Live graphic shows the world’s highest paid athletes between 1990 and 2019

  • Rob Swan

A brilliant live graphic showing the world’s highest paid athletes over the past three decades has gone viral on social media.

With data provided by Forbes, the graphic (which has 37,000 retweets and 114,000 ‘likes’ at the time of writing), shows who the world’s highest paid athletes were in the years between 1990-2019. It was designed by David McSweeney from Noob Norm.

It’s a fascinating watch and well worth two minutes of any sports fan’s time.

We begin in 1990-1991 and boxing dominates, with Mike Tyson, Buster Douglas and Evander Holyfield all accumulating earnings of over $20 million.

Holyfield’s earnings exceed $50 million by 1992, while basketball legend Michael Jordan’s earnings also begin to climb around this time.

By 1993, Jordan is the highest-paid athlete on the planet and remains in pole position up until 1996, when Tyson re-takes the lead.

Jordan then goes top again up until 1999, when he’s surpassed by Formula 1 icon Michael Schumacher.

This is also the same time that Tiger Woods begins to become a huge global star.

Schumacher and Woods dominate the top two spots right up until 2007 – an astonishing period of dominance – before the former, who was involved in a tragic skiing accident in 2013, falls away.

Woods, however, remains on top all the way up to 2012, when he’s finally surpassed by Floyd Mayweather.

After Mayweather fought Manny Pacquiao and Conor McGregor in 2015 and 2017, respectively, his earnings shot through the roof.

On both occasions the boxing star earned close to $300 million.

Mayweather is aware of the graphic and couldn’t resist dropping a tweet on Wednesday morning…

Several footballers also pop up inside the top 10.

David Beckham and Ronaldinho both make appearances during the mid-2000s, while Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have been among the highest-paid athletes in recent years. Neymar is also right up there at the moment.

Watch the graphic here…

Now let’s check out some of the best reaction…

As one person pointed out, not a single female athlete makes the top 10 in any year, which is rather surprising – and disappointing.

Perhaps that will change over the next couple of decades as the campaign for equal pay continues to gather momentum.

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