The world of sports is a fascinating and incredibly lucrative industry. Millions of people around the globe tune in to watch their favorite athletes compete, while sponsors and endorsements pour money into the pockets of these talented individuals. But who are the top-earning athletes? Who makes the most money out of all professional sports stars?

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the highest-paid sportspeople in history. From basketball superstars to golfing greats, we will explore just how much these elite athletes have earned over their careers. We’ll also examine what it takes for an athlete to become one of the wealthiest players in any given sport – from hard work and dedication to good financial decisions outside of their chosen field. So let’s get started!

1. Cristiano Ronaldo  ($136 million)

Cristiano Ronaldo has achieved incredible financial success due to his massive fan base and is now the top-earning athlete for 2021 with an estimated $136 million. His new home in Saudi Arabia also gave him additional marketing opportunities which have pushed his annual salary up to a record high of $75 million. With 850 million combined followers on social media platforms, brands such as Binance cannot resist investing in Ronaldo’s potential – pushing off-field earnings from sponsorships alone over the last 12 months at around 90 million dollars!

2. Lionel Messi ($130 million)

Despite much speculation about his future, Lionel Messi remains one of the highest-earning athletes with a reported $130 million in earnings. His impressive list of endorsements includes Adidas, Budweiser, and PepsiCo as well as Socios – a blockchain-based fan platform that pays him an estimated $20 million annually. In December 2020 he led Argentina to World Cup victory and also launched ‘Play Time’ investment firm in October of that same year – guaranteeing his bank account will remain safe no matter where he chooses to go next!

3. Kylian Mbappé ($120 million)

Last year, Kylian Mbappé became the youngest and only player under 30 to make it into the top 10 earners list with a whopping $120 million salary. His impressive performance in leading France to the World Cup finals earned him runner-up for the Best FIFA Men’s Player Award behind his Paris Saint Germain teammate Lionel Messi. He recently joined Sorare as the first ambassador of their cryptocurrency-based fantasy game; soon after, he also forced French Football Federation to review its contract on players’ rights over image endorsements by refusing photo shoots with the national squad.

4. LeBron James ($119.5 million)

LeBron James is a phenomenal athlete and entrepreneur, having become the first active sportsperson to be certified as a billionaire by Forbes. Beyond his impressive endorsement portfolio, he has invested in various companies such as Ladder Sports Nutrition Company, SpringHill Entertainment Production Company; Fenway Sports Group – the owner of Boston Red Sox Liverpool FC & Pittsburgh Penguins; Lobos 1707 tequila; Canyon Bicycles climate-conscious dairy company Neutral Foods & Mitchell& Ness Apparel Brand. He also expressed interest in owning an NBA expansion team in Las Vegas!

5. Canelo Álvarez ($110 million)

Canelo Álvarez has earned an impressive $110 million over the last 12 months thanks to his blockbuster fights against Dmitry Bivol and Gennadiy Golovkin. To add to this, he is also a savvy entrepreneur with stakes in sports drink company Yaoca, fitness app I Can as well as gas station chain Canelo Energy. He even launched VMC – a canned cocktail brand – in September 2019! Additionally, Alvarez boasts traditional endorsements from Hennessy and Michelob Ultra while having signed up Excel Sports Management for help building out his marketing deals further. Ultimately, it seems that there’s no stopping him anytime soon!

6. Dustin Johnson ($107 million)

Dustin Johnson made a bold move last May when he left the Royal Bank of Canada to join LIV Golf. His decision paid off as his 2021 earnings skyrocketed, making him the highest-paid athlete on the list and putting $35.6 million in prize money into his pocket – including an impressive $18 million bonus for winning a season-long individual championship. Additionally, with 4Aces GC (LIV team) under his belt which has now replaced Adidas’ logo on recent tournaments shirts; plus guaranteed cash from no-cut format events that brought in another additional $3.3M across five competitions this year!

7. Phil Mickelson ($106 million)

Phil Mickelson, who earned over $1 billion in pre-tax earnings last year, is staying busy off the course. He co-founded For Wellness and recently bought a large plot of land outside Phoenix. At The Masters golf tournament last month he tied for second place with his LIV Golf mate Brooks Koepka and took home an impressive check of $1.6 million!

8. Stephen Curry ($100.4 million)

Stephen Curry is celebrating his first year with earnings of over $100 million, making him the NBA’s highest-paid player. Despite recently losing a major sponsor due to FTX collapsing and being dragged into their legal issues, he has made up for it through new partnerships such as Under Armour and Chase Bank. Additionally, he will be releasing an Apple TV+ documentary about himself in July 2021 along with launching a graphic novel series next year; not to mention investing in VR platform Golf+, Tiger Woods’ TMRW Sports tech-infused golf league startup – proving that despite any setbacks faced by this four-time champion basketball star – there are no limits when it comes to success!

9. Roger Federer ($95.1 million)

Roger Federer, one of the greatest tennis players in history and a co-founder of the Laver Cup 2017, recently announced his retirement. To launch his second act he has secured several lucrative partnerships such as eyewear maker Oliver Peoples and Swiss shoe company On which will help ensure that even after leaving competitive tennis behind he remains at the top financially with an impressive net worth estimated at 95.1 million dollars!

10. Kevin Durant ($89.1 million)

Kevin Durant has made his mark both on and off the court in recent months. Through 35V, his investment firm, he’s invested in a variety of sports-related ventures such as Premier Lacrosse League, Happy Viking nutrition brand, Women’s Sports Network Athletes Unlimited, and more. He also owns the Boardroom media empire and recently received an upgraded lifetime contract from Nike – only Michael Jordan & LeBron James have achieved this feat!


Professional athletes are making more money than ever before. From lucrative partnerships to investing in sports-related ventures, these top ten highest-earning athletes demonstrate the potential for success when it comes to both on and off-court activities. Whether they have retired or still competing, their ability to leverage their fame into successful business endeavors shows that there’s no limit to what can be achieved with hard work and dedication. With so many opportunities available, now may be a great time for aspiring entrepreneurs looking to get involved in the sports industry!