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Sports as a Profession: The World's Highest-Paid Athletes

It has long been known that sports bring a lot of money if a person is strong, hardy and has talent. Since childhood, parents often give children in the sports section. Only a few can become champions, and this way is difficult. But success will bring a consistently high income and recognition from the whole world.

We present the rating of the highest-paid athletes and find out what sports have the highest salaries. The assessment was made on the basis of data from Forbes magazine.

How the amount of contracts of athletes is determined

Recognized athletes have several varieties of official income. Even if it is not world-class, the person may be locally recognizable.

An athlete's earnings are made up of several items of income:

  • official salary (paid by the club or the state);
  • advertising contracts with sports brands;
  • participation in third-party advertising (promotion of cars, toothpaste, cell phones, and so on).

Also, an athlete can start his own business of any kind and develop it in the future. Advertising has become a regular source of income for many athletes. The advertiser offers a certain amount, a contract is drawn up. With this question everything is very simple. But how is the amount of the contract with a high-paid athlete determined?

The pricing process in this case is unique. The most striking example in this case is soccer. Athletes move from club to club, their cost and salary changes. The transfer price is not really composed of any factors. Private clubs calculate whether a player can bring income to the club in the near future, compensating for the amounts spent on him.


Soccer is one of the most expensive sports

The amount of salary is negotiated separately. Sports professionals argue that it is taken from the ceiling. In addition, the athlete can get:

  • "lifting" funds;
  • bonuses for any achievements.

Agents work with athletes who receive 5-20% of their salary as personal income.

If we talk about the salaries of athletes in general, the total amount is made up of the wages of the club he plays for and the wages of the national team, if he is part of it. The latter income is usually controlled by the Ministry of Sports. The salary is increased based on the personal achievements of the athlete.

Let's talk about the highest-paid athletes of today and tell us about those who have managed to earn the largest sums in the history of sports.

Top 10 highest-paid athletes

2023 год принес много открытий в спорте, сменились обладатели различных титулов, кто-то завершил карьеру, а кто-то стал ярким новичком. Ниже представлен рейтинг самых высокооплачиваемых спортсменов современности.

10th place - Matthew Stafford (American soccer)

The sport is considered the most popular in the U.S. Not surprisingly, players earn high salaries, they are recognized on the streets, they are a national treasure. Stafford, 30 years old, is one of the most productive players in the NFL (National Football League).

Matthew Stafford

Matthew Stafford

His contract with the Detroit Lions brought him $59.5 million. Major accomplishments:

  • ranks among the five National League quarterbacks with more than 5,000 yards passing in a single season;
  • PRO Bowl MVP on offense in 2014.
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Additionally has sponsorship advertising contracts with PepsiCo, Nike, Ford Motors and other American companies.

9th place - Matt Ryan (American soccer)

Another member of the U.S. NFL considered a high-paid player . Represents the Atlanta Falcons, and his contract was renewed in the spring of 2018 for a five-year term. The player has a total annual income of 67.3 million $ according to Forbes ranking magazine.

Matt Ryan

Matt Ryan

Matt Ryan is 33 years old and has advertising agreements with car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz, sports brand Nike, and U.S. airline Delta Airlines. Highly paid athlete's special achievements:

  • Falcons 2007 record for yards and touchdowns on a pass;
  • Three times participated in the PRO Bowl;
  • No. 77 on the 2016 National League Top 100 Player of the Year list.

8th place - Stephen Curry (basketball)

Curry's 2017 contract with Golden State Warriors broke all records for the amount. The basketball player's annual salary increased threefold. The final profit will be a guaranteed 201 million.

Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry

The basketball player has active advertising contracts with JBL, Nissan Infinity, Chase. Stephen Curry is 30 years old and has personal accomplishments:

  • World Cup gold (2010);
  • World Cup gold (2014);
  • 2015, '17 and '18 NBA champion.

The basketball player has a total annual income of $76.9 million, putting him on the list of the world's highest-paid athletes and NBA players at the same time in one year.

7th place - Roger Federer (Grand Tennis)

The thirty-seven-year-old tennis player from Basel, Switzerland, is not only a highly paid athlete, but also the most productive tennis player in the world. Last year he did everything he could to take his professional tennis career to the next level, but he lost the world number one title. Federer, having become the most financially successful tennis player, has not lost his popularity and has consolidated records.

Roger Federer

Roger Federer

The personal achievements of the most cash tennis player:

  • 20 Grand Slam titles as a single player;
  • For 237 weeks he remained at the top of the world ranking without a break;
  • Eight-time Wimbledon champion;
  • Olympic doubles champion in 2008.

Federer's advertising agreements have not been interrupted for 5-10 years. He performs in Nike shoes, owns a Wilson racket perfectly, wears Uniqlo. Recently, the pasta brand Barilla became a regular partner of the tennis player. Federer's total income for 2018 is estimated at $77200000.

6th place - LeBron James (basketball)

Список 2023 года самых высокооплачиваемых и известных в мире спортсменов был бы неполным без этого баскетболиста. С 2014 года он играл на позиции легкого форварда в баскетбольной команде «Кливленд Кавальерс», общий суммарный доход от сотрудничества с которой принес ему более 85 млн. американских долларов (за 3,5 года). Однако, неожиданно для всех в 2018 году Леброн перешел в именитый «Лос-Анджелес Лейкерс». Годовой доход превышает 85 миллионов.

