The most talented highest paid athletes 2022 in the world spent most of the year 2022 on the sidelines, laboring for lower pay, playing in front of empty seats, or isolating themselves in competitive bubbles trying to combat a pandemic that has drained billions of dollars from professional sports. Despite this, things are going swimmingly for the very best of the very best, at least in terms of the weight that their finances carry.
Highest Paid Athletes 2022
This year, Conor McGregor strikes the winning punch by capitalizing on his unparalleled fame in mixed martial arts to develop a profitable business outside of the Octagon of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). The brazen McGregor has amassed a total of $180 million in the last year; the bulk of this money comes from the recent sale of his controlling ownership in the whiskey brand Proper No. Twelve to Proximo Spirits for the amount of $150 million.
It is the first time that the 32-year-old fighter has ever held the top spot, and it is just his second time in the top 10 overall (after his bout versus Mayweather in 2018, he landed at No. 4 with $99 million). In recent tweets, McGregor has shown an outlandish interest in purchasing Manchester United, the most expensive club in the Premier League. McGregor wants to put his money to use in other ways than buying liquor with it.
When you factor in the money he made from endorsements, Conor McGregor earned $158 million outside of his fighting career over the past year. He is only the third athlete in history, following in the footsteps of Roger Federer and Tiger Woods, to earn more than $70 million off the field in a single year while still competing in their sport.
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List of most expensive players of the year ( Highest Paid Athletes )
Lionel Messi (Highest Paid Athletes)
Messi topped the list of the 10 highest paid athletes for the 12-month period that ended on May 1, 2022, with earnings of $130 million, including $55 million earned from endorsements. It places Messi on the list a year after finishing second to Irish MMA fighter Conor McGregor.
Lionel Messi’s $20 million-a-year partnership with Socios adds to an endorsement portfolio that includes Adidas, Budweiser and PepsiCo. He also became Hard Rock International’s first athlete brand ambassador in a deal announced last June, helping Messi draw level with Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo with his off-field earnings for the first time since 2013. Messi won the Ballon d’Or in 2021 as the world’s best men’s soccer player, but he has had a tougher time on the pitch more recently, scoring just nine goals in 32 appearances for Paris Saint-Germain after notching 38 in 47 games in his final season for Barcelona. But while PSG flamed out in the Champions League’s Round of 16, the club captured the French Ligue 1 title in Messi’s first season.
Lebron James (Highest Paid Athletes)
The NBA icon appeared in the movie ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy,’ and he just decided to shift his chat show, ‘The Shop,’ from HBO to YouTube. James increased his net worth to $850 million after selling a significant minority investment in a production firm in October.
LeBron James’ Los Angeles Lakers missed the playoffs this season, but he’s never been so dominant off the court. He starred in last year’s Space Jam: A New Legacy and recently moved his talk show, The Shop, from HBO to YouTube. In October, he sold a significant minority stake in SpringHill—the production company behind both projects—at a valuation of about $725 million, pushing his net worth to $850 million, according to Forbes’ estimates. After announcing an endorsement deal with Crypto.com in January, James appeared in a Super Bowl commercial next to a computer-generated version of his younger self. He also recently invested in home gym company Tonal and StatusPRO, a sports tech startup that creates virtual reality training products.
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Christiano Ronaldo (Highest Paid Athletes)
It was a challenging year for Cristiano Ronaldo, a top player for Manchester United. Whether the challenges were personal or on the field, he was put through an emotional ringer in each situation. The Portuguese celebrity has amassed the most followers on Instagram and is involved in various companies, including those his hotel chain, clothes, and others.
Like his rival Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo has had a disappointing first season with his new team, with Manchester United stuck in sixth place in the Premier League standings with one game remaining. Rumors are now swirling that Ronaldo, who previously played for Man U from 2003 to 2009, could be on the move once more in this summer’s transfer window. Much of Ronaldo’s earning power comes from his massive social media presence: He has 690 million followers across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, giving him leverage to demand sky-high rates from sponsors such as Nike, Herbalife and Clear shampoo. He is also an investor in Tatel restaurants—including a new location in Beverly Hills—and is the face of ZujuGP, a forthcoming app aiming to be a digital soccer community.
Neymar (Highest Paid Athletes)
Neymar has several lucrative endorsement deals, including ones with Puma and Red Bull and a docuseries on Netflix called Neymar: The Perfect Chaos. The top player for PSG has a lucrative contract with the French club, but he is also starting to invest in NFTs lately.
Neymar scored his 400th career goal in November, but like Lionel Messi, he was stung by criticism after Paris Saint-Germain’s early Champions League exit. His attention will now shift to the World Cup in Qatar this fall, which he has said could be his last. Off the field, he has a valuable set of endorsements, including Puma and Red Bull, and he is the subject of a new Netflix docuseries, Neymar: The Perfect Chaos. He is also diving into the world of NFTs, signing with the platform NFTSTAR in November and spending over $1 million on two Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs in one day in January.
