It’s no secret that athletes are some of the highest paid people in the world, but do you really know how much they make? You may be surprised to learn that some of the athletes we’re about to look at have made as much as $100 million; and they’re money just keeps on coming. Of course, there are thousands of athletes that make millions of dollars on a regular basis, but we’re going to cover the top 10 highest paid athletes of 2014. Prepare to be jealous!
This Portuguese star is the highest paid soccer player in history, with total earnings of $80 in 2014. He has been voted as the most valuable sports player in the world for a second time, after scoring 69 goals in just 59 games. He currently plays for his home team Portugal, as well as the daunting Real Madrid. Both teams are known to be difficult to beat, both in national and international competitions. His salary of $52 million comes from both Real Madrid and Portugal, with the rest of his $28 million coming from sponsorship deals. He has won the FIFA award for being the best soccer player in the world, along with the European Golden Shoe and several other coveted titles.
At just 29 years old he still has a fair few years of football in him, too; much to the disappointment of his opponents. After growing up in poverty and being expelled from school, we can’t help but find Cristiano Ronaldo a bit of an inspiration for all young soccer players.
Despite being the World Number One in tennis, Rafael Nadal hasn’t got much further up the list from last year. He is also still behind Roger Federer, with a total of $44.5 million in earnings. $14.5 million of that comes from his winnings, after winning two Grand Slams last year. That’s $10 million more than Federer won! His endorsements are what let him down slightly, however, with his biggest brand being Nike. His Nike endorsement also depends on his year-end rank, which means some years could be better than others; luckily this year went well for him. However, he’s not exactly doing badly with his total earnings this year (we sure wouldn’t complain). Nadal also has a keen interest in football, supporting Real Madrid and the Spanish national team, and also plays poker in his spare time. This year he played Vanessa Selbst, the number one female poker player, in a private game in Monaco. Nadal is unmarried and has no children, keeping much of his private life as it should be; private.
This year, the world famous boxer has made a grand total of $200 million in revenue from his box office fights; netting him a rather cool salary (after taxes and fees) of $105 million. As a currently undefeated professional boxer, with ten world titles and several other impressive accolades to his name, it’s no wonder this guy gets paid so much. Floyd Mayweather was born into a family of boxers, as his father and uncles were also champions in their own right, so it made sense that he carried on this family tradition. His fight against Canelo Alvarez set the record for the highest pay-per-view fight in history, at $150 million! He has also had plenty of sponsorship deals and been on TV shows such as Dancing With The Stars. His whopping salary this year should set him up for life, if he decided to hang his boxing gloves up. Mind you, there are obviously huge risks involved in being a boxer, so we see this money as justified (almost).
Even if you don’t follow basketball, chances are you’ve heard of this American star; LeBron James. Although he may not have the highest salary in our list, he certainly has some of the most impressive sponsorship deals totaling at $53 million. You may have seen him advertising Nike, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Upper Deck and dozens more in this year alone. His salary of $19.3 million takes his total salary for 2014 to $72.3 million. Wow! One of his biggest achievements this year was when his signature Nike shoes became one of the biggest selling among active players, netting Nike a cool $300 million (which of course he took a chunk of). He also made millions when he sold his stake in Beats Audio, of which the whole company was sold for $3 billion. LeBron James seems to have it all; an incredible sports career, plenty of sponsorship deals and a really good business head on him. He’s also married to his high school sweetheart and they have two sons together. Aww!
People say that soccer players are overpaid, which may prove to be right as we’re already on our second one in this list! Lionel Messi is thought to be one of the best football players in the world, and his salary certainly shows it. His total earnings for 2014 tot up to $64.7 million, which is $41.7 million in salary payments and $23 million from endorsements. The star is the captain of his home team, Argentina, as well as playing for one of the biggest soccer clubs in the world; Barcelona. After extending his contract with Barcelona until 2018, he is now set to earn over $50 million a year before taxes. He also has some rather impressive sponsorship deals, including his own Adidas signature shoe, and an advertising campaign with Kobe Bryant for Turkish Airlines. Not only does Messi make a huge amount of cash, but he also donates a lot too. He has his own charity called the Leo Messi Foundation, which helps provide healthcare and education for vulnerable children.
