HomeTop ListTop Ten Highest-Paid Athletes in 2021

Top Ten Highest-Paid Athletes in 2021

So, who are the Top Ten Highest-Paid Athletes in 2024? Is your favorite athlete on this list?

COVID-19 pandemic has brutally affected different areas of all, and sports is no exception. Since World war II no one has witnessed such turmoil in the sports industry.

The UEFA EURO Championship was scheduled to take place in the summer, was pushed back from 2020 to 2021.

For the first time in its 124-year history, the Boston Marathon was canceled.

This year’s Formula One schedule had no Monaco Grand Prix for the first time since 1954.

Since the above facts showed that major sporting events were affected last year, we could guess that our favorite athletes are not getting the big money they used to get.

Well, it is not entirely true.

According to the report published by Forbes, the ten highest-paid athletes earned pre-tax gross profits of US$1.05 billion in the previous year, which is 28% more than the top earners in 2020.

Athletes earn their fortune on the field through their salaries, game bonus, and awards and off the field through brand endorsements.

Quick Look

Let’s have a quick sneak peek into the list of the top ten highest-paid athletes of the world right now.

Rank Athlete Name Yearly Earnings
10 Kevin Durrant $75 million
9 Tom Brady $76 million
8 Lewis Hamilton $82 million
7 Roger Federer $90 million
6 Neymar $95 million
5 LeBron James $96.5 million
4 Dak Prescott $107.5 million
3 Cristiano Ronaldo $120 million
2 Lionel Messi $130 million
1 Conor McGregor $180 million

This list is based on reports published by Forbes and timesnownews.

Let’s check the whole list now.

10. Kevin Durant

Kevin Wayne Durant, popularly known as KD, is one of the most famous NBA players.

This year he earned $75 million through his salary, endorsements, and investment.

Specifically, he earned $31 million through his salary and awards and $44 million through endorsement deals.

He has a multimillion-dollar contract with Brooklyn Nets in the NBA. The pro basketball player is also an investor.

His company, Thirty-Five Venture, has been actively investing in early stages business firms, seed and secondary markets, including companies like Q Bio, Suzy, and Acorns.

Recently in 2020, Q Bio earned Thirty-Five Ventures over $40 million. 

Kevin Durrant
Kevin Durrant (source: amNewYork.com)

Moreover, in 2016 he had invested in a company called Postmateswhich was acquired by Uber in 2020.

His initial investment of one million dollars in the company has cashed him heavy wealth from the Uber deal at a discounted entry price.

Kevin became an executive producer of a short movie titled “Two Distant Strangers,” which won an Oscar for best live-action short film in April. 

As of May, 2024, his net worth is $200 million.

Click here to see the list of the shortest NBA players in the world. 

9. Tom Brady

Even at the age of 43, the professional American football Tom Brady is not stopping.

This year the greatest quarterback of the NFL earned $76 million: $45 million through salary and bonus and $31 million through endorsements and investments.

In 2020, he ended a 20 years long NFL career in New England and signed a $50 million contract with Tampa Bay Buccaneers for two years. 

Brady and Tampa Bay Buccaneers extended their contract to four years.

Tom Brady with his family
Tom Brady with his family (source: instagram.com)

In 2021, his endorsement with the Danish eyewear Christopher Cloos made more money when he extended the Cloos X Brady collection with Hermosa sunglasses.

Furthermore, the seventh super bowl title also added fortunes to the salary of Tom Brady.

His sports performance and nutrition company TB12 is also one of the rich sources of income.

Besides, this year he also launched a film production company and an NBT platform called Autograph with former MySpace owner.

8. Lewis Hamilton

Formula 1 fan can never forget the memories that the seven times champion Lewis Hamilton has given.

Arguably one of the most incredible formula one player of the world, Lewis has made to the top ten list this year.

Lewis Hamilton signing a contract
Lewis Hamilton signing a contract (source: instagram.com)

There is no doubt that formula one players risk their lives on the race track.

Therefore, the insane amount of money that players get makes it justifiable.

Lewis Hamilton made $82 million this year. He earned $70 million through salary alone.

The formula one superstar extended his contract with Mercedes in 2021, which is worth $55 million. 

His win in the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix and 11 race wins last season also brought him hefty money through endorsement deals with Tommy Hilfiger, Monster Energy, and Puma.

Lewis earned $12 million only through endorsements.

7. Roger Federer

Could it be true that an athlete is in the top ten highest-paid athletes of the world, even if he has not earned a single penny from his sport?

Well, it can be if you are a tennis superstar Roger Federer.

After double arthroscopic knee surgery, Roger Federer did not play any tennis last year.

Still, he has managed to be on the list.

Being the only tennis player on the list, it is no surprise that Roger Federer has made a huge amount of money from his endorsement deals with different industry giants like Rolex, Uniqlo, and Credit Suisse.

Roger Federer in an empty stadium in 2021
Roger Federer in Wimbledon (source: instagram.com)

This year too, he made nearly $90 million off the field, the majority of which came from the endorsement deals.

Furthermore, his biggest payday of the year might still be on the way when the Swiss sportswear company floats its IPO this 2021 autumn. 

Federer had invested a tremendous amount of money in this company, and this year might be a great chance that his investments will start making a significant amount of money.

This year, roger signed new deals with Mercedes-Benz, Switzerland tourism, Lindt, and Barilla. 

6. Neymar

It was not long ago when the PSG star Neymar was considered the contender for the greatest footballer of the era when Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo retire.

Well, the Brazilian hero has pushed himself further being on this list.

Neymar is the third most famous sportsman in the world behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, so it is pretty obvious that Neymar will draw major brands towards him.