Stephen Curry (Highest Paid Athletes)
After signing a four-year agreement for $215 million in August, the star player for the Golden State Warriors is now the highest-paid athlete in the National Basketball Association (NBA). In the following season, he will earn a sum close to $48 million.
No NBA player made more in salary this season than Stephen Curry, and the Golden State Warriors guard is due for a raise after signing a four-year, $215 million extension last August. He’ll make roughly $48 million on the court next season, rising to just under $60 million in 2025-26. Curry’s new FTX endorsement deal also came with an equity stake, and he dived deeper into blockchain in December, releasing a collection of NFTs that featured his sneakers and were tied to three metaverse platforms. (He pledged to donate the proceeds.) Meanwhile, Curry’s production company, Unanimous Media, signed a development deal with Comcast NBCUniversal in September.
Kevin Durant (Highest Paid Athletes)
Kevin Durant, a famous player in the NBA, has a contract with Nike that pays him $28 million annually. Aside from that, he has other business partnerships with companies such as Coinbase, NBA Top Shot, and Weedmaps.
Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant brings in roughly $28 million annually from Nike, a sneaker deal surpassed only by LeBron James’ ($32 million) among active players. He has recently added deals with Coinbase, NBA Top Shot and Weedmaps, but with media company Boardroom and investment firm Thirty Five Ventures, his business empire goes far beyond endorsements. NFT platform OpenSea and digital fitness startup Future are among his latest investments, and he is backing SeatGeek’s SPAC merger. Durant and his longtime business partner, Rich Kleiman, also announced last year that they would launch a SPAC of their own; it is still seeking an acquisition.
Roger Federer (Highest Paid Athletes)
During 2020 and 2021, former world No. 1 Roger Federer participated in just six different events. On the other hand, the myth is used for advertising luxury products such as Rolex and Uniqlo. 2018 has not yet seen Roger compete in a single competition (2022).
Injuries limited Roger Federer to six tournaments in 2020 and 2021 combined, and he has yet to return to the tennis court in 2022. No matter—the world’s former No. 1 player remains the top pitchman in sports, promoting brands such as Uniqlo and Rolex. He also invested in the burgeoning Swiss shoe brand On in 2019, and the company went public in September, raising more than $600 million. “We work very closely together on product design,” Federer told Forbes at the time, having spent 20 days in the lab with the On team developing the company’s pro tennis shoe.
Canelo Alvarez (Highest Paid Athletes)
Canelo Alvarez made at least $40 million in revenue from the two bouts he had in May and November last year. A relationship with Hennessy and a taco restaurant in Mexico are also part of Boxer’s top-tier business portfolio.
Canelo Alvarez is boxing’s top draw, earning $40 million or more from his two pay-per-view victories last May and November. (His loss to light-heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol on May 7, 2022, fell outside Forbes’ tracking window for this list.) Beyond the ring, Alvarez has a lucrative partnership with Hennessy and owns a taco restaurant in his native Mexico, with plans to expand to California. Alvarez said last year that he would be launching a chain of gas stations, and his Canelo Promotions is putting together a series of fights in Mexico in partnership with Matchroom Boxing and DAZN.
Tom Brady (Highest Paid Athletes)
Tom Brady, the winner of seven Super Bowls, retired earlier this year, but only for a little over a month. After that, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were relieved to hear that he would be returning to the team after his successful season in 2021 when he was 43 years old.
Tom Brady’s retirement this off-season lasted less than six weeks, which was welcome news for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after he turned in a spectacular 2021 season at age 43. He’s certainly learning some new tricks off the field. Autograph, the NFT platform Brady cofounded last year, raised $170 million in a Series B funding round announced in January, and Religion of Sports, the production company he cofounded with Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Strahan and filmmaker Gotham Chopra, unveiled a content deal with Skydance Sports in March. Meanwhile, his other production company, 199 Productions, is behind the upcoming road-trip movie 80 for Brady, and he has a new clothing line cleverly named BRADY. And when it is finally time to retire permanently from football, Brady already has his next lucrative gig lined up: a commentator role with Fox Sports. According to the New York Post, that deal is set to pay him more than he has earned on the field across 22 seasons in the NFL—$375 million over ten years.
FAQ’s ( Highest Paid Athletes )
Who’s the highest paid athletes 2022?
- Lionel Messi: $130 million.
- LeBron James: $121.2 million.
- Cristiano Ronaldo: $115 million.
- Neymar: $95 million.
- Stephen Curry: $92.8 million.
- Kevin Durant: $92.1 million.
- Roger Federer: $90.7 million.
- Canelo Alvarez: $90 million.
Is Messi the highest paid athletes?
Three of the world’s four highest paid athletes over the past year were soccer players, according to Forbes’ 2022 list.
Lionel Messi Tops Forbes’ Highest Paid Athletes List 2022 Ahead Of Cristiano Ronaldo In 3rd.
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