Who Are The Highest Paid Athletes In 2023?

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Athletes make more money through endorsements than they do from sports. Also, rich Arabic nations are pumping more money into sports. Cristiano Ronaldo joining Saudi Arabia Professional League club Al Nassr is a good example of rich countries luring great footballers to their sides.

What Is The Annual Income Of Athletes?

The increasing income of athletes has been a topic of debate in media circles as everyone is guessing how much an athlete could make in a year. While the annual profit of athletes varies from one sport to another, the top ten athletes collectively earned over $1.11 billion last year. It was a 12% jump from $990 million earned the previous year. Also, this income is set to increase in the coming years.

How Do Athletes Earn Money?

Sportspersons are paid for playing and the fee of an athlete depends on their performance. High-performing athletes like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are offered top-dollar prices. Some clubs pay a high price. Also, they earn money through brand endorsements. The good thing about brand endorsement is that it provides athletes total freedom to determine their fees.

Also, there can’t be one list of top-earning athletes because their fees keep varying according to their performance. But we can make a list of highest paid athletes in the current fiscal year. Here I’ve done a serious attempt to prepare a comprehensive list of highest paid athletes.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo – $136 Million

Country: Portugal

Sport: Football

Portugal played in the quarter-final of the World Cup 2022 in Qatar under the captainship of Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo is considered the greatest footballer of all time but he could score only one goal during the World Cup 2022. But it didn’t impact his reputation and acceptability. He recently joined the Saudi Arabia side Al Nassr and increased his profit. Also, he signed many sponsorship deals with sportswear and consumer products.

2. Lionel Messi – $130 Million

Country: Argentina

Sport: Football

Lionel Messi led Argentina to the World Cup 2022 and won the tournament by scoring 7 goals for his team. Also, he was named the Best Player by FIFA for his outstanding performance throughout the tournament. He is paid a high match fee but he earns more from brand endorsements. He has been associated with Adidas since 2006. Also, he promotes luxury brands like Dolce & Gabbana and Audemars Piguet.

3. Kylian Mbappé – $120 Million

Country: France

Sport: Football

Kylian Mbappé led the French football team to the FIFA World Cup 2022 and became runners-up in the biggest tournament. Though France missed the title their captain increased his earnings through brand endorsements. A forward player, Kylian Mbappé is considered one of the top soccer players of his time. He has a brand endorsement deal with Nike.

4. LeBron James – $119.5 Million

Country: US

Sport: Basketball

LeBron James stands 6 ft 9in tall on the court and he is taller in earning profit from all his counterparts. Just like he throws the ball in the net, he bags endorsements from big brands including Nike, Coca-Cola, and McDonald’s. He also has a small stake in the English Premier League football club Liverpool. He is so popular that every brand wants to hire him for branding.

5. Canelo Álvarez – $110 Million

Country: Mexico

Sport: Boxing

Canelo Álvarez is earning money with every punch he makes. Also, his earnings are increasing with every step he takes to the ring. If you go through his career record, you will agree that this boxer deserves to be rich. He has won multiple championships in all four weight classes including lightweight to heavyweight.

6. Dustin Johnson – $107 Million

Country: US

Sport: Golf

A professional golfer, Dustin Johnson recently won two major championships the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club and the 2020 Masters Tournament, and became one of the most desired athletes. Also, winning tournaments gives him more money. In 2017, he achieved the highest rank in golf and maintained the title of world number one for 64 consecutive weeks.   

7. Phil Mickelson – $106 Million

Country: US

Sport: Golf

Phil Mickelson is a renowned golfer with 45 titles to his name. He is second in earnings on the PGA Tour’s list but this list considers only tournament prize money. The real income of Phil Mickelson comes from brand endorsements. He is the second highest-paid athlete in the US and seventh in the world. He is also an entrepreneur. His company sells food and beverages.

8. Stephen Curry – $100.4 Million

Country: US

Sport: Basketball

Widely regarded as the greatest shooter of all time, Stephen Curry has increased his earnings considerably through match fees and brand endorsements. His partnership with Under Armor is well known. Also, he has publicly accepted that he is the brand ambassador of the company. In 2017, he signed an exclusive autograph contract with Steiner Sports Memorabilia to sell hand-signed basketballs and jerseys.

9. Roger Federer – $98.1 Million

Country: Switzerland

Sport: Tennis

Ranked world No. 1 for 310 weeks, Roger Federer is a well-known name in the sports world. He has a large fan following and all his fans follow his lifestyle and the products he endorses. He endorses big brands including Mercedes-Benz, Gillette, Wilson, and Rolex. His earnings from tennis and brand endorsements have increased considerably.

10. Kevin Durant – $89.1 Million

Country: US

Sport: Basketball

One of the leading and most popular basketball players, Kevin Durant is both an entrepreneur and a philanthropist. He earns a good income through NBA matches and brand endorsements that include Nike, Sprint, Panini, General Electricals, and 2K Sports. Also, he is a YouTuber with a live vlog where he shares basketball tips and his experiences with his viewers.


Athletes are making huge money but only through brand endorsements. Brands hire athletes to expand their reach and reach out to the targeted audiences. Also, they are ready to give any amount to popular athletes, if they see potential in athletes. Also, the income of athletes keeps fluctuating with their performance.  

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