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These Are the 10 Highest Paid Athletes in the World Right Now

These superstars are winning even when they're not playing.

Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors. Getty Images

It may not come at any surprise that being an athlete is one of the highest paid gigs going. Between bargaining for the best contract, obtaining brand deals, and hosting public appearances, the stream of revenue for athletes can be endless.

Forbes magazine has released its list of the 10 highest paid athletes in the world, breaking down what each star makes both from their teams and outside the field of play. This year’s list is greatly influenced by Saudi Arabia, which launched the LIV Golf tour, luring star players away from the PGA with enormous paydays, and then the Saudi soccer team Al Nassr did the same, signing Cristiano Ronaldo to a massive contract. Here is the current top 10.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo: $136 million

LUXEMBOURG, LUXEMBOURG - MARCH 26: Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal in action during the UEFA EURO 2024 Qualifying Round Group J match between Luxembourg and Portugal at Stade de Luxembourg on March 26, 2023 in Luxembourg. (Photo by Will Palmer/Sportsphoto/Allstar via Getty Images)
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Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo ranks as the world’s highest paid athlete with an annual income at a whopping $136 million. Recently, Ronaldo left Manchester United when his salary was doubled to $75 million to join Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr in January. Out of his cleats, Forbes estimates that the star makes around $90 million between his 850 million cross-platform followers and his new sponsorship with Binance, a cryptocurrency exchange. His $136 million makes him the highest paid soccer player of all-time.

2. Lionel Messi: $130 million

PARIS, FRANCE - APRIL 30: Lionel Messi #30 of Paris Saint-Germain controls the ball during the Ligue 1 match between Paris Saint-Germain and FC Lorient at Parc des Princes on April 30, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Catherine Steenkeste/Getty Images)
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Despite not having a nailed down a future team (rumors have it he may be joining Ronaldo in Saudi Arabia), the Paris-Germain player is doing just fine, earning $65 million both on and off the field. He works with some of the biggest companies in the world including PepsiCo, Adidas, and Budweiser not to mention his deal with Socios—the blockchain-based fan platform brings in around $20 million. The Argentinian soccer star also started an investment firm, Play Time, this past year.

3. Kylian Mbappé: $120 million

PARIS, FRANCE - APRIL 30: Kylian Mbappe of Paris Saint-Germain during the Ligue 1 match between Paris Saint-Germain and FC Lorient at Parc des Princes on April 30, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images)
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Being a soccer superstar surely does pay as our third highest paid athlete is Messi’s Paris-Germain teammate, Kylian Mbappé. On the field alone, he makes $100 million on his current salary at just 24 years old, making him the highest paid soccer player from the game alone. He also has a partnership with Sorare as an ambassador to the cryptocurrency fantasy game, which contributes to his $20 million paycheck from off-field business endeavors.

4. LeBron James: $119.5 million

LeBron James
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The basketball legend became the first active athlete to become a billionaire this past June—owing largely to his intelligent business moves. The Lakers player makes just under $45 million on the court, while most of his millions are made in boardrooms. James joined up with his personal trainer Mike Mancias to create Ladder in 2018. The sports nutrition company focuses on pre-workout supplements and protein powders. James is also the mastermind behind the the production company SpringHill. He is also a major investor in Fenway Sports Group, Major League Pickleball, Lobos 1707 tequila, Canyon Bicycles, Neutral Foods, and Mitchell & Ness apparel. This brings his off-court total up to $75 million a year.

5. Canelo Álvarez: $110 million

ZAPOPAN, MEXICO - MARCH 14: Saul Canelo Alvarez poses with his belts during the press conference at Akron Stadium on March 14, 2023 in Zapopan, Mexico. Canelo Alvarez will fight against John Ryder on May 6, 12 years after his last combat in Mexico. The event will take place at Akron Stadium. (Photo by Alfredo Moya/Jam Media/Getty Images)
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Unlike most of his fellow listmates, Canelo Álvarez is making the bulk of his salary directly from his athletic performance, making $100 million annually from boxing alone. Out of the ring, he has partnered with Hennessy and Michelob Ultra, as wellas being an entrepreneur of his own brands. He owns a chain of gas stations called Canelo Energy, the fitness app I Can, his own sports drink Yaoca and a canned cocktail brand VMC.

6. Dustin Johnson: $106 million

Dustin Johnson
Saul Martinez

When LIV golf, a Saudi-backed golf tour, teed off last June, Dustin Johnson was part of a collection players who defected from the PGA. The move to LIV may have been risky but it paid off when Johnson walked away with $35.6 million. Making the switch also allowed Johnson to co-own and captain the 4Aces GC team. In just 2023 alone, Johnson has racked up $3.3 million from five LIV events.

7. Phil Mickelson: $106 million

SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE - APRIL 30: Phil Mickelson of HyFlyers GC  in action during day three of the LIV Golf Invitational - Singapore at Sentosa Golf Club on April 30, 2023 in Singapore. (Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images)
Suhaimi Abdullah

Golf champ Phil Mickelson followed Johnson over to LIV, even if that meant losing the sponsors he had previously. When he’s not raking in millions on the green (winning $1.6 million at the Masters), Mickelson is working with the coffee supplement brand he co-founded For Wellness. He is also apart of a group of investors that just purchased land right outside of Phoenix. Before switching to LIV, Mickelson had brought in over $1 billion throughout his career.

8. Stephen Curry: $100.4 million

Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors.
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With a salary of $48.1 million, the Warriors star is the highest paid player of the season. He also has a career-long contract with Under Armour as well as a recent partnership with Chase Bank. Like LeBron James, Stephen Curry is also quite the entrepreneur with his own multimedia company Unanimous Media that is set to release a documentary on Curry this July on Apple TV+. He is also an investor in Golf+ and Tiger Woods’ TMRW Sport.

9 Roger Federer: $95.1 million

PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 23: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY - For Non-Editorial use please seek approval from Fashion House) Roger Federer attends the Christian Dior Haute Couture Spring Summer 2023 show as part of Paris Fashion Week  on January 23, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Victor Boyko/Getty Images)
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Despite being retired from his tennis career, the 41-year-old Swiss set himself up with his many investments. According to Forbes, he has over a dozen of partnerships that he remains involved with and has just entered a licensing agreement with Oliver Peoples’ Eyewear. He also has stake in the shoe company On, which pushes him over the $95 million mark.

10. Kevin Durant: $89.1 million

DENVER, COLORADO - APRIL 29: Kevin Durant #35 of the Phoenix Suns is guarded by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope #5 of the Denver Nuggets in the first quarter at Ball Arena on April 29, 2023 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman

Kevin Durant recently signed a new contract with the Phoenix Suns in a trade with the Brooklyn Nets, which brought his yearly salary to $44.1 million. But, like most of the above athletes, Durant is an investor with stakes in several companies including League One Volleyball, Happy Viking, Premiere Lacrosse League, TMRW Sports, and Athletes Unlimited among an array of other companies. To top it all off, the basketball player just got upgraded to a lifetime contract with Nike. All in total comes out to $45 million on top of his salary with the Suns.

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