LeBron James

LeBron James in the game

The main achievements of the athlete:

  • The most prolific player in the Basketball Association in 2008;
  • 2017 NBA RF leader in (minutes);
  • America's champion in 2007;
  • Two-time Olympic champion in 2008 and 2012.
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LeBron is not just a high-paid National League (NBA) basketball player, he knows how to make money and participates in charity. In 2017, James announced a big plan dedicated to children in Ohio. It is supposed to open a school with personal money and help with the education of decent teenagers in colleges in the state. The amount of help - 41 million $.

In addition, LeBron James previously announced the opening of his own production studio. Owns 2% shares of Liverpool FC.

5th place - Neymar (soccer)

The Brazilian footballer moved to France's Paris Saint-Germain in 2017, his official salary and prize money reached 73 million, with sponsorship deals bringing in another 17 million, including advertising fees. He plays in the position of striker and is captain of the Brazilian national team.



The contract with Paris Saint-Germain made Neymar the highest paid and most expensive footballer in the world:

  • Spain's top scorer in the 2014 and 2015 Spanish Cup seasons;
  • The best player of the 2018 FIFA World Cup 1/8 finals match;
  • 2018 French champion.

The footballer is not the current European champion, but experts say that he has everything ahead of him. Neymar is only 26 years old, and the company Nike (brand Air Jordan) has developed for him the branded boots.

4th place - Conor McGregor (MMA)

Irishman McGregor is known to the world not only as the highest-paid athlete, but also as a strong fighter. It would seem that thanks to a successful fight with Mayweather, Conor has earned a record $85000000, and there is nowhere else to aim. It turned out not to be.

Conor McGregor

Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather

McGregor was the winner of two awards at the same time:

  • UFC featherweight champion;
  • UFC lightweight champion.

A lack of breakthroughs in the welterweight division stripped McGregor of his belt in 2016, at which time Conor's partners decided that he would participate in the tournament in fall 2018. The fight with Russian Khabib Nurmagomedov was one of the most highly anticipated, however, McGregor was weaker.

The fighter has a great team that knows how to make money. Thanks to them, he gets many times more for his fights than before. For comparison, Conor received 1 million more than his opponent for his fight with Khabib alone. The high-paid fighter's profit for the year was 99 million $.

3rd place - Cristiano Ronaldo (soccer)

The Portuguese soccer star is among the top paid athletes in the world thanks to his achievements:

  • European champion in 2016;
  • the soccer player who has won three consecutive FIFA trophy goals;
  • Real Madrid's top scorer since its founding date (1902).
Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo

The joyous event of 2017: Cristiano receives the Golden Ball as the best footballer in Europe. In 2018 he left Real Madrid for Italian Juventus of his own accord, which really upset the fans. The transfer amounted to 112 million euros. The athlete has a contract until 2022 with a salary of 30 million euros per year. If you add prize money and advertising income, the total amount received by the highly paid athlete is $108000000.

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Fans hope that Ronaldo as the best footballer of modern Europe will bring Juventus more victories. Ronaldo is engaged in charity.

2nd place - Lionel Messi (soccer)

The Barça striker is the highest paid soccer player in modern times. Messi's labor income alone is estimated at 111 million $. The Argentine national team salary is also taken into account. Awards:

  • was awarded the FIFA Ballon d'Or three times;
  • Four times awarded the Golden Boot statuette;
  • won the Spanish championship with Bercelona (nine times);
  • 2008 Olympic champion.
Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi

After 2007, he competed with the highly paid Cristiano Ronaldo for the title of Europe's best player, the Golden Ball went from one to the other. Unfortunately for fans, this winning streak was broken in 2018, when Croatian world champion Luka Modric became the winner for the first time since 2007.

Messi finished the 2017-2018 season, his contract with the club remained in force. A year earlier, his earnings were more than 120 million.

1st place - Floyd Mayweather (boxing)

Absolute world boxing champion Floyd Mayweather of the United States is the highest-paid athlete in the world. In professional boxing there has never been such a case: the annual income of the athlete is estimated at 285 million dollars according to the Forbes newsletter "Business and Society".

Floyd Mayweather

Floyd Mayweather

Floyd is an undefeated boxer, he has fought 50 fights and has 50 victories to his credit. The lack of defeats makes him the most visible figure in boxing, attracting sponsors. He cooperates with expensive brands: Hublot, Tequila Avion. Conor McGregor of Ireland has earned 85 million from boxing with the undefeated Floyd.

High-income athletes in Russia

Отечественные спортсмены умеют зарабатывать на имени и после завершения карьеры. Пример — карьера Евгения Плющенко и Татьяны Навки. Представляем пятерку самых высокооплачиваемых атлетов российского спорта на 2023 год.

Surname and first name Type of sport Age Place of birth Annual revenue, million dollars
1 Alexander Ovechkin hockey 33 Moscow 21,5
2 Timofey Mozgov basketball 32 Leningrad 20
3 Ilya Kovalchuk hockey 35 Kalinin 18,75
4 Eugene Malkin hockey 32 Magnitogorsk 12,3
5 Pavel Datsyuk hockey 40 Sverdlovsk 9

When it comes to the world's highest-paid athletes in history, the top three would be basketball player Michael Jordan, golfers Tiger Woods and Arnold Palmer, who managed to get more than 1 billion.


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