Forbes Releases List of Highest-Earning Athletes

Forbes released their list of highest-paid athletes in 2018 on Tuesday. Unsurprisingly, this list is topped once again by boxer Floyd Mayweather. The top ten on the list is made up of two boxers, three soccer players, two NBA players, one tennis player and two NFL players.

Mayweather’s endorsements and fight earnings—mostly from his fight with UFC’s Conor McGregor in August—totaled $285 million. He made $275 million from earnings and $10 million from endorsements with Burger King, FanDuel, and Hubolt. Mayweather has held the top earning spot four times in the past seven years but was overtaken by soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo in 2016 and 2017.

Lionel Messi took second; he brought home a total of $111 million. Messi receives some money from endorsements but finds most of his wealth comes from his $80 million annual contract.

This year, Ronaldo is in third. He makes most of his money from the contract with his soccer club, Real Madrid, but also gains a significant amount from endorsements. Ronaldo’s most lucrative endorsements are from watch company Tag Heuer, nutrition corporation Herbalife, and Nike.

Fourth place Conor McGregor is not an official Nike athlete, but he has posted enough photos with Nike equipment for fans to speculate on the possibility of potential future details. McGregor earned most of his wealth from the August fight with Mayweather, ending with a total $99 million.

Joining the two other soccer players on the list is Neymar, who made $90 million from endorsements with Nike, Red Bull and Gillette, as well as his contract with the French soccer club Paris Saint-Germain. Neymar is seven years through an eleven-year contract with Nike for an unspecified amount.

Neymar’s fellow Nike athlete, LeBron James, is number sixth on the list. He earned $85.5 million over the past year. James is the highest-earning athlete on the list that makes more from endorsements than he does from his $33.3 million annual contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Roger Federer has the largest positive difference between contract and endorsements, with $12.2 million in winnings and $65 million in endorsements, totaling $77.2 million this past year. Swiss chocolate maker Lindt and Sprungli recently signed an extension with Federer, adding $20 million to his earnings.

Another athlete that earns more from endorsements than from contracts is Steph Curry, who sits at number eight on the list. The Golden State Warriors’ Curry took a pay cut so the team could add more fire power and now only makes $34.9 million a year from his contract, but made $42 million from his various endorsements this year.

Quarterback Matt Ryan, number nine on the highest-earning list, makes significantly more money from his contract than endorsements. Ryan earns $62.3 million from his contract and game checks with the Atlanta Falcons and makes $5 million from endorsements with Nike, Banana Republic, and Gatorade.

Rounding out the top ten is another NFL player, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, who makes $57.5 million from his contract and $2 million in endorsements. Most of Stafford’s endorsements are from local Michigan businesses, but he is a sponsor for Nike and Pepsi as well.

The rest of the top 50 highest-earning athletes of the past year is made up of big names like NBA star Kevin Durant with $57.3 million, golfer Tiger Woods at $43.3 million, NFL quarterback Drew Brees earning $42.9 million, recent French Open winner Rafael Nadal in twentieth place with $41.4 million and Rory McIlroy, currently ranked sixth overall at the PGA Tour, at $37.7 million.


Featured Image via: Wikimedia Commons

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