Lists and Curiosities
The best-paid athletes of 2022
Thirty-two years ago, the highest-paid athlete was Mike Tyson. Today, who do you think is the best-paid athlete?
Forbes magazine researches and compiles lists of the richest people in the world, both in business and in sports.
When they started the list of the highest-paid athletes in the world, the highest-paying sport was boxing. Thirty-two years ago, the highest-paid athlete was Mike Tyson, with an estimated value of $28.6 million.
But today, in addition to the appreciation that many sports have gained in recent years, much of the earnings of the world’s top athletes come from the marketing campaigns in which they participate.
To give you an idea, the 10 biggest sports stars combined, over 12 months, total about $992 million. This is the sum of what they earn from their annual salaries and income from their off-the-field performances in advertising campaigns, brand licensing, and other sources.
So let’s find out who the top 3 on this list are and what they do:
#1. Lionel Messi – $130 million
The leader of the list is the Famous soccer player Lionel Messi. This year, with a revenue of $130 million, being:
- On-Field: $75 Million
- Off-Field: $55 Million
The 35-year-old Argentinean has partnerships with major brands, including Adidas, Budweiser, and PepsiCo. Currently playing for Paris Saint-German, his track record justifies how much he is sought after by the biggest soccer clubs in the world.
He holds a record of seven FIFA Ballons d’Or/Best Player in the World and a record six Golden Boots.
Messi spent almost his entire professional career at Barcelona, and he is the club’s all-time top scorer, as well as having won 35 trophies. In the Spanish league alone, he scored 474 goals.
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#2. Lebron James – $121.2 million
Another sport where players are paid very well is basketball, specifically in the United States. With $121.2 million in earnings this year, Lebron James, 37, currently plays for the Los Angeles Lakers. The division of this sum was as follows:
- On-Field: $41.2 Million
- Off-Field: $80 Million
Off the field, his wealth comes from investments in soccer teams and participation in television commercials and movies, such as Space Jam 2.
In 2017, back with the Cavaliers, he became the all-time leading scorer in playoff history with 5,989 points, surpassing Michael Jordan’s 5,987 points.
In 2020, he led the Lakers to the NBA title, becoming the first player to be champion and NBA Finals MVP by three different NBA teams.
#3. Cristiano Ronaldo – $115 million
Let’s go back to European soccer. With about $155 million earned in 2022, 37-year-old Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo is the third highest-paid athlete of the year. Also a commercial star of big brands, his earnings are divided into:
- On-Field: $60 Million
- Off-Field: $55 Million
Cristiano is considered one of the greatest players of all time. He has already won 5 Ballon d’Or and 32 trophies in his career.
In addition to having scored more than 800 goals in professional games, he is also a record holder for most appearances (183), goals (140), assists (42) in the Champions League, goals in the European Championship (14), international goals (117), and international appearances by a European (189).
He is one of the few players to have made over 1,100 professional career appearances.
In his off-field performances, a good part of his income 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.
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