• Top List

The 25 highest-paid athletes of all time have been revealed

Michael Jordan, Cristiano Ronaldo, Floyd Mayweather
Getty Images

Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and David Beckham are among the highest-paid athletes of all time in a list alongside other sporting greats.

The world’s 25 highest-paid athletes have been revealed.

Basketball legend Michael Jordan tops the list with estimated inflation-adjusted career earnings of $2.62 billion. Golf icons Tiger Woods ($2.1B), Arnold Palmer ($1.5B), and Jack Nicklaus ($1.38B) complete the top four.

As for the highest-paid non-American athlete, that honor goes to Cristiano Ronaldo – who is fifth on the overall list. The Portuguese’s estimated career earnings are $1.24 billion. Aside from a sweet salary at Manchester United, he has many commercial deals with the likes of Nike and Herbalife to boost his income. His strong social media following has helped increase his earnings to $1.24 billion.

Ronaldo’s nearest rival for this title is Lionel Messi. The PSG star is eighth on the overall list with career earnings of $1.14 billion. Former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder David Beckham joins the iconic duo in this list in 12th place with an estimated income of $1.05 billion.

The 25 highest-paid athletes

  • IAE = Inflation-Adjusted Earnings
  • NIAE = Non-Inflation Adjusted Earnings
1.Michael Jordan🇺🇸Basketball$2.62B$2.05B
2.Tiger Woods🇺🇸Golf$2.1B$1.66B
3.Arnold Palmer🇺🇸Golf$1.5B$885M
4.Jack Nicklaus🇺🇸Golf$1.38B$830M
5.Cristiano Ronaldo🇵🇹Football$1.24B$1.12B
6.Floyd Mayweather🇺🇸Boxing$1.2B$1.08B
7.LeBron James🇺🇸Basketball$1.17B$1.05B
8.Lionel Messi🇦🇷Football$1.14B$1.05B
9.Michael Schumacher🇩🇪Motorsport$1.13B$780M
10.Roger Federer🇨🇭Tennis$1.12B$1B
11.Phil Mickelson🇺🇸Golf$1.08B$885M
12.David Beckham🇬🇧Football$1.05B$880M
13.Kobe Bryant🇺🇸Basketball$930M$750M
14.Shaquille O’Neal🇺🇸Basketball$870M$645M
15.Greg Norman🇦🇺Golf$815M$555M
16.Mike Tyson🇺🇸Boxing$775M$445M
17.Alex Rodriguez🇺🇸Baseball$650M$515M
18.Manny Pacquiao🇵🇭Boxing$630M$550M
19.Kevin Durant🇺🇸Basketball$625M$580M
20.Lewis Hamilton🇬🇧Motorsport$620M$560M
22.Jeff Gordon🇺🇸Motorsport$595M$450M
23.Oscar de la Hoya🇺🇸Boxing$580M$405M
24.Peyton Manning🇺🇸American Football$570M$460M
25.Derek Jeter🇺🇸Baseball$555M$435M

How was this list made?

Sportrico made this list of highest-paid athletes. The business sports website estimated each athlete’s career earnings after doing the following actions:

  • Having conversations with industry insiders.
  • Viewing historical estimates from other media outlets.
  • Assessing career earnings (salaries, prize money, purses, bonuses, endorsements, etc).
  • Researching equity stakes in sponsor companies.

The earnings were adjusted for inflation during each athlete’s career and retirement and were calculated until the time of death for golf icon Arnold Palmer and NBA legend Kobe Bryant.

For details about Cristiano Ronaldo’s net worth and how he makes his money outside of football, check out the link here.