McGregor, Messi, Ronaldo, Federer, Hamilton, Woods, Kohli: The 100 highest-paid athletes


Sports business website Sportico has released its list of the top 100 highest-paid athletes for the last year – and it makes for very interesting reading.

Despite the impact of COVID-19 around the world, these stars raked in some eye-watering sums over the last 12 months. The combined revenue total for the top 100 sits at a staggering $4.2 billion (close to £3 billion!)

The rankings take an overall look at the income of each individual. Cash from endorsements, merchandise and other such revenue streams are added to the salary and prize money earned over the last 12 months to calculate the total for each entry.

Here is a look at the top 100 in full.


100. Kyle Lowry – $26m

98. Laremy Tunsil – $26.1m

98. Clayton Kershaw – $26.1m

96. Philippe Coutinho – $26.2m

96. DeMar DeRozan – $26.2m

95. Max Verstappen – $26.3m


94. Taylor Decker – $26.4m

92. Matthew Stafford – $26.5m

92. Rafael Nadal – $26.5m

88. Justin Simmons – $26.6m

88. Karl-Anthony Towns – $26.6m

88. Kei Nishikori – $26.6m

88. Tre’Davious White – $26.6m

87. Stephen Strasburg – $26.7m

86. Kenny Clark – $26.9m

85. Kevin Love – $27m

84. Khris Middleton – $27.1m

83. Angel Di María – $27.2m


82. CJ McCollum – $27.5m

81. Raheem Sterling – $27.7m

100-81 Summary

The opening portion of the list features some huge names. Tennis icon Rafa Nadal did not spend much time on the court in 2020, but still cashed in to the tune of $26.5 million – thanks to lucrative sponsorship deals with the likes of Nike and Kia. 

Elsewhere, 23-year-old Formula One ace Max Verstappen makes the cut, having earned £26.3 million in the period. It is likely that he will be a fixture on this list for many years to come, too. Footballers Philippe Coutinho, Angel Di María and Raheem Sterling all had strong financial years. Their huge salaries – plus other rights fees – making for some bumper paydays.


80. Donovan Smith – $27.8m

78. Russell Wilson – $28m

78. Sebastian Vettel – $28m


77. Kristaps Porziņģis – $28.1m

76. Zion Williamson – $28.2m

74. David de Gea – $28.4m

74. Mike Trout – $28.4m

73. Kevin De Bruyne – $28.5m

71. Cameron Heyward – $28.6m

71. DeForest Buckner – $28.6m

70. Mike Conley – $28.7m

69. D’Angelo Russell – $28.9m

66. Joe Burrow – $29m

66. Khalil Mack – $29m

66. Tobias Harris – $29m

65. Jordan Spieth – $29.6m


64. Joel Embiid – $29.7m

62. Blake Griffin – $30m

60. Devin Booker – $30.6m

60. Kemba Walker – $30.6m

59. Virat Kohli – $31.5m

58. Robert Lewandowski – $31.6m

57. Joe Thuney – $31.9m

56. Bud Dupree – $32m

55. Ben Simmons – $32.6m

54. Rory McIlroy – $32.8m

53. Eden Hazard – $33m

52. Novak Djokovic – $33.4m


51. Kawhi Leonard – $33.6m

50. Paul Pogba – $34.4m

48. J.J. Watt – $34.5m

48. John Wall – $34.5m

47. Jimmy Butler – $34.8m

46. Matt Judon – $35m

45. Deshaun Watson – $35.4m

44. Serena Williams – $35.5m

43. Mohamed Salah – $36.1m

41. Chris Jones – $36.2m

41. Shaquil Barrett – $36.2m

80-41 Summary

More financial success stories from the world of football can be seen further down the list. Robert Lewandowski, Eden Hazard, Paul Pogba and Mo Salah all broke the $30 million barrier last year.

Tennis superstar Serena Williams is the first of only two women on this countdown. The legendary American brought in $35.5 million, mostly in sponsorship deals. Williams is ranked eight places higher than Novak Djokovic, who earned $33.4 million.

It was also a monster year for Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli, who saw his bank balance swell by a hefty $31.5 million. It wasn’t a bad year for golfer Rory McIlroy either, as he pocketed an estimated $32.8 million.



