still going strong. Moreover, the man’s overall persona has made him a go-to man for global brands. The Swiss legend turned pro in 1998 and hasn’t looked back since then. His overall earnings stand at $1 Billion which raised to $1.12 Billion after adjusting for inflation.