The 30 highest-paid athletes in 2022

The 30 highest-paid athletes in 2022

Sportico have released their list of highest-paid athletes in 2022.

Here, we list the top 30 sportspeople based on their salary and prize money, as well as their merchandise, appearances and licensing in off-field endorsements.

We previously listed the highest-paid athlete per major sport, but now let’s take a dive into what athlete as an individual, no matter what sport they are involved in, makes the top 30.

LeBron James — $126.9M

The LA Lakers player tops the list after finishing fifth last year. The American made $36.9M in salary/winnings and $90M in endorsements.

2. Lionel Messi — $122M

The first of four football players to make the list, Messi remains in second place from the previous year. Arguably the GOAT in the football world, the Argentine earned $72M in salary and winnings and $50M in endorsements. 

3. Cristiano Ronaldo — $115M

Messi’s long-term rival to the GOAT throne, Cristiano Ronaldo also remains in the same position as the previous year. The Man United MVP made $60M in salary/winnings and $55M in endorsements. 

Cristiano Ronaldo
BRIGHTON, ENGLAND – MAY 07: Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United warms up prior to the Premier League match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Manchester United at American Express Community Stadium on May 07, 2022 in Brighton, England. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

4. Neymar — $103

Up two places on the previous year, the second-highest scoring Brazilian ever earned $65M in salary/earnings and $38M from endorsements. 

5. Canelo Alvarez — $89M

The Mexican boxer breaks into the top 10 having placed 12th on last year’s list. He earned $84M in salary and winnings and $5M in endorsements.

6. Stephen Curry — 86.2M

Considered one of the greatest point guards ever, The Golden States player earned $41.2M in salary and earnings and $45M from endorsements. Curry rises from 10th to 6th.

7. Kevin Durant — $85.9M

A former teammate of Curry, Kevin Durant comes in two places higher than before. The Brooklyn Nets star earned $37.9M in salary/earnings and $48M in endorsements.

8. Roger Federer — $85.7M

Roger Federer
LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 05: Roger Federer of Switzerland celebrates match point in his Men’s Singles Fourth Round match against Lorenzo Sonego of Italy during Day Seven of The Championships – Wimbledon 2021 at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 05, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

One of tennis‘ GOATs, if not the GOAT. The classy Swiss is recovering from knee surgery and subsequently made $724k in salary and winnings, but he remains in the top 10 due to his whopping $85M in endorsements, second only to LeBron James in endorsements.

9. James Harden — $76M

The final NBA player to make the top 10, Harden made $40M in salary/earnings and $36M in endorsements. He previously placed 16th on the list.

10. Tiger Woods—$73.5M

The golf icon is the only golfer to reach the top 10, having previously featured 13th on the list. Woods made $8.5M in salary and earnings and $65M from his endorsements.

11. Matthew Stafford — $73.3M 

The highest placed NFL player climbs a huge 81 places. The LA Rams veteran quarterback made $70.3M in salary and earnings and $3M in endorsements.

12. Giannis Antetokounmpo — $71.9M

The “Greek Freak” made $35.9M in salary and earnings and $36M in endorsements.

Giannis Antetokounmpo
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – MAY 11: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks shoots before Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on May 11, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images)

13. Russel Westbrook — $69.8M

Nine-time NBA All-Star Westbrook made $39.8M in salary/earnings and $30M in endorsements.

14. Tyson Fury — $69M

The “Gypsy King” made $63M in salary and earnings and just $3M in endorsements due to his commendable refusal to endorse gambling and alcohol labels as they are high contributors to mental health issues.

15. Josh Allen — $66.5M

Allen of the Buffalo Bills made $62.5M in salary and earnings and $4M in endorsements.

16. Tom Brady — $58.4M

The greatest quarterback of all time made $18.4M in salary and $40M in endorsements.

Tom Brady
TAMPA, FLORIDA – JANUARY 23: Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks to pass against the Los Angeles Rams during the first half in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Raymond James Stadium on January 23, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

17. Deshaun Watson — $56M

Completing the trio of consecutive NFL players to make the list is Watson. The Cleveland star made $55.5M in salary and $500K in endorsements — the lowest in the 30 for endorsements. He climbs 17 places on last year’s list.

18. Klay Thompson — $54.2M

The second Golden States Warrior makes the list, Thompson made $34.2M in salary and earnings and $20M in endorsements.

19. Lewis Hamilton — $54M

The highest F1 earner on the list. The Mercedes driver made $42M in salary and earnings and $12M. Hamilton drops eight places on his previous ranking.

20. Naomi Osaka — $53.2M

The first Asian player to be ranked number one in tennis singles and highest-paid woman in the sporting world, Osaka made $1.2M in salary and earnings and $52M in her endorsements.

Naomi Osaka
MADRID, SPAIN – MAY 01: Naomi Osaka of Japan plays a backhand against against Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain during their Round of 32 match on Day Four of the Mutua Madrid Open at La Caja Magica on May 01, 2022 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

21. Aaron Rodgers — $53M

Another quarterback to make the list, Rodgers made $42M in salary and earnings and $11M in his endorsements.

22. Conor McGregor — $52M

Last year’s number one, McGregor made $32M in salary and earnings and $20M in endorsements. 

23. Damian Lillard — $ 51.4M

The Portland Blazer star made $35.4M in salary and earnings and $16M in endorsements, climbing seven places in the process.

24. Mike Trout — $49.5M

The only MLB star to make the list. Trout made $35.5M in salary and earnings and $14M in endorsements. The LA Angels man climbs 50 places in the rankings.

25. Kylian Mbappe — $48.8M

The third of PSG’s incredible trio, Mbappe made $31.8M in salary and earnings and $17M in endorsements. With his contract due to end and plenty of suitors, expect Mbappe to significantly climb the rankings next year. 

Kylian Mbappe
MADRID, SPAIN – MARCH 09: Kylian Mbappe of Paris Saint-Germain controls the ball during the UEFA Champions League Round Of Sixteen Leg Two match between Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on March 09, 2022 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

26. Patrick Mahomes — $48.6M

The Kansas City Chief made $28.6M in salary and earnings and $20M in his endorsements.

27. Kirk Cousins — $48.5M

Cousins of the Minnesota Vikings enters the rankings, having not placed previously. He made $46M in salary and earnings and $2.5M in endorsements.

28. Kyle Irving — $44.9M

Joining his teammate Kevin Durant on the list, Irving made $31.9M in salary and earnings and $13M in his endorsements. He drops from 13 on last year’s list.

29. Paul George — $44M

The LA Clippers star made $35.5M in his earnings and salary and $8.5M in his endorsements.

30. Gareth Bale — $43M

Gareth Bale
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – APRIL 26: Gareth Bale of Real Madrid reacts during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final Leg One match between Manchester City and Real Madrid at Etihad Stadium on April 26, 2022 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Joint last on the list is the enigma  —  Gareth Bale. He made $37M in salary and earnings and $6M in his endorsements. A great deal of money for someone who does not feature much for his club, the Welsh star will likely have enjoyed spending his fortune on golf equipment.

30. Max Verstappen— $43m

The F1 champion climbs 65 places in the rankings. The Dutchman earned $39M in salary and earnings and $4M in his endorsements.

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