2022 Updated List: Top 10 Highest Paid Athletes in the World

Top 10 Highest Paid Athletes in the World

The former FC Barcelona, talisman Lionel Messi leads the way for the highest-paid player in world football ahead of the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. Research however has it that Lionel Messi was only 17 when he began suiting up for the top squad at FC Barcelona, so it was more than a little jarring when, after 17 seasons, he left the only professional home he had ever known to transfer to Paris Saint-Germain last August.

With a total of $130 million in pre-tax gross earnings over the last 12 months, Messi claims the top spot in the annual ranking of the world’s highest-paid athletes, leading the list for the second time

After an emotional exit from FC Barcelona due to La Liga’s financial regulations, the 34-year-old completed a sensational free transfer to PSG and the Ligue 1 club made the 34-year-old Argentine forward the best-paid footballer in the world.

The Argentine star’s salary is down some $22 million from his final year with Barcelona—to $75 million this season at PSG—a major boost in endorsements helps him equal the record 12-month total for a soccer player he posted last year.

Cristiano Ronaldo on the other hand, who also switched teams in 2021/2022 summer, moving from Juventus to Manchester United has landed at No. 3 this year with a total of $115 million. The Athlete that put a demarcation between the two is the Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James with $121.2 million, crushing the $96.5 million record for an NBA player that he set last year. Los Angeles Lakers’ super star becomes only the tenth athlete ever to surpass $100 million in a single year, a milestone Messi and Ronaldo have now reached five times each.

Let’s Take A Look At Top 10 Highest Paid Athletes in the World 2022

Lionel Messi


The 34-year old’s $20 million-a-year partnership with Socios adds to an endorsement portfolio that includes Adidas, Budweiser and PepsiCo. Lionel Andreas Messi also became Hard Rock International’s first athlete brand ambassador in a deal announced last June, helping him draw level with Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo with his off-field earnings for the first time since 2013.

The Argentine international won the Ballon d’Or in 2021 as the world’s best men’s soccer player, but he has had a tougher time on the pitch more recently, scoring just nine goals in 32 appearances for Paris Saint-Germain after notching 38 in 47 games in his final season for Barcelona.

On-Field: $75 Million
Off-Field: $55 Million
Total: $130 MILLION

LeBron James


Los Angeles Lakers super star LeBron James missed the playoffs this season, but he’s never been so dominant off the court. According to Forbes’ estimates in October, James sold a significant minority stake in SpringHill which is the production company behind both projects at a valuation of about $725 million, pushing his net worth to $850 million,

The 37-year old NBA star have endorsement deal with Crypto.com in January, James appeared in a Super Bowl commercial next to a computer-generated version of his younger self. Again, he has also invested in home gym company Tonal and StatusPRO, a sports tech startup that creates virtual reality training products.

On-court: $41.2 Million
Off-Field: $80 Million
Total: $121.2 MILLION

Cristiano Ronaldo


After making a legendary return to Manchester United, it has been said that Cristiano Ronaldo has had a disappointing first season with his new team, at Old Trafford stuck in sixth place in the Premier League standings with one game remaining.

The Portuguese’s earning power comes from his massive social media presence, where he has an a estimate of over 690 million followers across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, giving him leverage to demand sky-high rates from sponsors such as Nike, Herbalife and Clear shampoo. The 37-year old also invest in in many things like Tatel restaurants, including a new location in Beverly Hills and is the face of ZujuGP, a forthcoming app aiming to be a digital soccer community.

On-Field: $60 Million
Off-Field: $55 Million
Total: $115 MILLION



Just like Ronaldo and Messi, Neymar has Off the field, he has a valuable set of endorsements, including Puma and Red Bull, and he is the subject of a new Netflix docuseries, Neymar: The Perfect Chaos. The Brazilian international is also diving into the world of NFTs, signing with the platform NFTSTAR in November and spending over $1 million on two Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs in one day in January.

On-Field: $70 Million
Off-Field: $25 Million
Total: $95 MILLION

Stephen Curry


It has been brought to our understanding that no NBA player made more in salary this season than Stephen Curry, and the Golden State Warriors guard is due for a raise after signing a four-year, $215 million extension last August. Forbes report has it that Stephen Curry, make roughly $48 million on the court next season, rising to just under $60 million in 2025-26.

On-Court: $45.8 Million
Off-Court: $47 Million
Total: $92.8 MILLION

Kevin Durant


Kevin Durant is a Brooklyn Nets star, who brings in roughly $28 million annually from Nike, a sneaker deal surpassed only by LeBron James’ ($32 million) among active players. The 33-year old recently added deals with Coinbase, NBA Top Shot and Weedmaps, but with media company Boardroom and investment firm Thirty Five Ventures, his business empire goes far beyond endorsements.

On-Court: $42.1 Million
Off-Court: $50 Million
Total: $92.1 MILLION

Roger Federer


The world’s former No. 1 player remains the top pitchman in sports, promoting brands such as Uniqlo and Rolex. Roger Federer also invested in the burgeoning Swiss shoe brand On in 2019, and the company went public in September, raising more than $600 million.

On-court: $0.7 Million
Off-Court: $90 Million
Total: $90.7 MILLION

Canelo Alvarez


Canelo Alvarez has an earning of $40 million or more from his two pay-per-view victories last May and November. The 31-year old also have some lucrative partnership with Hennessy and owns a taco restaurant in his native Mexico, with plans to expand to California.

On-Ring: $85 Million
Off-Ring: $5 Million
Total: $90 MILLION

Tom Brady


Tom Brady is a former Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who’s Autograph the NFT platform Brady co-founded last year, raised $170 million in a Series B funding round announced in January, and Religion of Sports, the production company he co-founded with Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Strahan and filmmaker Gotham Chopra, unveiled a content deal with Skydance Sports in March.

On-Field: $31.9 Million
Off-Field: $52 Million
Total: $83.9 MILLION

Giannis Antetokounmpo


Milwaukee Bucks star, Giannis Antetokounmpo is the only member of this year’s top ten still in his 20s. Giannis Antetokounmpo is among the investors in timepiece resale platform WatchBox’s $165 million funding round announced in November, and he has also signed a licensing deal with NFT platform NFTSTAR and added WhatsApp and Google’s Pixel 6 phone to his endorsement stable.

On-Court: $39.9 Million
Off-Court: $41 Million
Total: $80.9 MILLION

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