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The Highest Earning Sportsmen in the World Today

Updated on November 1, 2015

American NBA and NFL hold the majority of spots in the top ten highest earning sportsmen in the world

Professional golfers Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson hold the number one and number two spot as the highest earning sportsmen in the world.
Professional golfers Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson hold the number one and number two spot as the highest earning sportsmen in the world. | Source
Endorsements, salaries and bonuses make the money sportsmen earn each year. Some players make more on endorsements than actual salary.
Endorsements, salaries and bonuses make the money sportsmen earn each year. Some players make more on endorsements than actual salary. | Source

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The longer a player stays the more likely his chances are for earning bigger bucks

It is a given the more violent a sport the shorter the career. For instance, golf is not a violent game and players are able to compete into their eighties without blinking hard. The opposite end of the spectrum is football.

The violent sport of football makes for the shortest career professionally. Though, the violence typically starts in grade school via little league games and continues through high school and college. On average the Major League Baseball player is the best bet up against the big three in American, (MLB, NFL and NBA).

Although it is the most violent, it is also the most well liked. More individuals watch the SuperBowl than the presidential inauguration.

Professional sportsmen are some of the richest men in the world

No matter where a person lives in the world there is a culture touched by some form of sports. Whether the address is in North America or South America, on the content of Asia or even the wilderness of Africa it is there. Sporting events have been a way for anyone from any class of citizenship to level the playing field regardless of financial or educational background.More importantly it is a means for countless poorer individuals to become extremely wealthy.
Professional athletes have higher annual incomes than CEOs and in some cases presidents of countries.

Some sports do better than others

There are favorites of fans across the globe regardless of what language is spoken or country of origin. There are also mass appeals for certain kinds based on where an individuals lives. In a few short words there is the popularity of soccer in South America and basketball in Europe. Rugby is hailed as the ultimate skill in England and skiing in Oslo is prime time. This makes a world of difference in what professional earnings are based on what type or kind of athlete an individual happens to be. There are some who earn more than others. A variety of factors make the difference in earning opportunities.

Not all professional sports are viable in every country. This comes from personal tastes in cultures and other factors of influence. For instance, world class athletes that box, play golf football or even rugby are able to perform for a few short minutes or an hour and bring in millions in revenue. Income includes not only a paying salary, but bonuses for things such as play off status and even revenues via separate contracts with advertisers.Arm wrestling and mud wrestling are also ways to make a living in the field, but only pay a fraction of what these other sportsmen earn.

Men and women both earn in the millions for talent

Men as well as women are millionaires thanks to the arena of sport participation. Individuals have moved across the globe to collect the paychecks offered for participation in one game or match. The one thing about playing against the best in the world is there is always someone better eventually and no one stays on top forever. Most events are still separated by sex. There are not a lot of categories where men and women are on a level playing field. One of the most up and promising is professional sports car racing. Others are expected to follow suit shortly. At this time when men and women are playing the same sport in different leagues, women earn less.

Whether the business is a team or individual competition varies earnings widely. Though, some obviously make more than their the neighbors. Discover who makes the most when it comes to the world of sporting competition.

The American NFL and NBA can tout the majority of the highest earning sportsmen in the world today if we look at the top names on the list. When discussing the top 10 highest earning sportsmen in the world today it is fair to include niceties like salaries, endorsements , bonuses and even fees earned for appearances.

1) Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods is a name synonymous with the game of golf. Tiger is famous for bringing golf from the elite status to make it feasible as a professional sport for anyone and everyone around the world today.Regardless of color, nationality, size , shape or background, everyone is capable of being a champion.

Tiger Woods reigned on top for the eight straight years in a row. There was not a fall from grace, but his game is certainly off. He is not out of the race, but struggling from where he was when he was on top. Athletes playing at this level need great mental and physical aptitude at the top of the game. Professional tragedy has affected the mental state of the great golfer. His father was his mentor, coach and biggest fan and passed away. This seemed like the start of a downward slide. Shortly afterward an affair and public divorce put an even uglier face on his personal mishaps. His wife was from Belgium and chose to take their children home with her to her native country to raise.

Losing some is not losing it all. This is an intelligent man who did learn a thing or two getting to the top of the pile. Although Tiger Woods earnings have shrunk with the negative publicity surrounding his personal life and he has lost some of his endorsements, he has continued to earn an impressive salary and rank as the top highest earning sportsman in the world today.

A majority of the income Tiger Woods sees as one of the highest earning sportsmen in the world today is through endorsements for retailers products. His endorsements include Nike Golf, EA Sports for golf computer games, Rolex watches, NetJets for private jets, Kowa a Japanese company for pharmacy products and Upper Deck. These are not necessarily the average advertisers most professional athletes see in a personal portfolio, it is an intelligent source of diversifying them.

The golf legend saw a salary his last year of ranking number one golfer in the world of $2.3 million, endorsements of $60 million for a total income of approximately $62.3 million. Even with his household name in decline, he is still ranked first overall.

2) Phil Mickelson

Golfers are ranking number one and number two for the top highest earning sportsmen in the world today. One of the biggest appeals and benefits of being in the niche is the longevity a player has in the field. Legendary golfer Bob Hope was well into his eighties before putting the clubs down. This means more more money over the long run than most other industries.

