Forbes reveal the 10 highest-earning athletes of the decade (2010-2020)

Floyd Mayweather Jr. v Manny Pacquiao - Weigh-In

Christmas shopping isn't a problem when it comes to the world's biggest athletes.

While some of us will be crawling on all fours to the January payday, some of the most talented sportspeople in the world are cashing in their latest pay cheque.

It's well documented that the best in the business are paid some eye-watering wages and footballers collecting over £500,000 on a weekly basis is just the tip of the iceberg.

Don't get it twisted, we're not firing shots at these masters of their trade, but it's always interesting to read the estimates for how much people like Cristiano Ronaldo are banking each year.

World-revered magazine Forbes are the most reliable source for such information and they've gone one step further with not just the end of the year, but the end of the decade coming up.

Highest-paid athletes of the decade

As a result, they've run the numbers to see which athletes have been paid the most between January 1, 2010, and the present day before we cross over into the 2020s.

Alarmingly, Serena Williams was the only female athlete to even make the cut for the top 40.

But without further ado, check out the ten athletes with the most cash to flaunt from the 2010s:

10. Lewis Hamilton: $400 million

You don't win six world titles (five of which came in this decade) in the most lucrative motor racing franchise in the world and not have millions to show for it.

Hamilton is on course to become the greatest Formula 1 driver in history and his connections to the world of fashion make him incredibly marketable. 

F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi

9. Kevin Durant: $425 million

The Brooklyn Nets superstar had plenty to shout about during the 2010s after his salary and endorsements jumped up by an eye-watering 400%.

Brooklyn Nets Media Day

8. Manny Pacquiao: $435 million

Astonishingly, Pacquiao has fought in 25 pay-per-view fights over the course of his career to the tune of 20 million buys and an estimated $1.3 billion in revenue.

His most lucrative fight came in 2015 against a boxer who may or may not appear further down the list...


7. Phil Mickelson: $480 million

Mickelson might have 'only' won the 2010 Masters and 2013 The Open this decade, but the left-hander remains one of the highest earners in golf.

And most notably, he bagged the biggest pay-packet of his career in 2018 by winning a $9 million purse against his long-time rival Tiger Woods.


6. Tiger Woods: $615 million

Speaking of Woods... the legendary golfer won even fewer majors than Mickelsen since the turn of 2010, but his worldwide appeal has kept his bank account looking very healthy.

Woods' vast array of endorsements meant that he only needed to average 10 PGA Tour events each year to pocket comfortably more than half a billion.

The Masters - Final Round

5. Roger Federer: $640 million

Federer is defying his age of 38 to compete with athletes many years his junior by winning three Australian Open titles and two Wimbledon crowns.

Plus, you can expect the Swiss to stick around with the highest earners after inking a 10-year, $300 million deal with Uniqlo in 2018.

Switzerland's Roger Federer blows kisses

4. LeBron James: $680 million

James might 'only' be taking home $270 million from his playing salary, but has earned more than double that through endorsements over 16 years in the NBA to narrowly miss out on the podium.

Los Angeles Lakers v Indiana Pacers

3. Lionel Messi: $750 million

For a kick off, Messi's 2019 salary from Barcelona is the highest of any athlete competing in a team sport.

Marry that to endorsements with the likes of Adidas, Huawei, Lay’s and many more over the course of 10 years and you have a mind-blowing kitty. 


2. Cristiano Ronaldo: $800 million

Collecting an estimated salary €31 million from Juventus is a pretty good place to start, but it's social media that sees Ronaldo move above Messi.

Ronaldo earns more than anybody else on the planet through endorsement payments for the use of his Twitter and Instagram pages, which boast over 275 million followers combined.


1. Floyd Mayweather: $915 million

Who else could it be other than the man who calls himself 'Money'? Mayweather earned $500 million alone from his two mega-fights with Pacquiao and Conor McGregor in 2015 and 2017.

To finish off the currency cocktail, chuck in another cool $9 million for a mere exhibition match with Tenshin Nasukawa and eight more pay-per-view bouts for good measure.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. v Conor McGregor

Mayweather tops the lot

It seems apt that the athlete who literally swims in dollar bills on Instagram is the biggest earner in the business.

Say what you like about Mayweather, but he knows how to earn a pretty penny and he could easily top the rankings for the 2020s if he stays true to his comeback promise.

However, it goes without saying that some athletes lower down on the list handle the wealth that comes with their employment with far more class and responsibility.

Come on, Floyd, the nickname isn't fooling anybody.