This year Neymar earned a total of $95 million, $76 million of it came from his record-breaking deal with PSG.

That deal made Neymar leave Lionel Messi and Barcelona and go to France to show his fantastic dribbling skills.

Neymar with his Puma Shoes
Neymar Jr. with his Puma shoes (source: Instagram.com)

In 2021, he also became the brand ambassador of Puma shoes, where he revealed the signature version of its fastest and lightest King shoes ever.

In fact, his 30 million dollars per year deal with Puma is the highest personal deal for any sportsman in the world.

Furthermore, Neymar also earns a significant amount of money from his deals with other giants, including Beats Electronics, DAZN, Electronic Arts, Gillette, MasterCard, Red Bull, and TCL.

5. Lebron James

Michael Jordan is one of the greatest sportsmen ever to have played any sport.

If there is any basketball player near Jordan, the feat is none other than LeBron James.

The year 2021 also brought enough fortunes for Lebron James to be at number five on this list.

This year he earned a total of $96.5 million, which includes $31.5 million from his salary and winnings and $65 million from endorsements and investments.

This huge money from endorsements is because he is the only NBA player to be on this list.

LeBron James
LeBron James (source: pinterest.com)

LeBron released his movie Space Jam: A New Legacy in 2021, which collected $94 million at the box office.

After ending the long-time contract with Coca-Cola, LeBron also made a huge deal with PepsiCo.

It is no surprise that the NBA superstar is also an active investor who recently brought the stakes of the Fenway sports group.

Fenway sports group owns Liverpool FC and Roush Fenway Racing. 

Check out the list of the most expensive sneakers ever made.

4. Dak Prescott

Being the quarterback of the world’s most valuable team will always bring you a fortune, and if we are talking about one of the greatest players right now, Dak Prescott, then it makes proper sense.

Dak made a huge amount of money from the $60 million bonus signing with a $160 million contract extension with the Dallas Cowboys.

Top Highest-Paid Athletes Dak Prescott in a game
Dak Prescott in a game (source: instagram.com)

After returning from an ankle injury, Dak Prescott has made new deals with Sleep Number, 7/11, and DirecTV.

Furthermore, he has also invested in the restaurant chain Walk-On’s four Texas franchises. 

This year the superstar made $107.5 million, including $97.5 million from his new deal and bonus earnings and $10 million from his endorsements and recent investments.

3. Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo, an Italian soccer star, earned a total of $120 million and is third on our list.

His salary is $70 million, while his endorsements are worth $50 million. It takes him to an elite club of over $100 million dollars per year, earning athlete. 

He is also extremely popular on social media, where he became the first person in the world to reach 500 million followers across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Top Highest-Paid Athletes Cristiano Ronaldo with his new car in 2021
Cristiano Ronaldo with his new car in 2021 (source: instagram.com)

Ronaldo, a five-time FIFA player of the year, will be the first current team-sport athlete to earn more than $1 billion in lifetime earnings in 2021.

He has had a multimillion-dollar contract with Nike for years. 

Besides, Ronaldo generates money off the field with his CR7-branded clothes, accessories, hotels, and gyms.

His recent act of taking the Coca-Cola bottle out of sight took social media by storm.

It is also reported that due to this act, Coco-Cola lost billions on a single day.

2. Lionel Messi

The 32-year-old football superstar is the second in the list of the top ten highest-paid athletes in 2021.

The soccer player’s estimated net earning is $130 million, including $92 million in salary and earnings and another $34 million in endorsements.

Messi’s yearly salary of $33million amounts to nearly $700,000 each week. Messi is now one of the highest-paid athletes in the world.

Messi has won FIFA’s Player of the Year award and the European Golden Shoe for best scorer on the continent six times, which itself is a breath-taking record.

According to the leaked contract, Messi was making far more at FC Barcelona than initially known, but the contract was set to expire in June 2021.

Top Highest-Paid Athletes Lionel Messi with Copa America Trophy
Lionel Messi with Copa America trophy (source: Instagram.com)

Apart from his regular pay at Barcelona FC, he also earns a share of the winnings when Barcelona wins a title.

In 2019, he launched his clothing line and established his retail store, the Messi Store, in Barcelona.

He also has a long-term deal with Adidas.

His recent win in Copa America will help him earn more in the coming years.

Recently, Lionel Messi has received a formal two-year contract offer from Paris Saint-Germain.

The club has offered Messi an initial two-year deal, thought to be worth $34 million a year after tax, and his representatives are now reviewing and considering it carefully.

1. Conor McGregor

The top of our list of top ten highest-paid athletes in the world right now is Conor Anthony McGregor.

He is an Irish MMA fighter, boxing champion, and business tycoon.

Proper No. Twelve, an Irish whiskey distillery launched by McGregor in 2018, is currently accessible in eight countries, including the U.S.

McGregor made a net profit of $180 million over the last year, the huge percentage of which came from the sale of his significant stake in whiskey brand Proper No. Twelve to Proximo Spirits for $150 million. 

Top Highest-Paid Athletes Conor during his recent fight
Conor during his recent fight (source: Instagram.com)

Conor has previously appeared on this list, but this is his first time at the top.

Along with unmatched popularity in mixed martial arts, he has established a flourishing side hustle outside of the UFC’s Octagon; McGregor ends up winning the year.

He earned $22 million from his salary earnings and $158 million from endorsements and sponsorship.

Conor also collected an estimated $22 million for the Poirier fight and more than $30 million for his last fight, a defeat of Donald.

Furthermore, he owns an agency named Paradigm Sports Management.



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