Who Is the Highest Paid Sports Athlete in the World?

Cristiano Ronaldo is currently the highest paid sports athlete in the world, making an estimated $88 million dollars per year.

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In recent years, there has been a trend of professional athletes earning massive contracts. For example, in 2017, franchise quarterback Kirk Cousins signed a three-year, $84 million deal with the Minnesota Vikings. In baseball, outfielder Giancarlo Stanton agreed to a 13-year, $325 million contract with the Miami Marlins in 2014. These contracts represent a large financial commitment from the team to the player and are usually only given to superstar athletes.

So, who is the highest paid sports athlete in the world? The answer may surprise you. According to Forbes’ list of the world’s highest paid athletes for 2020, boxer Floyd Mayweather tops the list with earnings of $106 million. This is followed by Cristiano Ronaldo ($105 million) and Lionel Messi ($104 million). Interestingly, all three athletes are from different sports.

The list includes 100 athletes from 21 different countries and 10 different sports. Of these 100 athletes, basketball players make up the most with 35 representatives. This is followed by baseball (19), football (13), soccer (9), auto racing (6), boxing and tennis (4 each), golf (3), mixed martial arts (2), and one each for cricket and bowling.

The United States has the most athletes on the list with 63 Representatives. This is followed by Japan (8) , France (7) , Brazil (6) , and Canada , Germany , Spain , and Switzerland with 3 Representatives each.

The Highest Paid Athletes in the World

Forbes recently released their list of the highest paid athletes in the world and there are some surprising names on the list. The top spot goes to soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo, who earned $88 million in salary and endorsements. NBA player LeBron James comes in a close second with $85.5 million. The rest of the top 10 includes tennis player Roger Federer, NFL quarterback Tom Brady, and more.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo is a Portuguese professional soccer player who has a net worth of $500 million. He is currently the highest paid soccer player in the world, as well as the highest paid athlete in the world. Ronaldo signed a contract with Juventus in 2018 that pays him an annual salary of $64 million. In 2020, Forbes ranked Ronaldo as the world’s first billionaire footballer and he was also ranked as the world’s greatest substituted player of all time by The Guardian. He has won five Ballon d’Or awards, four European Golden Shoe awards, and three FIFA World Player of the Year awards.

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi, the world-famous soccer player, is the highest paid athlete in the world. Messi, who plays for Spanish club FC Barcelona and the Argentina national team, earned an estimated $127 million in 2020. This includes $92 million from salary and bonuses and $35 million from endorsements. He is also the only soccer player in the top 10 highest paid athletes list.

Messi’s earnings put him well ahead of second-highest paid athlete Cristiano Ronaldo, who earned an estimated $105 million in 2020. Ronaldo, like Messi, also plays soccer. He currently plays for Italian club Juventus and the Portugal national team. The majority of Ronaldo’s earnings come from his salary and bonuses, which amount to $70 million. He earns an additional $35 million from endorsements.

LeBron James

LeBron Raymone James Sr. (/ləˈbrɒn/; born December 30, 1984) is an American professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He is widely considered to be one of the greatest players in NBA history. James played basketball for St. Vincent–St. Mary High School in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, where he was highly promoted in the national media as a future NBA superstar. A prep-to-pro, he joined the Cleveland Cavaliers directly out of high school in 2003.

James quickly emerged as one of the league’s best players; he was named the NBA Rookie of the Year in 2003–04 and an All-Star in his first season. He would go on to become a nine-time All-Star, be voted onto the All-NBA First Team six times, and win four NBA MVP Awards. In 2006, he led Cleveland to their first Finals appearance since 1997 and their first championship since 1964 with a crushing victory over perennial Eastern Conference powerhouse Detroit Pistons. Facing elimination in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals against Boston, James scored 48 points –– including his now iconic “chasedown” block of Celtics’ forward Kevin Garnett with less than two minutes left –– to stave off elimination and force a Game 7, which Cleveland ultimately lost. After another second-round postseason exit for the Cavs in 2007, James publicly announced his intention to leave Cleveland when his contract expired following the 2010 season.

In July 2010, James announced he would sign with Miami Heat president Pat Riley and join forces with fellow All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to form a “Big Three”. The Heat completed their grand plan by going 66–16 during the 2010–11 regular season before defeating both the Eastern Conference top seed Chicago Bulls and Western Conference top seed Oklahoma City Thunder en route to their second ever finals appearance. James won back-to-back NBA championships with Miami by defeating Dallas Mavericks in six games during both 2011 and 2012 finals; he was awarded Finals MVP both times as well as regular season MVP for 2012. After returning to Miami for four seasons from 2014 through 2017 ––– James rejected overtures from former Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert prior to rejoining them ahead of 2017–18 campaign ––– he again became a free agent prior to 2018–19 season whereupon he agreed once more to return home by signing with Los Angeles Lakers via four-year contract worth $154 million maximum salary slot level exception under collective bargaining agreement salary cap rules which removed any doubt remaining about him becoming longtime member organization’s all time high paid player while also making significant contribution towards team owner Jerry Buss’s personal net worth increase along way while bolstering club’s significant global fan base reach increase alongside fellow world famous superstar colleague Anthony Davis whose trade acquisition helped expedite process towards attainment eventuality happy ending eventual outcome resolution resolution result satisfied denouement dénouement definitive end closure consummation culmination .

As mentioned earlier LeBron Raymone James Sr./ləˈbrɒn/ (born December 30, 1984) is an American professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers of National Basketball Association (NBA) & widely considered to be one of greatest players in NBA history who also played role in numerous movies/TV shows such as Trainwreck (2015), Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021) etc while also being business mogul who has endorsement deals with many companies such as Coca Cola, Beats by Dre etc & has own production company called Springhill Entertainment & owns part of Liverpool Football Club


In conclusion, there is no definitive answer to the question of who is the highest paid sports athlete in the world. While Ronaldo and Messi may top the list in recent years, there are a number of other athletes who earn high salaries and endorsements. The answer may depend on a number of factors, including the athlete’s sport, country of origin, and popularity.

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