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The Highest Paid Athletes of 2022

Giannis Antetokounmpo playing for Milwaukee Bucks highest payed athlete 2022
The Highest Paid Athletes of 2022. Credit: Keith Allison / wikimedia commons CC BY 2.0

The year 2022 has been fantastic for sports. The greatest stars in the world have returned to entertain their fans while they themselves are also well-compensated. The list of the highest-paid athletes of 2022 by Forbes might contain names that have been familiar for decades but there are also some intriguing names that may come as a surprise.

Unlike in the past, athletes nowadays are not bound to obligations restricting movements. They are permitted to pursue personal aspirations in addition to their professional career. Athletes sign endorsements and sponsorships for businesses nowadays, with some even launching their own brands. Check out the highest-paid athletes of 2022 below.

1. Lionel Messi

Highest paid athletes of 2022 Lionel Messi
Credit: Nathan Rupert / Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

To put Lionel Messi‘s $130 million salary in perspective, he makes $75 million on the field and $55 million in sponsorships and other types of revenue. He has worked with several different brands, including PepsiCo, Budweiser, and Adidas. Leo is the face of Hard Rock International, and he also represents the brand in public.

2. LeBron James

LeBron James highest payed athlete 2022
Credit: Erik Drost / Flickr CC BY 2.0

In 2022, four-time NBA champion and Finals MVP LeBron James earned $41.2 million with the Los Angeles Lakers and had many lucrative endorsement deals, making him the highest-paid NBA player.

James and the American rapper Drake purchased a share in the A.C. Milan football club in Italy in August of 2022. While announcing his endorsement arrangement with in October, LeBron James revealed that he had sold a minority position in his production company, SpringHill.

3. Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo highest payed athlete 2022
Credit: Portugal Football Association

Cristiano Ronaldo, the winner of five Ballon d’Or awards, had a $60 million deal with Manchester United before the Premier League club canceled it during the FIFA World Cup 2022 break.

The 37-year-old Ronaldo has more social media followers than any other athlete, and he earns a fortune from his online profiles. The Portugal captain has signed lucrative endorsement deals with companies such as Nike, Herbalife, and Clear shampoo.

4. Neymar da Silva Santos Junior

Neymar highest payed athlete 2022
Credit: Public Domain

In 2022, Brazilian superstar Neymar Jr. reportedly received $70 million from Paris Saint-Germain (PSG). The 30-year-old Brazil forward has lucrative sponsorship deals with Puma and Red Bull, among others, worth a total of $25 million in addition to his on-field earnings.

A Netflix documentary, Neymar: The Perfect Chaos, on the PSG player’s life was released in January 2022.

5. Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry highest payed athlete 2022
Credit: Vy Vu /Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

With a reported yearly contract of $48 million from the Golden State Warriors, four-time NBA champion Stephen Curry has been the highest-paid player in the league since 2022.

The Nike, Under Armour, Rakuten, and Nissan endorsement deals help the 34-year-old Curry bring in an estimated $40 million annually.

6. Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant highest payed athlete 2022
Credit: KT King / Flickr CC BY 2.0

Spotrac estimates Kevin Durant’s 2019 salary with the Brooklyn Nets to have been about $42.9 million, and he continues to make this much currently, too. Durant is a two-time NBA champion. In October 2022, he joined fellow professional players LeBron James, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees as an investor in a professional pickleball club.

Durant has the second-highest yearly footwear deal in value among active players with Nike at about $28 million. LeBron James is the only one to rake in more than that.

7. Roger Federer

Roger Federer highest payed athlete 2022
Credit: Shinya Suzuki CC BY 2.0

The 20-time Grand Slam champion, Roger Federer, announced his retirement in September of 2022 following the Laver Cup. Federer had been out since 2021 due to a knee ailment.

The Swiss superstar may have only played once in 2022, but with endorsement deals with major brands like Uniqlo and Rolex, he still earned more than any other tennis player.

8. Canelo Alvarez

Canelo Alvarez highest payed athlete 2022
Credit: The Daily Sports Herald / Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Canelo Alvarez, a Mexican boxer, has won world titles in four different weight classes from light middleweight to light heavyweight. Over $40 million was earned by the 32-year-old after he won two pay-per-view matches in May and November.

Alvarez is not only successful in the ring but also in the food business in Mexico, where he runs a popular taco restaurant.

9. Tom Brady

Tom Brady highest payed athlete 2022
Credit: Brook Ward / Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

After winning a record-tying seventh Super Bowl in 2021, Tom Brady called it quits on his professional American football career, which lasted all of six weeks. In 2022, at age 44, Brady earned $30 million from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The great quarterback is a co-founder of several successful businesses, including 199 Productions, the NFT platform, and Autograph. After his playing career ended in May 2022, Tom Brady reportedly signed a ten-year, $375 million contract with Fox Sports to commentate on NFL games.

10. Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis Antetokounmpo highest payed athlete 2022
Credit: Giannis Antetokounmpo / Instagram

Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks is the only player in his twenties to crack this year’s top ten list of highest-paid athletes. In December 2020, the two-time MVP signed a five-year, $228 million contract with the Bucks, which at the time was the best-paying contract in NBA history.

As a result of Giannis’ efforts, his club won the NBA championship for the second time in 2021. Major endorsement deals with companies such as JBL, Tissot, 2K Sports, Hulu, and Nike help the Greek Freak bring in another estimated $40 million annually.

The remaining highest-paid athletes in a list of the top 50

11. Russell Westbrook

12. James Harden

13. Matthew Stafford

14. Aaron Rodgers

14. Tiger Woods

16. Josh Allen

17. Lewis Hamilton

18. Tyson Fury

19. Naomi Osaka

20. Damian Lillard

21. Deshaun Watson

22. Klay Thompson

23. Mike Trout

24. Patrick Mahomes II

25. Kirk Cousins

26. Jimmy Butler

26. Max Verstappen

28. Paul George

29. Anthony Davis

29. Kawhi Leonard

31. Phil Mickelson

31. Serena Williams

33. Mohamed Salah

34. John Wall

35. Kylian Mbappe

36. Conor McGregor

37. Rory McIlroy

38. Marshon Lattimore

39. Devin Booker

40. Joel Embiid

41. Amari Cooper

41. Dak Prescott

43. Chris Paul

44. Ryan Ramczyk

45. Stefon Diggs

46. Jake Paul

46. Kemba Walker

46. Russell Wilson

49. Bradley Beal

50. TJ Watt

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