When I got the idea for this list, I honestly thought that the richest athletes in Rio would pretty much consist of the US Men’s Basketball team. It is no surprise that NBA players make big money, but I was surprised to find that there were golfers, tennis players, track stars, soccer players, and a lone swimmer, all that make more than some of the US Men’s basketball team.
What is also surprising about this group of people is that there are athletes that make more who simply weren’t in the games. The first time I heard that neither LeBron nor Steph Curry were in the Olympics, I was shocked. Not only are they two of the highest paid players in the NBA, but they are two of the supposed best players in the game today. Where were they? Why are they not playing to help their country get another gold medal?
There’s something about the Olympics I have always loved. Sure it is one thing to be one of the greatest athletes in your own country, but to bring it to the world stage is another. Proving you’re one of the greatest athletes in the world is no small feat. Here is a list of some of the best, and certainly the highest paid athletes who were in the Rio games.
15 Kyrie Irving - Net Worth: $30 Million
Kyrie Irving is best known for playing on the Cleveland Cavaliers alongside LeBron James. He was born in Melbourne, Australia, and moved to the United States when he was just two years old. Irving played only one season under Coach K at Duke, before he was the first round pick in 2011, where he was drafted to the Cavaliers.
14 Usain Bolt - Net Worth: $30 Million
I think of all the athletes who are dominant in their sports, Usain Bolt is probably the most likable. Despite the fact that he has been the biggest name in running for the past three Olympic games, he is still easily one of the most playful guys out there. He dances before his meets, he jokes around with the other guys, and he always shakes hands and congratulates people. The Jamaican superstar is just fun, plain and simple.
13 Kyle Lowry - Net Worth: $38 Million
The Philadelphia native is a first-time member of the US Men’s Basketball Team. After two years at Villanova, he was a first-round pick in the NBA in 2006 and went with the Memphis Grizzlies. Since then he has been traded from the Houston Rockets, to the Toronto Raptors, where he has called home since 2012. As a player, he is starting to find his own with the Raptors, being picked as an NBA all-star the past two seasons, and helping the Raptors make an appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time.
12 Sergio Garcia - Net Worth: $40 Million
If you don’t follow international golf, then you might not know who Sergio Garcia is and, if you do, well then you’ve known about this guy for a while. He turned pro in 1999, which was the year he became quite popular internationally after he came in second to Tiger Woods in the PGA Tour. Since ’99 he has had 9 PGA Tour wins, 11 European Tour wins, and 5 Asian Tour wins. And while he has been successful in his own right, he has never won any of golf’s major championships, while coming quite close.
11 Jose Calderon - Net Worth: $48 Million
Jose Calderon is a Spanish basketball player, who currently plays in the NBA. Before he made the trip over to the United States, Calderon started his professional career in Spain in 1998, at the age of 17. Most basketball players I knew at 17 would have been happy to play in college at any level, let alone play professionally. He played for three teams in Spain, until 2005, when the Toronto Raptors recruited him, where he played for seven years. Since 2013 he has been traded from the Pistons, to the Mavericks, to the Knicks, to just recently the Lakers.
10 Michael Phelps - Net Worth: $55 Million
Do I have to explain who Michael Phelps is? We all know that he is a Baltimore-born swimmer who has changed swimming, and the Olympics, forever. His first visit to the Olympics was back in 2000 in Sydney, at the age of 15. When I was 15 I didn’t even know how to do the butterfly - I was lucky I could swim more than one lap back then. Since his debut in 2000 he has won more Olympic gold medals than any other person (and some countries) and a handful of World Championships, and broken and rebroken world records.
9 Neymar da Silva Santos Junior - Net Worth: $75 Million
If you missed the gold medal match between Brazil and Germany for men’s soccer, then you missed out on one of the most dramatic ends to a game I have ever seen. Neymar, while also being the captain of the Brazilian squad, shot the last penalty kick to beat Germany, bringing Brazil their very first gold medal in the sport.
