It is a universally accepted fact that over-the-top riches are reserved for the team owners but the players themselves are suffering, from a financial standpoint. Not by a long shot.
According to Forbes, over the last year, the 100 highest-earning athletes pulled in a combined $3.15 billion — that’s billion with a “B.” To determine this, the good folks at Forbes used a fairly detailed methodology; however, the simpler explanation is as follows:
“Our earnings figures include salaries, prize money and bonuses paid out between June 1, 2015, and June 1, 2016. Endorsement incomes are an estimate of sponsorships, appearance fees and licensing incomes for the same 12 month period based on conversations with dozens of industry insiders. We do not deduct for taxes or agents’ fees and we don’t include investment income.”
10. Kobe Bryant
Total Earnings: $50 million
In case you slept on it, 2016 marked the close of Kobe Bryant’s NBA career — and while the Lakers may have seen something of an ignoble finish, Kobe’s bank account was hardly worse for the wear: the Lakers’ icon banked a cool $25 million to close out the season, making him the highest paid player in the league over last year, at least in terms of the size of his deal. The rest of it comes from endorsements. Kobe’s been signed to Nike ever since his bailing on his deal with Adidas, inked when Kobe was fresh out of high school, after Bryant reportedly disliked the Kobe Two, and it’s safe to say that his other deals, with companies like Coca-Cola, haven’t left him hurting for cash.
9. Jordan Spieth
Total Earnings: $52.8 Million
despite a disappointing finish at the 2016 Masters — where Spieth, the defending champion, choked about as hard as you could imagine on the last day of the tournament — he’s still one of two professional golfers to make this list.
8. Phil Mickelson
Total Earnings: $52.9 million
7. Cam Newton
Total Earnings: $53.1 million
Cam Newton may be the most magnetic personality in the NFL today — whether you’re attracted or repelled, by him, there’s no denying that you’re pulled one way or the other — and with that sort of star quality comes big money (and his very own laptop, we presume). The best player in Super Bowl 50, Newton’s athletic ability has earned him a $100 million dollar from the league ($60 of that is guaranteed), and as one of the most marketable players in the league, he can more or less take the pick of the litter when it comes to endorsements.
6. Novak Djokovic
Total Earnings: $55.8 million
After Novak Djokovic claimed victory over Andy Murray in the 2016 French Open, he became the first player to hold all four Major titles since Rod Laver. In fact, while Djokovic now has something that, say, Roger Federer does not, he’s still only pulling in $34 million in endorsements. If he can challenge for the sport’s first Grand Slam in nearly 50 years, that will almost certainly change.
5. Kevin Durant
Total Earnings: $56.2 million
In the last year, Kevin Durant took home $20.2 million in salary and bonuses, earned another $36 million in endorsement deals, and found himself at No. 5 on the list of the world’s highest-paid athletes with $56.2 million in total earnings.
4. Roger Federer
Total Earnings: $67.8 million
Roger Federer may not be the same tennis player who competes for Grand Slams on a regular basis, but that hasn’t stopped him from holding serve as the sport’s top-earning player. Thanks to his sponsorship deals with companies like Rolex, Nike, and Mercedes-Benz, Federer managed to take home an insane $60 million dollars in endorsement money over the last 12 months.
When you combine that with the $7.8 million he earned in prize money, you’re looking at a whopping $67.8 million in total earnings for the 17-time Grand Slam champion.
3. LeBron James
Total Earnings: $77.2 million
Although LeBron James is on the brink of another Finals loss, he can take solace in knowing that his bank account is far from suffering the same sort of defeat — and likely never will. Aside from making $23.2 million in salary money, LBJ reaffirmed his unrivaled marketability courtesy of $54 million from endorsements.
On top of that, thanks to the unprecedented lifetime deal he signed with Nike, the $77.2 million in total earnings that James made over the past year is going to look like spare change compared to his future earnings. As always, it’s good to be the King.
2. Lionel Messi
Total Earnings: $81.4 million
Not only has Lionel Messi’s creativity and magic on the pitch made him one of the top-two football players in the world, it’s always made him one of the top-two highest-earning athletes on the planet. And that’s a fact.
Despite making $28 million from endorsements over the past year, the majority of Messi’s $81.4 million in total earnings came from his salary and bonuses — $53.4 million to be exact.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo
Total Earnings: $88 million
Like Real Madrid after winning the Champions League, Cristiano Ronaldo is on top of the world (of highest-paid athletes). Thanks to his sponsorship deals with brands such Nike, Tag Heuer, and Herbalife, as well as his own line of products, Ronaldo brought home $32 million in endorsement money over the last 12 months.
Of course, this figure pales in comparison to the $56 million he earned in salary and bonuses. Either way, the dollar signs have spoken, and with $88 million in total earnings, Ronaldo secured his place as the highest-earning athlete in 2016.