Highest-Paid Athletes In The World Forbes 2022 Made Nearly $3 Billion; Here’s A Breakdown Of The Numbers
The world’s 50 highest-paid athletes raked in $2.97 billion before taxes and agents’ fees over the 12 months ending May 1, thereby smashing 2021’s record total of $2.76 billion.
Highest-Paid Athletes In The World Forbes 2022
- Lebron James Net Worth Forbes – $126.9M
- Lionel Messi Net Worth Forbes – $122M
- Cristiano Ronaldo Net Worth Forbes – $115M
- Neymar Net Worth Forbes 2022 – $103M
- Canelo Alvarez Net Worth Forbes 2022 – $89M
- Roger Federer Net Worth Forbes 2022 – $85.7M
- Tiger Woods Net Worth Forbes 2022 – 73.5M
- Matthew Stafford Net Worth Forbes 2022 – $73.3M
- Conor McGregor Net Worth Forbes 2022 – $52M
This year’s list features many more notable numbers, however. Here’s a breakdown.
The number of athletes who surpassed $100 million in total earnings over the last 12 months.
LeBron James, with $121.2 million, reaches the milestone for the first time on the Forbes athletes list while Lionel Messi ($130 million) and Cristiano Ronaldo ($115 million) are each five-time members of the century club. Only seven other athletes have ever accomplished the feat: Roger Federer, Floyd Mayweather, Conor McGregor, Neymar, Manny Pacquiao, Dak Prescott and Tiger Woods.
The number of athletes in the top 50 who had never appeared on a Forbes athletes list
boxer Jake Paul and football players Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, Marshon Lattimore, Ryan Ramczyk and T.J. Watt. The NFL’s huge signing bonuses, which are generally paid upfront, ensure that turnover is high. For instance, Matthew Stafford ranks 13th on this year’s list with $72.3 million in total earnings, with $60 million of that from his signing bonus. But his on-field earnings are set to drop to $27.5 million for next year’s tracking window, which—even combined with his $2.5 million annual haul off the field—will very likely keep him out of the top 50.
THE WORLD’S 50 HIGHEST-PAID ATHLETES BY SPORT
The number of sports represented on the list, led by basketball with 18 athletes. Football has 14, followed by soccer (5), boxing (3), golf (3), tennis (3), Formula 1 auto racing (2), baseball (1) and mixed martial arts (1). Other sports—including cricket, hockey and Nascar—do not have an athlete represented.
The Countries with highest number represented on the list of highest paid athletes in the world 2022
The U.S. is home to 35 of the ranked athletes. The U.K., with Tyson Fury, Lewis Hamilton and Rory McIlroy, is the only other country with more than one.
THE WORLD’S 50 HIGHEST-PAID ATHLETES BY COUNTRY
The total number of athletes in the top 50 who did not appear on last year’s list. That includes names like Kawhi Leonard and Rory McIlroy who made the 2020 ranking but were missing in 2021.
The average age of the highest paid athletes in the world 2022
Kylian Mbappé, at 23, is the youngest, one of seven athletes in the ranking who are 25 or younger. Phil Mickelson, at 51, is the oldest. Four athletes are in their 40s: Tiger Woods (46), Tom Brady (44), Roger Federer (40) and Serena Williams (40).
$43,500: The amount Tiger Woods earned in prize money during Forbes’ tracking window, the lowest on-field earnings figure on the list. Woods, whose injuries from a February 2021 car accident limited his competitive schedule to this year’s Masters, comes in at No. 14 thanks to an estimated $68 million in off-field earnings. In addition to lucrative endorsements with brands such as Nike, Rolex and TaylorMade, he earned $8 million from the PGA Tour’s Player Impact Program, designed to reward the golfers who bring the most attention to the game.
$37.6 million: The cutoff to make this year’s top 50, as set by Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt. That beats the previous high of $34 million, from last year, and represents a 69% rise since 2013.
10 YEARS OF THE HIGHEST-PAID ATHLETES IN THE WORLD 2022, BY CUTOFF
$38 million: Jake Paul’s 12-month earnings, including $30 million from two fights and $8 million outside the ring. The 25-year-old YouTube star made his pro boxing debut less than two and a half years ago and has since become one of the sport’s biggest draws.
$40 million: Canelo Alvarez’s reported earnings from his May 7 loss to Dmitry Bivol. The bout fell just outside Forbes’ tracking window and didn’t contribute to Alvarez’s $90 million total, which landed him at No. 8. If the $40 million had been included, Alvarez would have tied with Lionel Messi for No. 1.
$43 million: Conor McGregor’s 12-month earnings, putting him in a tie for No. 35 with Kylian Mbappé. Factoring out the $150 million Forbes estimates he made last year from the sale of his majority stake in Irish whiskey brand Proper No. Twelve, that represents a $13 million increase on his total from 2021, when he topped the ranking with $180 million.
$45.3 million: Phil Mickelson’s 12-month earnings, including $42 million off the course. Mickelson hasn’t competed since stirring up controversy with the February publication of his comments that he was willing to ignore alleged human rights violations in Saudi Arabia as he looked to join a forthcoming golf league. Sponsors including Workday, KPMG and Amstel Light have dropped him, but the loss in endorsements was offset by the $6 million he won from the PGA Tour’s Player Impact Program and the August sale of six golf courses he co-owned in Arizona.
$49.5 million: Mike Trout’s 12-month earnings. That leaves him just shy of the $50.6 million record he set for baseball players in 2019, after he signed a 12-year, $426.5 million contract. Trout, the only MLB player on this year’s list after 2021’s featured none, scored a sizable payout off his equity stake in Bodyarmor when Coca-Cola bought the sports drink brand in the fall. James Harden (No. 12, $74.4 million) was among the others who took home a handsome reward from that deal.
$59.2 million: Naomi Osaka’s 12-month earnings, just behind the $60 million she posted on last year’s list to set a record for female athletes. Serena Williams boosted her 12-month total to $45.3 million, the best mark of her career, but the two tennis aces, who rank 19th and 31st, are the only women to appear in the top 50.
$80.9 million: Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 12-month earnings, representing the cutoff to make the top ten. The threshold is the highest ever, up from last year’s $75 million.
$121.2 million: LeBron James’ 12-month earnings, a record for an NBA player, beating the $96.5 million mark he set last year. He is one of just four athletes—along with Roger Federer, Conor McGregor and Tiger Woods—to have made more than $70 million off the field in a year; he took home an estimated $80 million in our tracking window.
$130 million: Lionel Messi’s 12-month earnings, tying the record for soccer players he set last year and pushing him to the top of this year’s ranking. In his first season at Paris Saint-Germain, Messi’s salary is down some $22 million from his final year with Barcelona, but a major new partnership with fan engagement app Socios helped make up the difference.
690 million: Cristiano Ronaldo’s follower count across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, by far the highest in sports. It helps explain the sky-high rates he can command from sponsors such as Nike and Herbalife.
10 YEARS OF OFF-THE-FIELD EARNINGS
Here are the total off-field earnings figures (including endorsements, appearances, memorabilia, licensing fees and other business endeavors) for the world’s 50 highest-paid athletes each year since 2013.
$1.06 billion: The amount this year’s top 50 collected off the field from endorsements and their other business endeavors, beating last year’s record of $1.04 billion. Roger Federer leads the way this time around with $90 million, accounting for almost all of his $90.7 million total. Seven other athletes made at least $50 million off the field: LeBron James ($80 million), Tiger Woods ($68 million), Naomi Osaka ($58 million), Lionel Messi ($55 million), Cristiano Ronaldo ($55 million), Tom Brady ($52 million) and Kevin Durant ($50 million).