The sports world is full of incredible success stories. Athletes are making fortunes they never could have imagined when they entered their respective fields. Fan interest in each sport will see the leagues able to utilize the massive profits by paying the players more for contract negotiations. Meanwhile, the world of endorsement deals creates another dynamic to make many millions for the top athletes.
Sports stars are becoming wiser with their business investments too, to continue adding to their wealth with side projects. We will look at the ten athletes who are making the most money in the world just now, and how they're doing it.
10 Kevin Durant: $65 million
The move of Kevin Durant from the Golden State Warriors to the Brooklyn Nets shocked the basketball world. Durant already saw his brand rise after winning two NBA Championships and wanted a fresh start teaming with Kyrie Irving. The current status of Durant has him as the tenth richest athlete in the world.
Durant makes over $30 million on the basketball court, given his salary and bonuses as such a superstar player. The endorsement deals with brands like Nike and Google add another $35 million to Durant’s annual income. Another aspect of Durant’s wealth includes his various projects with start-ups in Silicon Valley.
9 Stephen Curry: $80 million
The former teammate of Kevin Durant is one spot ahead of him as the ninth-richest athlete in the world. Stephen Curry is the face of the Golden State Warriors and one of the major faces of the league, with star power that appeals to fans internationally.
Golden State pays Curry over $37 million, along with another $42 million coming from endorsement deals. Curry decided to sign a shoe deal with Under Armour over established brands like Nike and Adidas for the bigger pay. Chase and Nissan Motor also pay Curry the big bucks to add his name value to their marketing.
8 LeBron James: $89 million
LeBron James is one of the most famous athletes in the world and has the eighth spot on the list of richest athletes of 2019. The move to the Los Angeles Lakers would see James miss the playoffs for the first time in 14 years, but he still raked in major money.
James earned $36 million for his work on the court with the Lakers. The incredible list of sponsorships with Nike, Beats Electronics, Coca Cola and many other brands added $53 million to his income. LeBron is also quite savvy with his investments, like Blaze Pizza, to bring in even more money to his empire.
7 Aaron Rodgers: $89.3 million
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers made a tremendous business decision re-signing with the team ahead of the 2018 season. The extension would see him agree to make $134 million over four seasons with $80 million coming to him before March.
Rodgers is motivated to enter another season contending for a Super Bowl with such a big payday. The $9 million in endorsement deals is lower than the basketball stars on the list, but Rodgers certainly made up for it by getting his NFL money on the extension.
6 Russell Wilson: $89.5 million
The leverage of quarterback Russell Wilson would see him get a similar extension with the Seattle Seahawks after Aaron Rodgers received his. Wilson has been the face of the Seahawks franchise since entering the league and leading them to a Super Bowl win.
Seattle extended Wilson to a $157 million deal over five years along with a signing bonus. Wilson will collect $80.5 million in 2019 for his work on the field. Another $9 million is coming to his income from his endorsement deals.
5 Roger Federer: $93 million
Roger Federer has been a dominant superstar in the tennis world for over a decade now. He has an incredible history of match-ups against the other big names in tennis. Federer has an estimated $7.4 million from winnings, as only a fraction of his overall income.
An astonishing $86 million is added to Federer’s annual figure thanks to his endorsement deals. Brands like Mercedes Benz, Rolex, Uniqlo, Wilson Sporting Goods and a few others pay Federer huge money to endorse their products, thanks to his international appeal.
4 Canelo Alvarez: $94 million
The 52-1 record of Canelo Alvarez makes him the richest boxer of the year so far. Alvarez has only ever been defeated by undefeated retired boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. in his career. The drawing power of Alvarez has seen him progress into the top attraction for the sport.
Alvarez has seen most of his wealth coming from boxing alone, with $92 million from his earnings. Only $2 million of his income is from endorsement deals, the lowest of the top ten richest athletes. Regardless, Alvarez takes care of business in the ring to rise up the list of the sports stars making huge money.
3 Neymar: $105 million
The incredible success of Neymar on the soccer field has helped him become the third-richest athlete in the entire world. Neymar is known for his time playing for the French club Paris Saint-Germain and as a top star for Brazil in international competition.
An impressive $75 million from his winnings and earnings make up most of his income. Endorsement deals with brands like Nike, McDonald’s, Red Bull, Gillette and others add another $30 million per year. Neymar is clearly living the high life as a wealthy soccer superstar.
2 Cristiano Ronaldo: $109 million
The million-dollar smile of Cristiano Ronaldo helps earn him more than just a million bucks. Ronaldo is the second-richest athlete of 2019, thanks to his incredible soccer skills. The superstar plays for the Italian club Juventus and as the captain of Portugal's national team, earning $65 million.
Ronaldo adds another $44 million in endorsement deals for the entire year. The various brands to pay Ronaldo to endorse their products include Nike, Altice, EA Sports, Herbalife and a few others. Ronaldo uses his superb play to score goals and his marketability to score endorsement deals in every field.
1 Lionel Messi: $127 million
Lionel Messi is the richest athlete in the entire world (in 2019) as a soccer phenomenon. $92 million comes to Messi for his work on the field. Messi spends his time playing for Barcelona and the Argentina national team, both of which he captains.
Another $35 million comes to Messi each year thanks to his endorsement deals. Companies like Adidas, Gatorade, Mastercard, Pepsi and many others feel Messi is worth the hefty price tag to promote their products.