Phil Mickelson is earning his monies this year with Rolex, Barclays, ExxonMobil and several other retailers in addition to his golfing exploits. Phil Mickelson is ranked as one of the most reliable endorsers by retailers which makes him highly desirable as a spokesperson for products and services.

His salary from golf is $4.1 million. He has finally surpassed Tiger Woods on this front alone. However, his endorsements are only $57 million. The total salary he expects over the next year is $61.1 million. This dollar figure puts him on the heels of Tiger Woods for the first time in eight years for the number one spot of the highest earning sportsmen in the world today.

3) LeBron James

LeBron James or King James as he is known by his fans is earning a comfortable salary playing in the NBA. Even trading from one team to another has not negatively affected wages for the superstar. LeBron James is grossing $14.5 million from his NBA salary and endorsement monies are $30 million which total $44.5 million this year.

Living in a Coconut Grove Mansion in Miami worth an estimated $9 million still can’t buy him an NBA title. We can’t feel too sorry for King James with an income this year of $44.5 million. The Miami Heat NBA player achieved nearly every accolade tied to basketball, but an NBA championship. He has moved from one city to another in the quest. Between Miami and the loyal fans from Cleveland, he will persevere.

Two NBA teams means two jerseys to earn monies from. It is not all bad when it comes to basic salary earnings as well. A rumor admitted with salary caps some of the trades come at a price which reduces his base salary. Though, this income is incredibly earn back. Bonuses for taking the lead in a division, extra points made, free throws not missed or even a guaranteed number of triple/double games all contribute to the pot.

A rank of three in earnings this year is not enough to put a frown on his face. He is still smiling all the way to the bank. With his youth and talent there are countless years to come which make more money a sure bet for King James' future in the NBA.

4) Peyton Manning

The NFL has two brothers who have seen the glory which comes with playing football. Peyton Manning and Eli Manning both are extraordinary quarterbacks in the NFL today.. This is where the question of genetics or simply hard work and great opportunities have a larger influence on making money in the industry

Peyton Manning played the position of quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts. After getting to the Superbowl with his brother as an adversary, he changed teams. Currently Peyton is leading the Denver Broncos to the top of their division.

Manning was number nine last year and has moved up to number four with his earnings for this year. Peyton Manning is netting an estimated $23 million in salary and $15 million in endorsements for a total of $38 million. Endorsements are expected to double with means another move up the ladder is a very good possibility.

The four time MVP for the NFL is the franchise player for the Colts and was paid another $50 million in salary over the last two seasons with them. With a sign on bonus for the Broncos and additional pay for getting to the playoffs and other accomplishments, he is cashing all sorts of checks on his way to the bank. Eli has not done bad at all either through his investment with the New York Giants.

5) Alex Rodriquez

The MLB player is number five because of a structure of fantastic salary and earnings ARod has in place. Alex Rodriguez is clearing $32 million in salary from his professional baseball team this year. With a $6 million dollar bonus in place if he beats Willie Mays all-time home run record.Going to the playoffs, bases stolen, less errors and even a higher RBI are all factored into the extras for making more money from season to season.

ARod comes in at number five for highest earning sportsmen in the world. He has endorsement deals worth only $4 million with a total salary this year of $36 million.

6) Kobe Bryant

NBA player Kobe Bryant is number six for the highest earning sportsman in the world. Kobe Bryant has a salary of $24.8 million with the Los Angeles Lakers. His extras are on the small end of things. He has clocked only $10 million in endorsements. Netting $38.6 million this year Kobe Bryant’s number 24 jerseys are not selling as well as they have in the past. Some bad publicity in the news drove down the advertisers attraction to him as an asset.

LeBron James or King James as his fans call him has number 6 with the Miami Heat and is outselling Kobe Bryant’s number 24. This is surprising considering LeBron had tons of fans "quit" on him because he left his home state of Cleveland in pursuit of a NBA championship with Miami.

7) Kevin Garnett

KG is talking about retirement so this is possibly his final year on the listing of the highest earning sportsmen in the world. The Boston Celtics NBA player is scheduled to put nearly $21 million in the bank next year which is the final year of his contract. This year KG or Kevin Garnett will earn $18 million in salary and winnings while endorsements bring him $14 million.

KG would have earned more if the NBA strike had not interrupted his road to the NBA finals. His total career has earned this basketball center legend over $300 million dollars. This is the franchise player responsible for the salary caps we now see in the professional world of sports. Great investments have put him in a remarkable position to play without money being the largest appeal. Of course there is a difference between earning $6 million versus $60, but it is not the only factor in deciding where and how to play.

8) Matt Ryan

This NFL quarterback makes an enormous amount of money in the league. Base earnings paid were $32.2 million in salary and winnings while making $450,000 endorsements. Even without a SuperBowl trophy or ring, Ryan’s salary stems from a six year $72 million contract signed for in 2008. The NFL team the Atlanta Falcons invested the bulk of the salary cap dollars in the quarterback department. Others have chosen to spread dollars this big across an entire defense, offensive line or even special teams.

