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Top 5 Highest Paid Athletes In The World

Jul 27, 2014

Athletes are paid astronomical amounts of money to play their respective sports. The minium salary in any of the four major pro sports in North America is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and the largest contracts are in the hundreds of millions. But who gets paid the most? Out of all the highly paid superstars who makes the most money? The answer according to Forbes might surprise you, it certainly surprised me.

1. Floyd Mayweather

Floyd MayweatherFloyd MayweatherCourtesy of SB Nation
  • Total Earnings: $105 million
  • Salary/winnings: $105 million
  • Endorsements: $0

The undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather is the first athlete since Tiger Woods to earn $100 million in Forbes' annual tally of the highest-paid athletes. His fight against Canelo Alvarez last year set records for highest pay-per-view gross ($150 million), live gate ($20 million) and total revenue (roughly $200 million). The Canelo fight was the second bout in the blockbuster 30-month, six fight deal he signed with Showtime in 2013 that is the reason he tops the list. No endorsements? Money May can't get a sponsorship deal? Look for him to top the list again next year as well. 

2. Cristiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo makes just enough to cover the cost of his hair gelRonaldo makes just enough to cover the cost of his hair gelCourtesy of FIFA
  • Total Earnings: $80 million
  • Salary/earnings: $52 million
  • Endorsements: $28 million

He might not be the best soccer player in the world (I think that honor still belongs to number four on this list) but he is the highest paid. After being awarded MVP in 2013 he was rewarded with a ludicrous $206 million contract. Throw in his many endorsements and Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the top money-making athletes on the planet.

3. LeBron James

Don't look LeBron, you just made another million dollarsDon't look LeBron, you just made another million dollarsCourtesy of SF Chronicle
  • Total Earnings: $72.3 million
  • Salary/earnings: $19.3 million
  • Endorsements: $53 million

No surprise here, King James is the top endorsement star in the NBA and has multi-million dollar deals in place with Nike, McDonalds and Coca-Cola to supplement his NBA salary (which will go up now with the Cavs). LeBron is a superstar of the highest order and will continue to be on this list for years to come barring a public scandal.

4. Lionel Messi

My name is Messi, and I'm a millionaireMy name is Messi, and I'm a millionaireCourtesy of FIFA
  • Total Earnings: $64.7 million
  • Salary/earnings: $41.7 million
  • Endorsements: $23 million

Massive contracts with sponsors like Adidas, who launched his signature Messi shoe last year, have invested heavily in Barcelona's most prolific goal scorer and poster boy for the beatiful game. And Messi will only get richer as he signed a new contract recently that will pay him $50 million a year and extend his stay at Barcelona until 2018. The boy with the boyish looks will be lauging all the way to the bank for years to come.

5. Kobe Bryant

Smile Kobe, you are stinking richSmile Kobe, you are stinking richCourtesy of NBA
  • Total Earnings: $61.5 million
  • Salary/earnings: $30.5 million
  • Endorsements: $31 million

The Black Mamba makes more than any other player in the NBA and will continue to be the highest paid player for the next two years as he signed a lucrative contract extension with the Lakers. Kobe's key to success is his marketing presence worldwide with endorsements from international companies like Lenovo, Hublot and Panini. Just because Kobe is slowing down on the court a little doesn't mean he's going to ease up on earning that paper. 

Have your say!

Do athletes make too much money? Or are they paid what they deserve considering how much money sports teams make? Were you surprised to see Floyd Mayweather at the top of the list? Let us know in the comments below. 



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