The Top 10 Richest Sports Stars In the World In 2022

Who are the top earning and highest-paid sports stars in the world in 2022? We take a look at the numbers to find out

Richest Sports Stars in the world
Who are the richest sports stars in the world based on salary and sponsorship deals? (Photos: China Images, Maciej Rogowski and Marty Jean-Louis / depositphotos.com and Marianne Bevis)

At the top level, the world of professional sport can be extremely lucrative. In this article, we’re going to look at the top 10 richest (highest-paid) sports stars in the world in 2022.

From Lionel Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo, we’re going to take a look at the top-earning athletes in the world to see where they rank in terms of earnings per year from both salaries and sponsorships and endorsements.

The following list has been compiled using the figures from Forbes’ highest-paid athletes piece, which was published in May 2022 and features estimated sponsorship earnings as well as figures for income from salaries.

So, with the introductions out of the way, let’s start taking a look at the top 10 highest-paid sports stars in the world in 2022.

10) Giannis Antetokounmpo (Basketball) $80.9m

• Salary/Earnings: $39.9m (£32.8m)
• Sponsorships and Endorsements: $41m (£33.7m)
• Total: $80.9m (£66.5m)

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis Antetokounmpo (Photo: China Images / Imagine China Limited / depositphotos.com)

Coming in at number 10 of the world’s highest-paid athletes is basketball player Giannis Antetokounmpo. The towering Greek-Nigerian basketball player was born in Athens, Greece, before moving to America in 2013 when he joined his current side the Milwaukee Bucks.

According to Forbes, Antetokounmpo earns around $39.9m (£32.8m) from his current contract – which was signed in December 2020 – with the NBA team. The 6ft 11in basketball player became an NBA champion with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2021. He was also named as the NBA Finals MVP in 2021.

At the time of writing, he has endorsement deals with the likes of NFT platform NFTSTAR, as well as WhatsApp and Google Pixel.

9) Tom Brady (American Football) $83.9m

• Salary/Earnings: $31.9m (£26.2m)
• Sponsorships and Endorsements: $52m (£42.7m)
• Total: $83.9m (£69m)

Tom Brady

Tom Brady (Photo: China Images / Imagine China Limited / depositphotos.com)

One of the most decorated and accomplished players in NFL history, Tom Brady is recognised as one of american football’s all-time greats. During his sparkling career, he has won a record seven Super Bowl titles and a record five Super Bowl MVPs.

According to Forbes, Brady is pocketing a salary in the region of $31.9m (£26.2m) with his current team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Brady has retired from the NFL more than once, but most recently made his comeback by returning to the Buccaneers for the 2022 season.

When he does finally decide to end his playing career, Brady is reported to be in line to earn a whopping $375m over 10 years from a deal with Fox Sports for a commentator role.

8) Canelo Alvarez (Boxing) $90m

• Salary/Earnings: $85m (£69.8m)
• Sponsorships and Endorsements: $4m (£3.2m)
• Total: $90m (£74m)

Canelo Alvarez

Canelo Alvarez (Photo: @canelo / Instagram(

Canelo Alvarez is boxing’s current star, having won multiple world championships in four weight classes from light middleweight to light heavyweight.

According to Forbes, the Mexican earned $40m or more from his two pay-per-view victories in 2021. Alvarez, who has won 39 of his 61 fights by KO, also has endorsement deals with the likes of Hennessy.

In total, Alvarez is estimated to have earned $90m (£74m) from both earnings and endorsements.

7) Roger Federer (Tennis) $90.7m

• Salary/Earnings: $0.7m (£0.58m)
• Sponsorships and Endorsements: $73.9m (£60.7m)
• Total: $90.7m (£74.5m)

Roger Federer

Roger Federer (Photo: Marianne Bevis)

Despite being sidelined for a large portion of both 2021 and 2022, Roger Federer makes it onto the list thanks to his impressive suite of sponsorships and endorsements.

The former world number one and 20-time grand slam champion has sponsorship deals with the likes of Uniqlo and Rolex which have kept his earnings up despite his time away from the court.

Indeed, Federer only earned around $700,000 in prize money from tennis over the last year or so, raking in a staggering $73.9m (£60.7m) from his sponsorships and endorsements. He is also an investor in Swiss shoe brand On.

6) Kevin Durant (Basketball) $92.1m

• Salary/Earnings: $39.9m (£34.6m)
• Sponsorships and Endorsements: $41m (£33.7m)
• Total: $92.1m (£75.7m)

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant (Photo: China Images / Imagine China Limited / depositphotos.com)

Kevin Durant is estimated to bring in roughly $28m per year from a sponsorship deal with Nike. The Brooklyn Nets star also boasts endorsement deals with the likes of Foot Locker, Coinbase, NBA Top Shot and Weedmaps.

