Have you ever wondered how much money athletes make from playing their favorite sports? You might be surprised to find out that some sports pay much more than others. In fact, some of the highest-paying sports in the world are not even the most popular ones.
In this article, I will reveal the top 10 highest-paying sports in the world as of 2023 based on average salaries, endorsements, deals, and prize money. You will also learn about some of the richest athletes in each sport and what makes them so successful.
Here Are the Highest Paying Sports Overview
|Sport||Average Salary (2022/23)|
|Ice Hockey||$3 Million|
|American Football||$0.86 Million|
|Highest-Paid Athlete||LeBron James|
|Highest paying league||NBA|
Basketball is the highest-paying sport in the world as of 2023. The NBA is the highest-paying league in the world. During the 1970s, basketball started paying very high. NBA players earn an average salary of $10 million annually.
However, some of the top players earn much more than that from their contracts and endorsement deals.
LeBron James, presently a player for the Los Angeles Lakers, is among them. He has lucrative deals with Nike, Coca-Cola PepsiCo, Beats by Dre, Blaze Pizza, GMC, AT&T, Walmart, Rimowa, Calm app, Ladder supplements, Uninterrupted media company, SpringHill Entertainment production company, Liverpool FC soccer team (minority stake), among others. His total earnings for 2023 are estimated at $96 million.
Another example is Stephen Curry, who plays for the Golden State Warriors. He is widely regarded as one of the best shooters in NBA history and has won three NBA titles.
He also has endorsement deals with Under Armour, Chase Bank, Vivo smartphone brand, Rakuten e-commerce giant, and Palm smartphone brand (co-owner), among others3. Stephen’s total earnings for 2023 are projected at $74 million.
|Highest-Paid Athlete||Mike Trout|
|Earning||$486 million (including 12-year contract with the Angels)|
|Highest paying league||MLB|
Baseball is another high-paying sport in the world as of 2023. MLB is the most popular and highest-paying baseball league. Baseball players get huge salaries from team management, endorsement deals, and signatures on shoes and jerseys to boost their yearly income.
The richest baseball player in the world is American former professional Alex Rodriguez, who currently has a net worth of $400 million. According to Forbes, New York Mets’ new ace Max Scherzer is the highest-paid baseball athlete today, with a $43 million salary from 2023 alone.
3. Ice Hockey
|Highest-Paid Athlete||Jaromir Jagr|
|Highest paying league||NHL|
Elite players can earn multi-million dollar contracts, with additional income from endorsements and sponsorship deals. The NHL’s lucrative broadcasting contracts and strong fan base contribute to the sport’s high-paying nature.
The National Hockey League (NHL) is the most profitable ice hockey league, with players earning at least $775,000 per year as the league’s minimum payment.
The Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) is another hockey league that pays players a lot of money, especially in Russia and other countries. On average, players in the KHL make around $425,000 each year! In the 2016-17 season, the league made a lot of money – €820 million!
The highest-paid ice hockey player depends on how you measure it.
Connor McDavid, who plays for the Edmonton Oilers, highest-paid hockey player for the 2022-23 season. He makes a lot of money – $12.5 million each year!
|Highest-Paid Athlete||Cristiano Ronaldo|
|Highest paying league||Premier League|
Soccer (or association football) is another highest paying sport in the world. Soccer ranks fourth among the highest-paid sports in terms of average salary per player, with $1.6 million to $3.2 million per year.
The Premier League in England and Wales is the highest-paying soccer league among professionals, with a total revenue of €6.1 billion in 2021-22.
This sport is very popular worldwide and attracts huge sponsorship deals and transfer fees for its stars.
Kylian Mbappe of Paris Saint-Germain is the current highest-paid player in the world, with a total income of $125 million ($105 million salary + $20 million endorsements) for the 2022-23 season. But recently, Cristiano Ronaldo joined a Sudi Arabian club Al Naseer FC with a record transfer fee of $214 million.
Despite the best players earning from soccer, there are lots of other players who are earning millions of dollars.
5. American Football
|Highest-Paid Athlete||Tom Brady|
|Highest paying league||NFL|
This sport is very lucrative in the US, where the NFL is the most valuable sports league. It has become the highest-paying sport in the world because it is very popular and profitable in the United States.
Some of the largest sports contracts belong to American football players, such as Patrick Mahomes, Dak Prescott, and Josh Allen. In 2020, the football player who earned the most money was Kirk Cousins. He made a whopping $60.5 million! With massive television contracts and sponsorships, American football is a highly lucrative sport for its top athletes.
The highest-paying American football league is the National Football League (NFL). It is the most profitable professional sports league in the US. In 2022, the typical amount of money an NFL player earned was $3.1 million.
The players get huge contracts and bonuses from their teams and also make money from endorsements and merchandise sales.
|Highest-Paid Athlete||Sachin Tendulkar|
|Highest paying league||IPL|
Cricket is one of the most popular sports in the world, and it has the second most players after soccer. Cricket Players make from various sources incl, using monthly salary from the national cricket board.
Cricket makes a lot of money from TV deals and business partnerships.
Cricket is played in many countries around the world, and there are different cricket leagues that give big money and prizes to the players and teams. The Indian Premier League (IPL) is the cricket league that pays the most money.
The IPL is a professional Twenty20 cricket league that was founded in 2008 and has become one of the most popular and successful sports leagues in the world. The IPL has various sources of income, such as broadcasting rights, sponsorship deals, ticket sales, merchandise sales, etc.
IPL has had one of the highest broadcasting rights deals, $2.55 billion, for five years. The IPL also pays its players very well, with some of the top stars earning more than $15 million per four four-week tournaments.
