The 25 Highest Paid Athletes in the World (2022)
Athletes earn more money than ever before and the top 25 highest paid athletes of 2020 exhibits just who has been shown the money.
The top 25 highest paid athletes of 2020 may surprise you. There are no Major League Baseball players, just a few NFL stars, and the No. 1 earner isn’t an NBA top scorer or soccer legend.
So, who are the top 25 highest paid athletes of 2020? Let’s have a look.
25. Coming in at No. 25, golfer Phil Mickelson earned $40.8m in 2020.
Remarkably, nearly all of Lefty’s earnings came through endorsements rather than winnings. He earned $40m in endorsements in a difficult PGA season.
24. Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving may have won just one NBA title, but that hasn’t stopped the team from paying him $23.9m. Irving earned another $18m in endorsements in 2020, taking his total salary to $41.9m.
23. Tennis great Novak Djokovic is No. 23 on our list thanks to making a total of $44.6m. Djokovic is a 17-time Grand Slam winner. In 2020, he claimed the Australian Open title, helping him win $12.6m in tournament earnings.
22. Super Bowl XLIV MVP Drew Brees may be 41-years-old, but he is still one of the world’s top 25 highest paid athletes. Brees earned $29.8m from the NFL’s New Orleans Saints with an additional $15m coming from endorsements for a grand total of $44.8m.
21. At No. 21, it is Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, who traded in the New England Patriots for south Florida last offseason. Now, 43-years-old, Brady is a six-time Super Bowl champion, a four-time Super Bowl MVP, and three-time NFL MVP. In 2020, Brady earned $45m with a whopping $33m coming from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
20. Former WBC World Heavyweight champion, Deontay Wilder is 2020’s No. 20 highest paid athlete, making $46.5m. Unlike some of the other athletes on this list, Wilder makes nearly all of his money from winnings. Wilder made $46m in winnings alone. His fight against Tyson Fury in February 2020 earned him $25m alone. He also got a percentage of the pay-per-view receipts.
19. Fellow heavyweight boxer Anthony Joshua comes in at 19 thanks to his $47m in earnings for 2020. The former 2012 Olympic gold medal winner is currently 23-1 in the squared circle, and is considered the best boxer pound for pound in the world. Joshua made $36m from winnings this year. He is currently the unified WBA, IBF, WBO, and IBO heavyweight champion. His earnings are bound to go up in 2021 if his next fight versus Kubrat Pulev goes ahead.
18. Coming in at No. 18 is Milwaukee Bucks forward, the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo. In 2016, Antetokounmpo signed a lucrative $100m contract extension with the Bucks. When it expires in the summer of 2021, he is on target to earn even more on the free agent market. In 2020, Antetokounmpo made $47.6m. His back-to-back NBA MVP awards led to huge bonuses paid out by shoe sponsor, Nike.
17. The No. 17 highest paid athlete of 2020 is Houston Rockets guard James Harden. He just edged out the Greek Freak for the 17th slot on the list with a total earning of $47.8m. The former No. 3 overall pick won the NBA’s MVP award in 2018. He is also a three-time scoring champion, having last won it in 2020.
16. MMA superstar Conor McGregor last stepped into the octagon with the UFC in January 2020 against Donald Cerrone. It took the Irish welterweight a mere 40 seconds into the bout to dispatch Cerrone. In spite of that one, 40 second fight, McGregor is the world’s No. 16 highest paid athlete. He earned $32m in fight winnings and salary with a further $16m in endorsements. Altogether, the UFC’s golden goose made $48m.
15. Former NFL No. 1 pick, LA Rams quarterback Jared Goff, signed an insane $134m four-year extension in 2019. It came on the heels of Goff leading the Rams to the Super Bowl. Goff’s massive contract guarantees him $100m of that original figure. In 2020, Goff earned $49m in total money with $47m of that coming from his salary.
14. Golfer Rory McIlroy comes in at No. 14 thanks to his $52m in 2020. McIlroy’s endorsements alone made him $30m.
13. Formula One kingpin Lewis Hamilton has won four consecutive F1 championships for Mercedes. His success on the track has made him a very rich racecar driver. Hamilton earned $54m in 2020 thanks to his work behind the wheel.
12. Russell Westbrook may not have any NBA titles to his name, but he is the 12th highest played athlete of 2020 with combined earnings of $56m. In total, the Houston Rockets paid James Harden and Westbrook a total of $103.7m, but failed to reach the NBA finals in 2020.
11. Boxer Tyson Fury tops his heavyweight counterparts in earnings with $57m this year. Fury has a career record of 30 wins, zero losses, and one draw. He shared in the massive payday with Deontay Wilder in February 2020 in Las Vegas in their epic title fight. Fury recaptured the WBC heavyweight championship with a seventh-round TKO.
10. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is playing well on the field in 2020 and at the bank. He earned $59.1m in salary and endorsements combined.
9. The No. 9 highest paid athlete of the year is Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. In spite of an up and down NFL season for Cousins, he made $60.5m. Not bad for a former fourth-round draft pick.
8. Although he has had issues on and off the golf course, Tiger Woods is still a mega star in the sports world. He earned $62.3m in total money this year. Remarkably, $60m of that total sum came from endorsements.
7. Kevin Durant did not play a single game for the Brooklyn Nets in 2019-20 due to injury. It didn’t stop him from cashing in. Durant pulled down $63.9m in total earnings.
6. Durant’s former Golden State Warriors teammate, Stephen Curry, also missed most of last season through injury. He still pulled down a whopping $74.4m in total earnings. Curry is the face of the NBA and his track record of success makes him worth the money earned this year. In recent years, Curry has also shown interest in crypto, which no doubt helps his fortunes, especially with the arrival of NBA Top Shot.
5. LeBron James won the 2019-20 NBA title leading the LA Lakers to the Promised Land. His success on the hardwood has been rewarded by endorsements and the Lakers with a combined $88.2m. Still, that number is only good enough for fifth on this list.
4. Paris Saint-Germain paid Barcelona $263m for Neymar in 2017, making him the most expensive soccer player in the world. His combined earnings in 2020 hit $95.5m. Of that, $70.5 is covered by PSG, who are owned by the Qatari royal family.
3. Neymar’s former Barcelona teammate Lionel Messi had a row over his salary in the spring of 2020, not wanting to reduce it due to COVID-19. In the end, he did, but it hasn’t damaged his incredible $104m in total earnings. Messi is on the downside of his career, but thanks to his reputation, the money is still good.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo edges out long-time rival Messi for No. 2 on the list of highest paid athletes of 2020. Ronaldo earned $45m in endorsements and $60m from his club team Juventus. In total, Ronaldo made $105m. In spite of the large sum, he misses out on the top spot.
1. And coming in at No. 1 as the highest paid athlete of 2020, it may be a surprise, but tennis icon Roger Federer is the top man. Federer hasn’t won a Grand Slam tournament since 2018, which is why his earnings from winning matches was just $6.3m this year. His incredible endorsements are what sets Federer apart from the rest of the people on this list. He made $100m in endorsements. No other athlete could come close to Federer’s endorsement figure in 2020.