According to Forbes, his total income from basketball was in the region of $39.9m (£34.6m) per year at the time of writing.

On the court, Durant is one of the most decorated basketball players of recent times, having been twice been both NBA champion and NBA Finals MVP, as well as being named as the NBA MVP in 2014.

5) Stephen Curry (Basketball) $92.8m

• Salary/Earnings: $45.8m (£37.6m)
• Sponsorships and Endorsements: $47m (£38.6m)
• Total: $92.8m (£76.2m)

Steph Curry (Photo: headlinephotos / Marty Jean-Louis / depositphotos.com)

Steph Curry (Photo: headlinephotos / Marty Jean-Louis / depositphotos.com)

Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry is projected to earn around $48m from playing basketball from next season, according to Forbes, thanks to his new and improved contract.

Curry is widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, having been NBA champion four times and having twice been named as the NBA’s Most Valuable Player.

He has sponsorship deals with the likes of Under Armour and Steiner Sports Memorabilia. He also has a production company named Unanimous Media.

4) Neymar (Football) $95m

• Salary/Earnings: $70m (£57.5m)
• Sponsorships and Endorsements: $25m (£20.5m)
• Total: $95m (£78m)

Neymar

Neymar (Photo: China Images / Imagine China Limited / depositphotos.com)

Neymar is considered to be one of world football’s top attacking talents. After having left FC Barcelona to sign for Paris Saint-Germain in the summer of 2017, Neymar has become one of the highest-paid sports stars in the world.

According to Forbes, the Brazil international pockets in the region of $70m (£57.5m) per year from his contract with Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain.

The winger has also signed sponsorship deals with the likes of Puma, Volkswagen, Ambev, Claro, Unilever and Red Bull. It is estimated that his sponsorship agreements net him around $25m (£20.5m) per year.

Neymar won two La Liga titles and the Champions League with FC Barcelona. At PSG, he has so far won four Ligue 1 titles.

3) Cristiano Ronaldo (Football) $115m

• Salary/Earnings: $60m (£49.3m)
• Sponsorships and Endorsements: $55m (£45.2m)
• Total: $115m (£94.5m)

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo (Photo: Maciej Rogowski / depositphotos.com)

Cristiano Ronaldo is widely considered to be one of the greatest footballers to have ever played the sport. After beginning his career at Sporting Lisbon, he made a name for himself at Manchester United before moving to Real Madrid in the summer of 2009.

Now a household name, Ronaldo is reported to earn around $60m (£49.3m) per year from his contract with Manchester United.

Away from the pitch, Ronaldo has an impressive array of sponsorship deals which are estimated to earn him around $55m (£45.2m) per year.

The Portugal international has deals with the likes of Nike, Herbalife, Therabody, livescore.com, Altice and Clear Shampoo.

2) LeBron James (Basketball) $121.2m

• Salary/Earnings: $41.2m (£33.8m)
• Sponsorships and Endorsements: $80m (£65.7m)
• Total: $121.2m (£99.6m)

LeBron James

LeBron James (Photo: China Images / Imagine China Limited / depositphotos.com)

LeBron James is widely considered to be one of the greatest basketball players of all time, with the Ohio-born star having been NBA champion four times, as well as being named as the NBA Finals MVP four times.

James – who won Olympic gold with the USA at Beijing 2008 and London 2012 – was also named as the NBA Most Valuable Player four times, in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013.

According to Forbes, James earns around $41.2m (£33.8m) per year from his contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. On top of that, it is estimated that he pockets round $80m (£65.7m) per year from his sponsorship deals.

He has done business with the likes of Crypto.com, Beats by Dre, Coca-Cola and Nike during his decorated career. Forbes estimate that James’ net worth is in the region of $850m (£699m).

1) Lionel Messi (Football) $130m

• Salary/Earnings: $75m (£61.6m)
• Sponsorships and Endorsements: $55m (£45.2m)
• Total: $130m (£106.9m)

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi (Photo: Adidas / Handout)

Top of the list for the richest sports stars in the world in 2022 is Argentine footballer Lionel Messi. Currently playing for French side Paris Saint-Germain, Messi is reported to take home around $75m (£61.6m) per year from his deal with the Ligue 1 outfit.

Along with Ronaldo, Messi is generally considered to be one of the greatest footballers to have ever played the sport. A seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, Messi has tasted major success on the pitch during his career, winning 10 La Liga titles and four Champions League crowns with FC Barcelona before his switch to PSG.

Away from the sport, Messi is also estimated to pocket in the region of $55m (£45.2m) from various sponsorship and endorsement deals, which include agreements with the likes of Adidas, Budweiser and PepsiCo.

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