8 Venus Williams - Net Worth: $75 Million
The older of the two Williams sisters, Venus, started her professional tennis career in 1994, at the age of 14. She was playing in professional tournaments before I even made the JV basketball team. A huge reason for how much these athletes have is due to how long they have been in their sports. Venus has been a prominent figure for longer than some of the US Gymnasts have been alive.
7 Nene Hilario - Net Worth: $81.9 Million
Maybyner Rodney Hilário, better known as Nene (which means baby in Portuguese), was playing for the Brazilian team before they lost to Lithuania. The nickname Nene was due to being the youngest in his family, and friends growing up. Could you imagine calling the 6’11 Brazilian, baby? He was the first Brazilian ever to be a first round pick in the NBA. In 2008, while playing for the Denver Nuggets, he took a hiatus from basketball due to a cancer scare. Only three months after having the tumor removed, he returned to the court.
6 Andy Murray - Net Worth: $85 Million
Andy Murray is one of the greatest tennis players currently, ranked number 2 by the ATP. Murray turned pro in 2005 when he was just 18. For most of us, this is a year away from graduating high school, maybe become freshmen in college, possibly get drunk for the first time - not become professional athletes.
5 Carmelo Anthony - Net Worth: $85 Million
Carmelo Anthony is one of the veterans on the US Men’s Basketball Team, holding two gold medals, and one bronze. Not many NBA players have been in as many Olympics as Anthony, but not many players have been in the game quite as long. Anthony spent one year in Syracuse in 2002, where he helped to bring them their very first NCAA title. He was the third overall pick in the NBA draft in 2003 to the Denver Nuggets. After seven seasons in Denver, he was traded to the Knicks.
4 Kevin Durant - Net Worth: $100 Million
Definitely the most well-known member of the US Men’s Basketball Team, Kevin Durant is, without a doubt, the highest paid member of that team. Even if you don’t watch the NBA, even if you don’t like basketball, I am sure you’ve heard Durant's name before. His professional career started after only one year of NCAA ball at Texas, when he was the number one draft pick in 2007.
3 Rafael Nadal - Net Worth: $125 Million
I don’t think I realized just how much tennis players make before writing this list. But apparently, they make uber bucks. Rafael Nadal is one of the greatest tennis players currently, already donning a gold in Rio, and is currently ranked number 5 by the ATW. The Spanish tennis player also has the nickname “The King Of Clay” due to how successful he has been on the surface. I wonder if the Spanish pay extra for tennis players that are dominant on clay courts as opposed to hard ones? Well, you definitely don’t get paid chump change with a nickname like that.
2 Novak Djokovic - Net Worth: $130 Million
This is one of the more surprising athletes on the list, especially for an American who rarely watches tennis. For those of you who totally understand tennis, and watch each and every grand slam, Wimbledon, and all of the opens, then this is probably no surprise to you. Novak is one of the most decorated athletes in the sport today and is ranked number one by the AWT. His professional career started in 2003 but wasn’t a real threat on the national stage until 2006. During that year Great Britain even tried to get Djokovic to move from Serbia, so that he could play for them instead. Personally, I feel like if a country is trying to persuade you into moving there and playing for them, you have made it as an athlete.
1 Serena Williams - Net Worth: $145 Million
This one shouldn’t be a shocker. Serena has been one of the most dominant athletes in her sport since the ‘90s. Her career started before most of us make varsity in high school, at the age of 14. And while it took a couple of years for her to be the powerhouse that we know her as today, don’t you think it’s pretty impressive that while most of us were learning about algebra, Serena was playing tennis against some of the top players in the world?
Under her belt, she has 21 grand slams, 69 singles titles, 6 US Open titles, 6 Wimbledon titles, 6 Australian Open titles, 22 doubles titles, 3 French Open titles, 2 mixed doubles titles, and 4 gold medals. Beyond that, she is one of the most decorated tennis players of all time - and she has probably been in her sport a decade longer than most of the athletes on this list. And while I am sure that tennis players rake in a good amount of money, it doesn’t hurt that she is constantly on Gatorade, Nike, and is sponsored by both Wilson and OPI. Who wouldn’t want one of the most decorated female athletes of all time as their spokesperson?
Sources: Heavy, Forbes, Time, Bankrate, USA Today
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