Search

The 6 Highest Earning Sportsmen of All Time

Who are the highest earning sportsmen of all time?


We checked out the earnings of a whole range of sportsmen, to see who had earned the most money throughout their careers.


It is no surprise that most high-worth sportsmen and women have earned more money from sponsorship deals and appearances than from actually playing their sport.


All of the sportsmen on this list have earned over $1 billion throughout their careers. There are no sportswomen on this list, which just shows how far we have to go to reach earning equality between men and women. Hopefully sportswomen will appear on this list in the not too distant future.


It is fair to say that all of the sportsmen on this list have become global icons, as well as being hugely successful in their chosen sport.


So, here is the list of the 6 highest earning sportsmen of all time:


HIghest earning sportsmen of all time - table


#1: Tiger Woods


Coming first on the list is 46-year-old golfer Tiger Woods, who has earned a total of $1.72 billion in his career to date. During a 10 year period, he topped Forbes’ list of the world’s highest-earning athletes. Over his 27-year career, less than 10% of Woods’ earnings have come from golf winnings, with over 90% coming from off-course sponsorship deals and endorsements.


How many times has Tiger Woods been awarded PGA Player of the Year?


Tiger Woods has been awarded PGA Player of the Year 11 times, This is a world record.


What is Tiger Woods’ real name?


Tiger Woods’ real name is Elrick. It was chosen to include letters from his parents’ names. His father is called Earl, and so the ‘E’ of Elrick was chosen to match the first letter of his father’s name. His mother is called Kultilda, and so the last ‘K’ of Elrick was chosen to match the first letter of his mother’s name. His middle name is Tont.


Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods ©Jeremy Reper - USA TODAY Sports

#2: Cristiano Ronaldo


Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo has earned a total of $1.24 billion in his career to date. The Manchester United forward has made over 1,100 professional football appearances, and has scored over 800 goals for his clubs and country over his career.


Is Cristiano Ronaldo the most popular sportsman on social media?


Cristiano Ronaldo has a combined following of over 500 million followers across the social media platforms of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. This makes him the most popular sportsman on social media. He has also released two mobile apps.


Does Cristiano Ronaldo have his own fashion boutique?


Cristiano Ronaldo has his own fashion boutique called CR7. This name is a combination of his initials and his shirt number. The first CR7 boutique opened in Madeira in 2006 and a second opened in Lisbon in 2008.



#3: LeBron James


The 37-year-old basketball legend LeBron James has earned a total of $1.16 billion over his career so far. He is the only player in NBA history to accumulate over 10,000 career points, assists and rebounds.


Has LeBron James appeared on the cover of Vogue?


Yes, James appeared on the cover of Vogue in March 2008, alongside Gisele Bündchen. He was the first black man and third man to ever appear on the cover, after Richard Gere and George Clooney.


What companies does LeBron James endorse?


James has endorsment contracts with numerous companies. He signed with Nike for around $90 million on leaving high school. Since then he has signed endorsements with State Farm, McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Brands, Coco-Cola, Beats by Dre and Audenars Piguet, among others.



#4: Lionel Messi


The Paris Saint-Germain footballer has earned a total of $1.15 billion to date. He has deals with Hard Rock International, Socios, Budweiser, Adidas and PepsiCo, among others.


When did Lionel Messi leave Barcelona?


Lionel Messi left Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain in 2021. Up until that point, he had spent his whole career with Barcelona. During that time, Barcelona won 35 trophies, including four UEFA Champions Leagues, seven Copa de Rey and ten La Liga titles.


How tall is Lionel Messi?


Lionel Messi is shorter than average for a footballer, standing at 1.70m, which is 5 feet 7 inches. Many pundits believe this lower centre of gravity gives him greater agility than taller players. He is also known for short bursts of acceleration on the pitch, leading to the Spanish media giving him the nickname La Pulga Atómica, which means ‘The Atomic Flea’.


Highest earning sportsmen of all time - graph

#5: Roger Federer


41-year-old Swiss tennis player Roger Feder has earned a total of $1.09 billion in his career so far. He has earned over $90 million off the tennis court in the last year.


Has Roger Federer won the most Gram Slam tournament titles?


No, Roger Federer has won 20 Gram Slam tournament titles, making him third in that list. Rafael Nadal has won the most, with 22 under his belt, while Novak Djokovic has won 21 Gram Slam tournement titles.


What nicknames does Roger Federer have?


Roger Federer has been nicknamed the ‘Swiss Maestro’ and ‘King Roger’. He has also been given the nickname the ‘Federer Express’, and the city of Basel named a tram the ‘Federer-Express’ after him in October 2021. This nickname is sometimes shortened to ‘Fed Express’ or ‘FedEx’.



#6: Floyd Mayweather


Boxing legend Floyd Mayweather has earned $1.08 billion in his career to date. He earned a record $275 million for his fight with Conor McGregor in 2018, and earns a sizeable amount through his own promotion company, Mayweather Promotions.


Which of Floyd Mayweather’s family members were boxers?


Mayweather’s father, Floyd Mayweather Sr., was a welterweight contender who fought Sugar Ray Leonard. Mayweather’s uncle, Jeff Mayweather, competed from 1988 to 1997. He held the IBO super featherweight title from 1994 to 1995. Mayweather’s other uncle, Roger Mayweather, competed from 1981 to 1999, and held the WBA super featherweight title from 1983 to 1984 and the WBC light welterweight title from 1987 to 1989. Roger Mayweather was Floyd Mayweather’s trainer for a time.


What companies has Floyd Mayweather endorsed?


Floyd Mayweather has signed a variety of endorsement deals throughout his career, with companies including FanDuel, Reebok Tequila Avión, fuboTV, Fenmio, TAAT, Burger King and Hublot. For his fight against Pacquiao in 2015, Hublot, Burger King and FanDuel famously paid $1 million each to appear on his boxing shorts.