The Highest-Paid Athletes in the World Today
Professional athletes lead a lifestyle that most people are envious of. Like musicians or actors, these athletes command millions of dollars for their work and the average person can only look on and feel somewhat jealous. It seems like only yesterday that professional teams were often sold for just a few million and now these same teams are worth hundreds of millions or even billions. As the market for professional sports has grown, so have these teams and the salaries of the players. Here are some of the highest paid athletes in major league sports today.
NFL quarterbacks normally bring in some of the biggest contracts in the sport. Wentz is the quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles and there was a lot of excited news last year when they finally settled his new contract. After some back and forth, Wentz and the team agreed on a four-year contract extension worth $128 million, equalling $32 million a year. The real surprising factor is that $107 million of that is guaranteed, meaning that if he is sidelined for any amount of time because of injuries, this amount is still paid out. The guaranteed figure is the largest in NFL history.
While Brady may be the best quarterback in NFL history, he is still 43 years old and on the verge of retirement. That makes it all the more impressive that he was able to secure a two-year $50 million deal with over $12 million a year in endorsements. This makes a total of $37 million a year. Brady’s skills as an elite quarterback are what earns this impressive figure and makes his new team the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a much scarier squad in 2020. For their upcoming October 4th matchup versus the Los Angeles Chargers, they have NFL betting odds of -200. Last season the Buccaneers were lucky if they were the favorite to win any individual game.
While basketball has fans worldwide, the largest base is centered in the US where it competes against other major sports like football and baseball. That makes it all the more impressive that players like Curry can secure massive contracts. In 2017, Curry made history as the first player to ever sign a $200 million contract. Salary wise, he is the highest paid athlete in the NBA, but when endorsements are factored in, LeBron James has him beat. Curry reportedly brings in $44 million from his endorsement portfolio that includes Callaway Golf. As Curry has been a longtime fan of golf, this was the perfect deal for him and he has said he wants to “inspire the younger generation to enjoy this great game.”
A few years ago it would have been unthinkable to ever imagine a world where LeBron wasn’t the NBA’s highest earner but alas, all legends get old eventually. Although Curry may have surpassed him in annual salary, LeBron is still miles ahead when endorsements are factored in. Not since Michael Jordan has any individual player has as much branding and marketability as LeBron has now and this will presumably continue long after his basketball career ends.
The four-time MVP has numerous endorsement deals worked out with Coca-Cola and the headphones manufacturer Beats, as well as a lifetime deal with the sports apparel company, Nike. In an interview with GQ, LeBron’s business partner Maverick Carter hinted that his Nike deal is worth over $1 billion over the length of the contract. While his annual salary from the Los Angeles Lakers only brings him $28 million, his total annual income is rumored to be over $88 million.
Proving that the baseball market is alive and well despite dwindling viewership, pitcher Gerrit Cole has recently signed with the Yankees for a staggering $324 million across 9 years. After an impressive 2019 season with the Astros, the Yankees decided they needed Cole for their team and locked him down. His contract comes out to $36 million a year.
Center fielder Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels has recently broken records as he became the first player in MLB history to secure a contract worth over $400 million. His annual take home will be a staggering $37.7 million per year over the next 12 years for a total value of $426.5 million. These figures are incredible but you wouldn’t expect anything less for the sport’s best center fielder with 3 MVP titles to his name.
Sure baseball players may pull in massive contracts, but soccer players oftentimes put these athletes to shame. Messi, for instance, has been the recipient of these astounding contracts for years. He and fellow soccer player Ronaldo have been back and forth for years in competition to see who can bring in the most impressive figure. Recently it seems Ronaldo may have finally taken a small lead, but Messi is certainly still doing quite well for himself. His team, Barcelona, currently pays him over $80 million a year. After that he receives around $24 million a year from his endorsements. This includes a lifetime deal with Adidas.
As previously mentioned, Ronaldo has been neck and neck with Messi for years when it comes to salary. However, It seems he has finally surpassed Messi in annual take home when endorsements are factored in. Although Ronaldo brings in “just” $60 million a year from his contract with his team Juventus, he is rumored to have a total of $45 million from his endorsements, beating Messi’s $104 million annual income by 1 million dollars. This also makes Ronaldo the highest paid athlete in the sport of soccer. Of course, with so much extra income he can certainly afford some lavish purchases. He owns multiple penthouses around the world including an $11 million dollar mansion in his native Portugal.
If we are discussing the highest paid athletes in the world, no list would be complete without Federer. According to Forbes, Federer is the highest paid athlete of 2020 with an immense income of $106.3 million. Surprisingly, he only makes $6 million a year from tennis, and the rest of his fortune comes from some very lucrative endorsement deals. Japanese apparel brand Uniqlo signed Federer to a deal in 2018 that is worth $300 million across ten years, accounting for $30 million a year alone. Rolex is also a longtime partner with Federer and his current deal is worth $15 million. Other brands in his endorsement portfolio include Gillette, Barilla, and Nike.