In contrast, Australia’s captain Steven Smith earns US$1.469 million per year from the national cricket board, while Zimbabwe’s captain Graeme Cremer earns $86,000 per year.
|Highest-Paid Athlete||Floyd Mayweather|
Boxing has always been one of the highest-paying sports in the world. It is a combat sport played between two people inside a ring. Boxers can earn millions of dollars per fight depending on their popularity and skill level.
Here are some of the highest-paying boxing tournaments in history are:
- Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao (2015) – Total revenue: $600 million
- Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor (2017) – Total revenue: $662.5 million
- Floyd Mayweather vs. Canelo Alvarez (2013) – Total revenue: $150 million
These matches made a lot of money from people paying to watch on TV, fans buying tickets to the game, companies sponsoring the teams, and fans purchasing souvenirs.
You have got an idea of how much money there is in boxing. Wait! Let me introduce you to some of the highest-paid boxers in the world currently are:
Floyd Mayweather: There is no doubt that he is one of the greatest boxers ever. He has gotten more than $1 billion from his fights and the things he endorses. He is retired but still makes occasional appearances in exhibition matches.
Anthony Joshua: He is a champion in heavyweight boxing from Britain, and he has won many titles. He has a lot of money – $80 million! For each fight, he makes roughly $30 million, and he also has very good contracts with companies like Under Armour, Beats by Dre, and Hugo Boss.
Tyson Fury: He is another British heavyweight champion who has a net worth of $40 million. He earns around $28 million per fight and has endorsements with BT Sport, Paddy Power, and Wow Hydrate.
|Highest-Paid Athlete||The Rock|
|Highest paying league||WWE|
Wrestling is a sport that involves grappling, throwing, and pinning opponents. It can be divided into amateur wrestling and professional wrestling. Professional wrestling is a form of entertainment that combines athletic skills with scripted storylines and characters.
Some of the most well-paid wrestlers include The Rock, Brock Lesnar, John Cena, and Roman Reigns. They earn millions of dollars per year from WWE and other sources.
Some of the highest-paid wrestling tournaments in the world are:
The Zloty Tur: This is an elite-level arm wrestling tournament held in Poland. The Zloty Tur offers total prize money of $100,000, which attracts some of the best arm wrestlers in the world.
WrestleMania: This is WWE’s biggest annual event that features some of the most popular and highest-paid wrestlers. It offers total prize money of around $15 million and generates millions of viewers and revenue.
The D1 China Open: This is a professional wrestling tournament held in China. This competition gives out $1 million in prizes, and it has some really good wrestlers from WWE, AEW, NJPW, and other places.
Professional wrestling, notably under the umbrella of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), offers athletes lucrative contracts, merchandise sales, and endorsements.
This sport is a form of entertainment that combines athleticism, drama, and spectacle.
The wrestlers perform scripted matches that attract millions of fans around the world who pay to watch them live or on TV.
The wrestlers get paid well for their popularity and charisma, as well as their physical abilities.
|Highest-Paid Athlete||Tiger Woods|
|Highest paying league||PGA|
Golf is a game of skill, precision, and patience where players compete on various courses around the world. The golfers get paid well for their achievements and rankings, as well as their endorsements and appearance fees.
Golf is a sport that involves hitting a ball with a club into a series of holes on a course. It can be played individually or in teams.
Maybe you know some of the famous personalities from golf. They really earn a lot more than you think.
Tiger Woods is the golfer who has earned the most money ever. He has made more than $1.4 billion just by playing golf. He is one of the highest-paid athletes on the Forbes list.
He is followed by Phil Mickelson, who has earned $830 million from playing golf. Both of them have also made a lot of money from advertisements and starting their own businesses.
Highest-paying golf tournament is the Tour Championship, which has a total purse of $46 million. The winner of this tournament receives a whopping $15 million as part of the FedEx Cup bonus pool.
The second biggest golf tournament payout is The Players Championship. The total prize money is $15 million, and the winner gets $2.7 million.
|Highest-Paid Athlete||Novak Djokovic|
|Highest paying league||US Open|
Tennis is a game of speed, power, and agility where players use rackets to hit balls across a net. The tennis players get paid well for their wins and titles, as well as their sponsorships and prize money.
Forbes says that eight out of the ten women who get paid the most money in sports are tennis players.
The world’s highest-paid tennis player is Roger Federer, who made an estimated $90 million before taxes and agents’ fees over the last 12 months despite not playing a single match.
Naomi Osaka is the tennis player who made the second-most money this year, with an estimated $56.2 million. Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic takes home the most tennis earnings, putting him among the highest-paid athletes of all time.
The highest-paying tennis tournament in the world is the US Open, which offered total prize money of $57.462 million in 2021.
What is the highest-paid sport?
Basketball is the highest-paid sport, with an average annual salary of $7.7 million. The NBA dominates this sport with its lucrative contracts and endorsement deals.
Which sport has the most endorsements and sponsorships?
Tennis has the highest number of endorsements and sponsorships of any sport. Federer alone made $100 million from endorsements in 2020.
Which sport has the highest prize money for tournaments?
Soccer has the highest prize money for tournaments among sports, with competitions like the FIFA World Cup, UEFA Champions League, and Copa America offering millions of dollars to winners and participants. The 2022 FIFA World Cup had a total prize pool of $400 million.
Who are the highest-paid athletes?
Michael Jordan has made the most money out of any athlete ever, with $2.37 billion. Tiger Woods and Arnold Palmer are close behind him.
It’s apparent that numerous sports present profitable prospects for athletes who excel in their respective fields. Basketball, boxing, American football, golf, soccer, tennis, ice hockey, baseball, cricket, and wrestling are among the most lucrative sports.
You have seen that there are many factors that determine how much athletes make from playing their favorite sports. Nonetheless, these standings could vary with time depending on elements like popularity, demand, sponsorship deals, prize money, and endorsements.
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