Forbes recently released their list of the highest paid athletes in 2022. This yearly list shows the highest paid professional athletes in a particular year, based on the value of deals they signed and how much money they made in a given year.
This list is published on April 1st every year and it is updated after deducting taxes from contracts. If a player reaches a new contract or an endorsement deal that guarantees them millions, then their salary will be revised accordingly.
Top 10 Highest Paid Athletes in 2022
In general, the top end of sports salaries increases yearly as more lucrative contracts are signed and as endorsement deals increase in value. The world’s richest athlete Messi has the most endorsements among players listed below.
Lionel Messi ($130 million)
The top-earning soccer player in 2022 is Lionel Messi with an estimated annual income of $130 million. Messi is currently the most valuable player in the world and the best soccer player in the world by a wide margin. Because he is also a highly marketable figure, he likely has the highest endorsement value of any athlete in the world.
Messi is currently the captain of Barcelona, where he is the face of the club both on and off the pitch. He is also the main star of Argentina’s national team, where he is the all-time leading goalscorer. In 2018, Messi signed a deal with Nike that is the richest endorsement deal in sports history, worth $1 billion over 15 years.
LeBron James ($121.2 million)
LeBron James is the second highest paid athlete in 2022 with an estimated annual income of $121.2 million. The NBA superstar is currently the most marketable athlete in the world. James has a long line of endorsement deals, including deals with Nike, Coca-Cola, Samsung, and Hublot. Like many athletes on the list, the bulk of James’s earnings come from his lucrative Nike contract. In 2018, he signed a lifetime contract with the company, which will likely be renewed in 2022.
Cristiano Ronaldo ($115 million)
Cristiano Ronaldo is currently the third-highest paid athlete with an estimated annual income of $115 million. Ronaldo’s 2018 salary from Real Madrid was approximately $105 million, so he likely made an additional $10 million from endorsements. Since he is a global superstar, Ronaldo’s endorsements include products sold all over the world. His most valuable endorsement deal is with Nike, worth $265 million over 10 years.
Neymar ($95 million)
The most valuable current soccer player is Neymar with an estimated annual income of $95 million. The former Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain star has been one of the most visible athletes in the world since contract negotiations with PSG broke down in 2017. As a result, he signed a five-year contract with Nike that is worth $287 million. He has also signed a number of other endorsement deals with companies such as Gillete and Beats.
Stephen Curry ($92.8 million)
Stephen Curry is currently the fifth most valuable retired athlete with an estimated annual income of $92.8 million. The former MVP of the NBA had a long and lucrative career that was cut short by injury. He was the most valuable player in the NBA in 2015 and 2017 and he holds several records, most notably the single-game three-point record of 12. During his career, Curry signed a number of endorsement deals, including with Under Armour, Nike, and Kia.
Kevin Durant ($92.1 million)
Kevin Durant is currently the sixth-highest paid retired athlete with an estimated annual income of $92.1 million. The former MVP of the NBA had a long and lucrative career that was cut short by injury. He was the most valuable player in the NBA in 2015 and 2017 and he holds several records, most notably the single-game three-point record of 12. Durant signed a series of endorsement deals in his career, most notably with Nike and Under Armour.
Roger Federer ($90.7 million)
Roger Federer is the seveth most valuable retired athlete with an estimated annual income of $90.7 million. The former Swiss tennis champion retired in 2016 and had a long and profitable career that ended when he was 35 years old. He had an exceptionally strong showing at the age of 35, winning the Australian Open and Wimbledon, as well as the US Open. Federer is one of the most popular athletes in the world and his endorsement deals include Nike and Wilson. Federer is also a part owner of the Swiss Football League team, FC Basel.
Canelo Alvarez, Boxing ($90 million)
The most valuable current boxer is Canelo Alvarez with an estimated annual income of $90 million. The Mexican boxer signed a 10-fight deal with DAZN in 2018, which will likely be worth $10 million annually. He also has a series of endorsement deals with manufacturers like Gatorade and GSK, as well as with consumer products like DirecTV. In addition to his endorsement contracts, Alvarez also has a share of the revenue generated by the streaming service DAZN.
At 43, Tom Brady accomplished what few players in history have been able to do, leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the Super Bowl in 2019, despite retiring only six weeks after the off-season began. He seems to be having a lot of fun spending time with his family and friends. His brand, Autograph, raised $170 million in a Series B funding round last year, and Religion of Sports, a production company Brady cofounded with Hall of Fame quarterback Michael Strahan and filmmaker Gotham Chopra, debuted in January.
Brady also created a production company called 199 Productions, which produces films like 80 for Brady. When it’s finally time to hang up his cleats permanently, Brady is already lined up to be a commentator for Fox Sports. In 2017, he made more money than he did playing NFL football $375 million.
With a February birthday, Giannis Antetokounmpo is the only player in this year’s top ten still in his 20s. The Milwaukee Bucks’ two-time MVP was the league’s biggest signing in December 2020, signing a five-year, $228 million deal.
He invested in WatchBox, a timepiece resale platform, in November, he has been linked to NFTSTAR, a NFT platform, and added WhatsApp and Google Pixel 6 phones to his endorsement roster. In addition to watching the biopic Rise, which will be released on Disney+ in June, Antetokounmpo’s life story will be on the big screen soon.
According to Forbes, the highest paid athletes in 2022 will earn an estimated $4.4 billion, which is a 6% increase from 2018. Based on the data provided, these are the 10 highest paid athletes in 2022.