Here’s another basketball player who has made the majority of his earnings from endorsements, although he also has the highest salary of anyone in the NBA. In fact, his $30.5 million salary is nearly $8 million more than any other basketball player in the world. We wonder if that makes his team mates jealous? He has also recently signed another two year contract for $48.5 million which will ensure he stays the highest paid player in NBA. He has endorsements with companies such as Turkish Airlines (with Lionel Messi), Lenovo and Hublot. He also has deals with Panini and Nike who sell his merchandise, which brings his endorsement earnings up to $31 million. Kobe Bryant has had his fair share of ups and downs, despite all of his cash. His rocky relationship with his wife has been on and off for the last 3 years. It’s currently back on, as announced by the pair on social media. Shows that money can’t buy love, although it can pay for big divorce settlements.
It wasn’t that long ago when Tiger Woods was topping this chart, year on year. However, recent setbacks have cost him dearly. He now places at number 6 with total earnings of $61.2 million (still not bad). Only $6.2 million of that comes from his salary and winnings, with the other $55 million coming from endorsements. His sponsorship money used to be a lot more, before the infidelity scandal in 2009 and 2010. EA Sports also announced that they would be stopping the Tiger Woods video game, after 14 versions of the long running series. That has got to have created a bit of a setback in Tiger Woods’ endorsement money, considering the video game generated around $800 million in sales. Luckily, Woods still has Nike to fall back on, as they recently renewed his deal. The golf division of this big name brand made around $791 million in sales in 2013; so Tiger Woods obviously enjoys that partnership. Could he claw his way back up to the top? It’s unlikely now.
Here’s another athlete making a ton of money from endorsements, $52 million to be exact. Add that to his rather modest salary of $4.2 million for a total in the region of $56.2 million this year. Roger Federer, a highly praised tennis player, has the most Grand Slam wins on record at a whopping 17 in total, which means he also has the highest prize money since he started his professional career (around $81 million). Many sports lovers and pundits see Roger Federer as the greatest tennis player of all time, which you could certainly believe with all of his accolades. He has plenty of long term deals with big companies, as endorsements, which means this guy is set to make a fortune for a long time to come. Some of the biggest brands he endorses include Rolex, Credit Suisse and Nike, to name a few. He is also married to female tennis player Mirka Vavrinec and the couple have two sets of twins; tennis doubles champions in the making, maybe?
Unless you’re a big golfing fan then you’ve probably never heard of Phil Mickelson, despite him winning a total of 42 PGA Tour Events. He also won his first British Open last year, which has secured him some rather large winnings and plenty of sponsorship deals. His total earnings for 2014 are $53.2 million, with $5.2 million from playing golf and $48 million in endorsements. You’re likely to see more of this guy around, after he recently signed deals with Rolex, Barclay’s, Exxon Mobil and Callaway, plus many more. He has the second highest career earnings of any golfer, at a rather dizzying $74 million! His nickname ‘Lefty’ comes from his bizarre way of playing golf with his left hand, despite him usually being right handed. This athlete is one of the only ones on our list that seems to keep himself to himself, not regularly being seen in the limelight or making the headlines. If he did, he might end up working his way up our list for next year.
Last on our list, and the only NFL player in the top 10, is Atlanta Falcons’ player Matt Ryan. He has one of the highest salaries of any NFL player, after recently signing a huge 5 year contract deal. Last year he managed to earn $43.8 million, with $42 million of that coming just from his salary and signing bonus. He is one of the few quarterbacks to have throw a touchdown on first NFL pass, and is the second rookie quarterback to have thrown more than 3,000 yards. He has a ton of awards, accolades and honors to his name, which is obviously why the Falcons can justify paying him so much. Not only does Matt love American Football, but he also has a keen interest in golf. He’s played in tournaments such as Augusta National and American Century Celebrity Golf Championship. He is also part of the Falcons’ online reading program, which allows kids to read their favorite stories alongside their favorite Falcons players. Rich and caring, aww!