While a majority of the sporting world is still reeling from the financial impacts of Covid-19, the effects of the pandemic clearly haven’t been felt by the top brass of athletes. Forbes released their annual ranking of the Top 10 highest-paid athletes in the world this week and a record four sports stars have earned over $100 million in 2021. In total, the top 10 athletes took home an estimated $1.05 billion in the past year, which represents a 28% increase from 2020. Now that is something to think about, while all of us are figuring out what our next home workout is going to be…
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UFC Star Conor McGregor led the way in 2021 and took home a whopping $180 million to become the highest-paid athlete of the year. Interestingly, McGregor fought only once in 2021 – in January at UFC 257 – and earned a $22 million appearance fee. The majority of his earnings – approximately $158 million – came from the majority stake sale of his whiskey brand “Proper No. Twelve” to Proximo Spirits for $600 million.
On the Forbes list, McGregor is followed by the two biggest football stars, Lionel Messi ($130 million) and Cristiano Ronaldo ($120 million) with Dallas Cowboys NFL quarterback Dak Prescott ($107.5 million) in fourth.
Lionel Messi made waves in 2020 with his public desire to leave boyhood club FC Barcelona. Documents of his Barcelona contract were also leaked to the press later in the year, which revealed that the total worth of his contract was an estimated $674 million. Messi pocketed $130 million in 2021, which includes $97 million from his on-field activities and the rest from his various endorsements such as Adidas, Gatorade, Huawei & Mastercard among others.
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Much to his disappointment, Ronaldo once again comes in behind Lionel Messi and made “only” $120 million in 2021. Ronaldo’s contract with Juventus is estimated to be worth $70 million annually and the rest of his income came from his sponsorships such as Nike and also his own CR7 brand of clothing, accessories, hotels and gyms.
The only other footballer on the list is PSG’s Neymar in 6th who is just $5 million shy of the $100 million mark in 2021. Neymar switched from Nike’s Jordan Brand to Puma in 2021 and also had an endorsement deal with the makers of the Fortnite video game, Epic Games.
Two basketball stars were also part of the top 10 with Lebron James in 5th with $96.5 million – a record for NBA players – and Kevin Durant in 10th with $75 million. Other notable stars to make the list include Roger Federer ($90 million) who earned almost all of his income through endorsements with Rolex, Credit Suisse and Uniqlo and Lewis Hamilton ($82 million) who equalled Michael Schumacher’s record of 7 Formula One World Championships in the past year.
If you weren’t feeling bad enough about your life in lockdown, we know we haven’t helped…but instead of curling back into bed and watching Netflix, maybe these guys will inspire you to do something special in the year ahead!
[Image Credit: Conor McGregor]