Top 10 Highest Paid Athletes in the World – Who are They?

Top 10 Highest Paid Athletes in the World – Who are They?

© IMAGO

Cristiano Ronaldo remains the highest paid athlete in the world, according to the 2024 annual list by Forbes.

Ronaldo topped the list last year after joining Saudi Pro League side Al-Nassr and the Portuguese legend has once again beaten out the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi in 2024.

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The Saudi Arabian influence dominates the list, with a handful of athletes receiving money from Gulf football clubs or sporting events sponsored by the country.

READ MORE: Premier League summer transfers 2024: All the Done Deals

The list contains stars from the NBA, NFL and LIV Golf, although footballers make up the bulk of the top ten and command the highest total among all sports.

The top ten is outlined below, with the amounts converted from dollars to euros and rounded to the nearest million.

Which athletes earn the most money?

Rank Athlete Sport Team Total earnings (€)
1 Cristiano Ronaldo Football Al-Nassr €239m
2 Jon Rahm Golf LIV Golf €200m
3 Lionel Messi Football Inter Miami €124m
4 LeBron James Basketball LA Lakers €118m
5 Giannis Antetokuomnpo Basketball Milwaukee Bucks €102m
6 Kylian Mbappe Football PSG €101m
7 Neymar Football Al-Hilal €98m
8 Karim Benzema Football Al-Ittihad €98m
9 Steph Curry Basketball Golden State Warriors €95m
10 Lamar Jackson American Football Baltimore Ravens €84m

Ronaldo remains in first place after returning to the top spot last year following his move to Saudi Arabia, which nets the superstar a salary of €184m in addition to his off-the-pitch endorsements, calculated at €55m, for a total earnings of €239m.

READ MORE: Cristiano Ronaldo at Al-Nassr: Goals, assists, results & fixtures

The second-highest earner is the biggest riser in the list is Spanish golfer Jon Rahm, who earned $182m from the Saudi-backed LIV golf along with €18m in off-field endorsements, totalling €200m.

Lionel Messi is the third-highest earning athlete of 2024
© IMAGO – Lionel Messi is the third-highest earning athlete of 2024

Messi rounds off the top three and, while the World Cup winner joined Inter Miami last year, his €60m salary is secondary to his €64m of endorsements, giving him €124m in total.

READ MORE: Lionel Messi at Inter Miami: Goals, assists, results & fixtures in 2024

NBA legend LeBron James is fourth on the list and the Los Angeles Lakers superstar could get a bumper new contract this summer, with his current deal worth €44m and his off-court earnings worth €74m for a total of €118m.

Another basketball star in Giannis Antetokounmpo is next, with the ‘Greek freak’ earning €42m in salary and €60m in endorsements, totalling €102m.

The 2021 highest earner in Mbappe is only sixth in 2024, although his earnings could change substantially when he completes his move from Paris Saint-Germain to Real Madrid, with his current earnings netting him a total of €101m from €83m salary and €18m endorsements.

Kylian Mbappe and Neymar also make the top ten of the list
© IMAGO – Kylian Mbappe and Neymar also make the top ten of the list

Having joined Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal last summer, Mbappe’s old teammate Neymar is seventh, with his contract earning him €74m and €25m in sponsorships, totalling €99m.

Another Saudi Pro League star is next as Karim Benzema earns an astonishing €92m salary but only €6m in endorsements for a combined €98m.

2022 Ballon d'Or winner Karim Benzema is in the top 10.
© IMAGO – 2022 Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema is in the top 10.

Golden State Warriors legend Steph Curry is ninth with €48m salary and €47m in endorsements for a total of €95m.

Rounding off the top ten is the only NFL star in the list, with Lamar Jackson’s new deal at the Baltimore Ravens netting him a signing bonus of €67m on top of a salary of €15m, while his €2m in endorsements totals €84m.

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