39. Anthony Davis – $36.6m

39. Francisco Lindor – $36.6m

38. Paul George – $37m

37. Marlon Humphrey – $37.3m

36. Leonard Williams – $38.8m

35. Andres Iniesta – $39m

34. DeAndre Hopkins – $39.5m

33. Kylian Mbappe – $40.1m

32. Chris Paul – $40.2m

31. Damian Lillard – $40.4m

30. Antoine Griezmann – $40.6m

29. Dustin Johnson – $40.8m


28. Gareth Bale – $41.9m

27. Jalen Ramsey – $42.6m

26. Myles Garrett – $42.8m

25. Trent Williams – $42.9m

24. Kyrie Irving – $43.2m

23. Klay Thompson – $43.3m

22. Joey Bosa – $43.8m

21. Phil Mickelson – $46.1m

40-21 Summary

Spanish midfield maestro Andres Iniesta recently announced his retirement from football. However, he certainly had a lucrative final year with Japanese side Vissel Kobe, earning a sizeable $39 million. Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Gareth Bale all outdid Iniesta, though, each bringing in over $40 million last year.

Golfing duo Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson both smashed past that figure, as well. Recent PGA Championship winner Mickelson reportedly received $42 million in sponsorship and endorsement revenue last year.



20. Patrick Mahomes – $46.5m

19. Ronnie Stanley – $47.2m

18. David Bakhtiari – $48.2m

17. Giannis Antetokounmpo – $49.2m

16. James Harden – $51.1m

15. Naomi Osaka – $55.2m

14. Russell Westbrook – $61.1m

13. Tiger Woods – $62.2m

12. Canelo Álvarez – $63m

11. Lewis Hamilton – $64m

20-11 Summary

Having led the Kansas City Chiefs to consecutive Super Bowl appearances, 25-year-old quarterback Patrick Mahomes has been rewarded very well financially. Last year, Mahomes brought in a total of $46.5 million, much of that in salary. However, he is still far from the highest-placed gridiron star in the top 100.

Japanese tennis ace Naomi Osaka is the top female earner featured on the list. The 23-year-old saw an incredible $50 million in endorsement income last year, leaving her with total earnings of $55.2 million. Endorsements also formed a massive portion of Tiger Woods’ $62.2 million haul for the year.


Formula One’s Lewis Hamilton and boxing superstar Canelo Alvarez are famously well-paid. It is no surprise to see either man break the $60 million barrier.


10. Stephen Curry – $74.5m

9. Kevin Durant – $80.1m

8. Tom Brady – $80.4m

7. Roger Federer – $84m

6. Neymar – $100m

5. LeBron James – $101.8m

4. Dak Prescott – $108.4m

3. Cristiano Ronaldo – $120m

2. Lionel Messi – $126m

1. Conor McGregor – $208m

10-1 Summary

If your name makes it into the top 10 of this countdown, then it’s safe to say that you had a decent year! 

While salary is the name of the game for some of the American stars in the top 10, sponsorships and endorsements play a huge role for others.

Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback Dak Prescott has the highest individual salary of anyone on the list, at $97.4 million. Prescott’s salary is nearly $40 million higher than NFL great Tom Brady, but is still only good enough to see him into fourth place overall.


Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi all broke the $100 million mark, with each of the trio both commanding a salary north of $70 million.

Third-placed Ronaldo supplemented his $70 million salary with a substantial $50 million in endorsements. Messi beat Ronaldo in terms of salary ($91 million), but only brought in $35 million in endorsement income. Still, the Argentine’s combined $126 million was enough to see him bag second spot.

When it comes to endorsements and sponsorship deals, though, one man is head and shoulders above the rest. 

UFC mega-star Conor McGregor only fought once inside the Octagon during the qualifying period, but still managed to come away with total earnings of $208 million!

‘Notorious’ made just $28 million of that figure inside the cage, meaning he scooped more than $180 in outside deals. His involvement with Proper Twelve – his own brand of Irish whiskey – is a big contributor to his overall earnings, but McGregor also has a number of other business interests.


As you might expect, McGregor does not come cheap. An innovator in the business world, as well as the combat sports domain, life is good for McGregor.

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