This contract will make the final payment this season. Matt has a roster bonus of $22 million dollars on top of over $10 million he earns this year alone. He admits to being fairly shy and strays away from an enormous amount of endorsements. The total income for Matt Ryan will be $32.7 million for the 2011 NFL season. He has no desire to leave the Atlanta team and they seem happy enough with him as well.

9) Tom Brady

This Superbowl MVP sees $20 million in salary and winnings with his first Superbowl winning season. Additionally, by winning the big game there are more winning endorsement deals of $10 million. Tom Brady is the quarterback for the NFL New England Patriots.

His agent was able to secure a winning contract of $72 million over the next four years, this does not include the bonuses possible with AFC or NFC championships and other bonuses. Completed passes, number of yards or even lack of interceptions are work in a positive manner for a quarterback of Brady's caliber.

He will certainly move up in the rankings next year. This new contract will move Tom Brady to the highest earning player in the NFL. He collected $10 million of a $16 million signing bonus in August of this year. He is expected to clear nearly $30 million this season alone.

10) Dwight Howard

NBA player Dwight Howard aka Superman of the NBA team Orlando Magic is earning $12 million in endorsements with salary and earnings of $16.6 million. Dwight has gross earnings this year of $28.6 million. There are rumors that Superman would like to play for the LA Lakers next year. However, that would mean a reduction in salary for Kobe Bryant as well as Dwight Howard. If Dwight Howard does move from the Magic to the Lakers it will be interesting to say the least. Some players are willing to take a salary reduction now betting in the long run there is more money to be made.

Imagine being traded to another team and seeing a play off series or more lime light television appearances. This is one vehicle to gain a tennis shoe contract or even more sales in NBA jerseys.

This is a business above all else. There are still some players who love the games they participate in, but when millions of dollars are on the line business does come first.

In conclusion

These are the top ten highest paid sportsmen in the world. The listing includes NFL, NBA, MLB and golf players. The amounts of money these professionals earn are amazing to say the least. The rankings change slightly from year to year, but for the most they stay generally the same. The highest paid sportsmen in the world tend to be from the US and make a majority of personal income from endorsement deals along with salaries and bonuses. Personal gear or team gear is also an enormous part of where money comes from for countless players.

This year America’s NBA teams had a strike that cancelled their season which will affect the NBA player’s bonus deals. Next year’s listing for the highest paid sportsmen in the world will certainly change and bring a great amount of interest.

Sources: salaries, winnings and bonus amounts are provided by players associations, tour records, news reports as well as agents providing information. Endorsement estimates have been received from Burns Entertainment & Sports Marketing, agent information in addition to other sports marketing execs.

Discover more about playing B Ball overseas

Most players continue to earn as coaches and other careers in the sport where they triumphed

The Olympic games have become a jumping off spot for countless athletes in a variations of sports. This is a great place to find new and exciting friends and connections in the field as well as see what the world has to financially offer an athletes.

Other countries outside of the US have competitive wages in countless sports. For instance, women are able to earn salaries equivalent to men playing pro basketball in Europe. Lots of women even discover with such stiff competition in America for top basketball spots, there is more to be had playing in Europe.

The players rivalry is very similar and teammates are typically familiar from college and other interactions within the sport. Struggling for such a small amount of elite spots is less when playing with overseas teams. Even starting a career in Italy and ending it in Washington DC means not only seeing the world, but meeting terrific people within the sport.

© 2011 smcopywrite


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    • smcopywrite profile image

      smcopywrite 6 years ago from all over the web

      sweetie1-i think the point is they are using natural talent to make this extraordinary amount of money. many are doing something they love to earn this money. of course there are businessmen that make more money. this is the reason for the NBA strike. the owners are raking in billions of dollars and they don't do the work.

      i will need to write a hub on the highest paid movie or television stars one of these days.

      thanks for the comment

    • sweetie1 profile image

      sweetie1 6 years ago from India

      Hi smcopywrite, Though you have told about ones which are really very highly paid but i doubt if they match anywhere close to movie stars or rich businessmen. To be frank they all work for rich businessmen so they can not even come close to them in money . Tiger woods may be raking in money with tournament wins and contracts but he is not even worth a quarter a million and if you start counting movie stars or businessmen worth more than list would be endless.

    • smcopywrite profile image

      smcopywrite 6 years ago from all over the web

      thank you for so much for your wonderful comments. the amount of money these sportsmen earn is astounding.

    • profile image

      dhundley93 6 years ago

      This shows that endorsements allow the top earning sportsmen to be where they are. Public image is important in addition to athletic accomplishments in obtaining these deals.

    • pmccray profile image

      pmccray 6 years ago from Utah

      Very thoroughly research and well written hub. Thank you for sharing. Voted up, marked interesting.

    • profile image

      Derdriu 6 years ago

      smcopywrite: What a compact, informative, and precise summary of what it takes to be in the top-earning slots as a modern-day sportsman! It is interesting how the more things change, the more they remain the same: basketball, football and golf overachievers continue to dominate the highest money-earning niches. Thank you for explaining your sources and for backing up each ranking with the total income figures and generators.