Who Are The World’s Highest-Paid Athletes?
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Who Are The World’s Highest-Paid Athletes?

December 7, 2021 Share

From Naomi Osaka to Conor McGregor. Here are some of the top 2021 highest-paid athletes in the world as told by Forbes.

The pandemic may have side-lined athletes or forced them to play with empty seats in competitive bubbles but sportsmen around the world are still proving that 2020 was financially competitive compared to years prior. Here are some of the top highest-paid athletes in the world over the past year as told by Forbes:

Naomi Osaka, 22

Yearly Salary For Playing Tennis: $37 Million (£28 Million)
Total Net Worth: $60 Million

Image courtesy of Getty

Naomi Osaka is a Japanese professional tennis player. She has been ranked No. 1 by the Women’s Tennis Association and is the first Asian player to hold the top ranking in singles as well as the first player from Japan – man or woman – to reach No. 1.

Naomi Osaka was only a year old when Serena Williams won her first grand slam title in 1999. Now the 22-year-old ace has beaten her legendary rival once again, this time for bragging rights as the highest-paid female athlete in the world.

Osaka earned $37 million in the last 12 months from prize money and endorsements, setting an all-time earnings record for any female athlete in a single year.


Kevin Durant, 33

Yearly Salary For Playing Basketball: $42 Million (£31 Million)
Total Net Worth: $200 Million

Image Courtesy of Rsquare

Kevin Wayne Durant, also known simply by his initials KD, is an American professional basketball player for the Brooklyn Nets of the National Basketball Association. 

Not only is he a big name in basketball but a high-up businessman. He was an early investor in Postmates, and he gained “a $15 million profit after the company got bought by Uber.” Those are just a few things he has made off the court – excluding brand deals and endorsements.


Tom Brady, 44

Yearly Salary For Playing American Football: $75 Million (£56 Million)
Total Net Worth: $250 Million

Image courtesy of Getty

Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. is an American football quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the National Football League. “He spent his first 20 seasons with the New England Patriots, where he was a central contributor to the franchise’s dynasty from 2001 to 2019.”

At the age of 43, Brady just won his seventh NFL championship ring with Tamper Bay. From sponsorship deals with brands like Under Armour and Molecule, it’s easy to see why he is considered one of the best quarterbacks ever.


Lewis Hamilton, 36

Yearly Salary For Formula One Driving: $82 Million (£61 Million)
Total Net Worth: $260 Million

Image courtesy of formula1

Sir Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton is a British racing driver. He currently competes in Formula One for Mercedes, having previously driven for McLaren from 2007 to 2012. Lewis Hamilton is the face of racing cars.

If he wins this year’s F1 standings, he will surpass Michael Schumacher to become the only F1 driver to obtain eight world titles. Due to his success and market appeal, he also collects the most money off the track. His biggest sponsor deals come from Tommy Hilfiger, Puma and many more.


Roger Federer, 40

Yearly Salary For Playing Tennis: $90 Million (£68 Million)

Total Net Worth: $450 Million

Roger Federer is a Swiss professional tennis player. Even though he only played two matches in the last year due to injury, Roger Federer is still the highest-paid tennis player in the world. He is the golden standard for advertising due to his reputation.

Roger Federer |  Highest-Paid Athletes

The tennis-playing legend is connected to some of the most luxurious brands in the world, including Rolex.

He is ranked No. 16 in the world by the Association of Tennis Professionals and has won 20 Grand Slam men’s singles titles, an all-time record shared with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.


LeBron James, 36

Yearly Salary For Playing Basketball: $96.5 Million (£73 Million)

Total Net Worth: $850 Million

In his 18th MBA season, at the age of 36, LeBron James is still going strong as the worlds best basketball player in the world. Today he is the highest-paid basketball player eight times in a row. 

Lebron James |  Highest-Paid Athletes

He then signed with the Miami Heat and won two championships before returning to the Cavaliers in 2014. James joined the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association in 2018. He has been playing with them for 36 years now.


Dakota Prescott, 28

Yearly Salary For Playing American Football: $107 Million (£78 Million)
Total Net Worth: $40 Million

Dakota Prescott |  Highest-Paid Athletes

Rayne Dakota Prescott is an American football quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League. As the NFL salary cap continues to balloon, the best quarterbacks in the league will continue to occupy the lists of the highest-paid athletes.

Having signed a four-year $160 million deal with the Dallas Cowboys, along with a further $66 million signing bonus and endorsements, it’s no wonder this football player sits at number four. 


Cristiano Ronaldo, 36

Yearly Salary For Playing Football: $120 Million (£90 Million)
Total Net Worth: $500 Million

Cristiano Ronaldo |  Highest-Paid Athletes

One of the most talented and successful players in football history is Cristiano Ronaldo. In 2003 at the age of 18 years old, Cristiano Ronaldo was signed to Manchester United where he helped the team win three consecutive Premier League titles. 

In 2009 his transfer to Rio Madrid was worth $132 million was during that time the most expensive transfer known. 

He has won numerous awards and has set a long list of titles during his football career. Today he is still Rio Madrid’s top scorer. Ronaldo is also the most followed human on the planet when it comes to social media. 

His salary and endorsement deals with Nike have given him a whopping $500 million to his name.  


Lionel Messi, 34

Yearly Salary For Playing Football: $130 Million (£98 Million)
Total Net Worth: $400 Million

Lionel Messi |  Highest-Paid Athletes

Next, we are focussing on Lionel Messi, the incredible athlete who is considered by many to be the best football player in the world right now and the greatest of all time. 

It was clear from an early age that he was gifted as he made his professional debut at the age of 17 in 2004. He is the only FIFA player to have won five Ballon d’Or awards. He is also Argentina’s all-time leading goal-scorer.

Messi’s success, passion, ability and dominance in his field is a source of inspiration. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Renaldo will be linked for life due to their astonishing rivalry for the status of the football king. Each year they battle it out for the top spot in sports.

But this year Messi took the cake as he is currently earning $97 million a year due to his current contract with FC Barcelona and even more from endorsements, branding and promotional packages within advertising.


Conor McGregor, 33

Yearly Salary For Mixed Martial Arts: $180 Million (£135 Million)
Total Net Worth: $200 Million

For the first time ever, Irish mixed martial artist and professional boxer, Conor McGregor is the highest-paid athlete in the world. 

Conor Mcgregor |  Highest-Paid Athletes

McGregor started his sporting career in 2008 and in 2012 he held the cage warriors feather-weight title as well as the light-weight. This made him the first European MMA fighter to hold titles simultaneously.

His bold style and incredible fighting ability have also made him the biggest paper view draw in MMA history.

After selling a huge stake in his Proper Number 12 whiskey brand, he earned $150 million alone, out of the ring. Not to mention a number of brand deals along the way.


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Author: Michelle Laver
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Conor McGregor
Cristiano Renaldo
Dakota Prescott
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Kevin Durant
LeBron James
Lewis Hamilton
Lionel Messi
Naomi Osaka
Roger Federer