Leading up to the 2017 NFL draft, Marshon Lattimore ran the 40-yard dash in a blazing 4.36 seconds. But this is real acceleration: The New Orleans Saints cornerback made $40.9 million over the last 12 months after collecting $2.6 million the previous year, racing up the ranking of the World’s Highest-Paid Athletes Age 25 And Under Forbes 2022 to No. 38 before his 26th birthday.
The haul makes Lattimore one of seven stars 25 or younger to land on this year’s Forbes list of the sports world’s top earners.
It’s an exclusive group, with no shortage of barriers to entry. The top 50, as measured by earnings before taxes and agents’ fees, has an average age of 32, and only one member of the top ten—the Milwaukee Bucks’ 27-year-old superstar, Giannis Antetokounmpo—has yet to turn 30. In the NFL and the NBA, rookie salary scales suppress wages for young standouts. MLB players don’t hit the free market of free agency until they have spent six years in the big leagues.
But these seven athletes cleared those hurdles, and others, to post at least $38 million in the 12 months ending May
Here are the World’s Highest-Paid Athletes Age 25 And Under Forbes 2022
1. Josh Allen
Total Earnings: $67 million
On-Field Earnings: $63 million
Off-Field Earnings: $4 million
Allen gets onto this list under the wire: He turns 26 on May 21. The Buffalo Bills quarterback signed a six-year contract extension in August that tops out at $258 million and has $150 million in guaranteed money—an NFL record. That includes a $16.5 million signing bonus and a $42.4 million option bonus, which push Allen to the top of this ranking. Off the field, he counts Nike, Pepsi and New Era among his sponsors.
2. Naomi Osaka
Total Earnings: $59.2 million
On-Field Earnings: $1.2 million
Off-Field Earnings: $58 million
Osaka falls just short of her $60 million earnings total from last year, which set a record for a female athlete, and is one of just two women featured in the top 50, along with Serena Williams. The Japanese tennis ace has more than 20 corporate partners, including Nike, Mastercard and Louis Vuitton, as well as her own skincare line, Kinlò. She also just launched a sports agency, Evolve.
3. Max Verstappen
Total Earnings: $48 million
On-Field Earnings: $46 million
Off-Field Earnings: $2 million
Sport: Formula 1 auto racing
Verstappen clinched the 2021 F1 drivers’ championship by passing his rival Lewis Hamilton on the final lap of the final race of the season. The title came with a hefty championship bonus for the Red Bull Racing driver, who had finished in third in 2019 and 2020. Verstappen is an established star despite his young age. He was the youngest driver in F1 history, at 17, and he set another record by winning his first race at 18.
4. Kylian Mbappé
Total Earnings: $43 million
On-Field Earnings: $28 million
Off-Field Earnings: $15 million
Mbappé became a global star with his stellar showing for France as a 19-year-old at the 2018 World Cup, and he has been the top scorer in France’s Ligue 1 every season since. (The Paris Saint-Germain forward once again leads the league with 25 goals, with one game remaining in the 2021-22 season.) Mbappé, named to the 2022 Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe list in the sports category, is partnered with brands including Nike, Hublot and EA Sports.
5. Marshon Lattimore
Total Earnings: $40.9 million
On-Field Earnings: $40.8 million
Off-Field Earnings: $0.1 million
Like Allen, Lattimore just barely sneaks onto this list—he turns 26 on May 20. The Saints cornerback signed a five-year, $97.6 million contract extension in September and went on to earn his fourth Pro Bowl selection, in five NFL seasons.
6. Devin Booker
Total Earnings: $39.9 million
On-Field Earnings: $31.9 million
Off-Field Earnings: $8 million
Booker’s Phoenix Suns had a disappointing end to the season, falling to the Dallas Mavericks in the second round of the playoffs after making the NBA finals last year, but his business is just heating up. The shooting guard, who was named to the 2022 Forbes 30 Under 30 list in the sports category, partners with brands like Nike, Corona beer and Sweetgreen and has a hands-on role as a co-owner of coconut-water sports drink COCO5.
7. Jake Paul
Total Earnings: $38 million
On-Field Earnings: $30 million
Off-Field Earnings: $8 million
The YouTube star-turned-boxer is polarizing, but he had two lucrative fights against Tyron Woodley last year, plus a high-paying bout against Ben Askren that fell outside Forbes’ tracking window for this ranking. Paul was the promoter behind the April megafight between Amanda Serrano and Katie Taylor and recently announced he planned to return to the ring himself in August, with his opponent still to be determined.
Forbes’ on-field earnings figures include all prize money, salaries and bonuses earned between May 1, 2021, and May 1, 2022. In cases where players continue to be paid beyond May for a regular season that is concluded by then—as in the NBA and European soccer—we assign the full season of salary. Playoff bonuses are included for the 2021 NFL season and the 2020-21 NBA season.
Off-field earnings figures are an estimate of sponsorship deals, appearance fees and memorabilia and licensing income for the 12 months leading to May 1, 2022, plus cash returns from any businesses operated by the athlete, based on conversations with industry insiders. Forbes does not include investment income such as interest payments or dividends but does account for payouts from equity stakes athletes have sold.
Forbes does not deduct for taxes or agents’ fees.