May 16, 2022

The 10 Highest-Paid Athletes in 2022, Ranked

Sports contracts are getting more lucrative every year, but that's just one piece of the puzzle for superstar athletes these days. 

New television contracts, the emergence of social media while players become their own brands have made these premier athletes even more of a draw. 

But which of the biggest athletes in the world make the most money? 

Thanks to Forbes, we have a better idea. We've listed the 10 highest-paid athletes in 2022, according to Forbes. 

10. Giannis Antetokounmpo: $80.9 Million

The youngest player on this list at just 27, Giannis Antetokounmpo is set to rake in nearly $81 million this season through on- and off-court deals. 

The reigning NBA Finals MVP inked a five-year, $228 million pact with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2020 which pays him nearly $40 million this season. 

Off the court, the Greek Freak has a plethora of sponsorship deals and he's an investor which accounts for $41 million in revenue, according to Forbes. 

9. Tom Brady: $83.9 Million

After flirting with retirement this offseason, Tom Brady is the oldest player on this list and the biggest earner in the NFL. This number should skyrocket once Brady finally calls it quits and starts his 10-year, $375 million deal with Fox Sports.

But for now, he'll have to settle for making nearly $84 million in 2022, with more than $52 million coming in off-the-field revenue, per Forbes.  

8. Canelo Alvarez: $90 Million

Despite losing his first boxing bout since 2013, Canelo Alvarez is still the biggest draw in the sport of boxing. 

In his two previous pay-per-view boxing victories, Alvarez pocketed more than $40 million. 

Outside of the ring, Alvarez reportedly made just $5 million thanks to a pact with Hennessy and ownership in a Mexican restaurant that will reportedly expand to the United States. 

7. Roger Federer: $90.7 Million

Roger Federer might be past his prime, sure, but he's still raking in the big bucks thanks to his marketability off the tennis court. 

The eight-time Wimbledon champion appeared in just six tournaments last year due to injuries, which limited him to just $700,000 in on-court earnings. But Federer still banked $90 million thanks to deals with Uniqlo, Rolex and an investment in the Swiss shoe company On. 

6. Kevin Durant: $92.1 Million

Kevin Durant might have lost in the playoffs to the Greek Freak last year, but at least the Nets star outearned his Eastern Conference rival by more than $12 million in 2022. 

Thanks to a new four-year, $194.2 million deal with Brooklyn, Durant will make more than $44 million on the court this season. He earned another $50 million on top of that, too. He pockets $28 million per year from his Nike deal while his company, Thirty Five Ventures, has been quite lucrative for the former NBA MVP. 

5. Stephen Curry: $92.8 Million

Durant's former Golden State Warriors teammate Stephen Curry narrowly edged out the Slim Reaper by just $700,000, says Forbes. 

The greatest shooter in NBA history will make slightly more than $48 million next season in the first year of a $215.4 million contract.

Curry is also pretty marketable. He inked an endorsement deal with FTX that included equity while he also has dipped his toe into the Hollywood scene, recently signing a deal with NBCUniversal.  

4. Neymar: $95 Million

We couldn't forget about the biggest soccer stars in the world. 

Neymar will pocket a whopping $70 million in 2022 from his deal with Paris Saint-Germain. According to Forbes, the Brazilian star makes $25 million per year in endorsement deals with the likes of Puma and Red Bull. 

3. Cristiano Ronaldo: $115 Million 

Just three athletes will crack the $100-million-per-year mark in 2022. The first is Cristiano Ronaldo. 

After signing with Manchester United in 2021, CR7 will make $60 million on the pitch while pocketing another $55 million in endorsements and investments. 

At 37, Ronaldo might be slowing down but his bank account surely isn't. 

2. LeBron James: $121.2 Million

LeBron James' Lakers season ended in the disappointment of missing the playoffs, but that certainly won't hurt the King's income. 

James will enter the final year of his pact with the Lakers next season, which will pay him slight less than $45 million. 

Of course, James is a huge star off the court, too. 

He starred in Space Jam: A New Legacy and sold a minority stake in his production company, SpringHill, at a valuation of $725 million. 

Forbes puts James' net worth at $850 million following the deal. 

1. Lionel Messi: $130 Million

LeBron James might be the biggest sports star in America, but his 2022 income is nearly $10 million less than Lionel Messi's. 

Messi makes an incredible $75 million from his deal with Paris Saint-Germain while he has a multitude of endorsement deals — including Adidas, Socios, Budweiser and PepsiCo. 

At 34, he's also younger than the two other $100-million earners. 

Photo: Getty Images