The modern-day sporting industry is full of opportunities to make colossal amounts of money. This comes from the significantly high salaries paid to players, numerous endorsement deals, television rights, and many other money-making avenues. As a result, the world's richest athletes are worth huge fortunes from money made on and off the field. So who are these athletes, and what is their net worth in 2022?
The wealthiest athletes in the world come from a wide range of sports, the most common being basketball, tennis, football, and Formula One racing.
Richest athletes in the world
Who is the richest athlete in the world? Here is a look at the 30 wealthiest athletes in the world and their current net worth.
30. Kimi Raikkonen: $250 million
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Kimi Raikkonen is a Finnish racing driver who has competed in Formula One since 2001. Kimi raced for Alfa Romeo, Lotus, Ferrari, and Sauber. He won the 2007 Formula One World Championship while racing for the Scuderia Ferrari team.
At the peak of his Formula One career, Kimi earned about $50 million per year and was among the highest-paid athletes at the time. While his deal with Ferrari significantly limited his endorsements, he still managed to get sponsorships from companies such as Wrangler and Oakley.
In 2013, Kimi became the first-ever male spokesperson for Wrangler in Europe. Today, his net worth is estimated to be about $250 million.
29. Grant Hill: $250 million
Grant Hill is a former professional basketball player who currently co-owns NBA team Atlanta Hawks. Hill is widely regarded as one of the greatest NBA players ever. Before his retirement from professional basketball, Grant played for 18 seasons in a career that included stints at Los Angeles Clippers (2012-2013), Phoenix Suns (2007-2012), Orlando Magic (2000-2007), and the Detroit Pistons (1994-2000).
During his lengthy career in the NBA, Hill earned a whopping $140 million in salaries and about $120 million in brand endorsements. His current net worth is estimated to be $250 million.
28. Gary Player: $250 million
Grant is a retired professional golf player who is widely considered among the best golfers in the game's history. Gary won nine major championships on the regular tour and nine on the champion's tour throughout his career.
Gary began his golfing career at a relatively young age, going on to win the 1965 US Open at age 29. Before his thirtieth birthday, Gary had completed the career Grand Slam in golf, becoming the youngest golfer to achieve the feat at the time. Gary's net worth in 2021 is estimated to be $250 million.
27. Fernando Alonso: $260 million
Fernando Alonso Diaz is a Spanish racing driver who currently races for Formula One team Alpine. Hoe won the World Drivers Championship in 2005 and 2006 while racing for Renault. He also raced for Minardi, Ferrari, and McLaren at some point in his career.
Fernando holds the world record for the youngest player to win the World Drivers' Championship. The race driver reportedly makes about $40 million each year in brand endorsements has a current net worth estimated at $260 million.
26. Lewis Hamilton: $285 million
Lewis Hamilton is a British Formula One racing driver currently racing for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas team. Before joining Mercedes, Hamilton raced for McLaren for five years between 2007 and 2012. He holds a joint world record for World Drivers' Championships (tied with Michael Schumacher).
In addition, Lewis also holds the records for most podium finishes in Formula One (182), most pole positions (103), and most Formula One wins (103). He is widely regarded as one of the best Formula One drivers of all time. He typically makes about $50 million each year, much of which comes from his contract with Mercedes, which is worth about $40 million annually.
25. George Foreman: $300 Million
George Foreman is inarguably one of the best ever athletes who ever graced the boxing world. The former American professional boxer, minister, author, and entrepreneur also happens to be one of the richest boxers of all time. Foreman is an Olympic gold medalist and two-time world heavyweight champion.
Across business circles, George Foreman is known for the hugely successful George Foreman Grill. After turning pro in 1969, George stacked up an impressive 76 wins out of 81 professional fights. By the 1980s, the former boxer's net worth was about $5 million.
Thanks to the massive success of the George Foreman Grill, the former boxer's net worth skyrocketed to the current $300 million.
24. Dale Earnhardt Jr: $300 Million
Ralph Dale Earnhardt Jr. is a semi-retired American stock car racing driver. He is also an author, team owner, and NBC analyst for NASCAR. Additionally, Dale also takes part in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, in which he drives the No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro for the JR Motorsports team.
Dale's father is a world-famous NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee. Dale's current net worth is about $300 million.
23. Alex Rodriguez: $350 Million
Nicknamed A-Rod, Alex Rodriguez is a former professional baseball third baseman and shortstop. He is also a renowned philanthropist and businessman. Alex's career in the MLB (Major League Baseball) saw him play for the New York Yankees, Texas Rangers, and Seattle Mariners.
He is the current chairman of A-Rod corporation, owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves, and chairman of Presidente, a Pilsner beer that is owned and produced by Cervecería Nacional Dominicana in the Dominican Republic.
22. Vincent Johnson: $400 Million
Vincent Johnson is a former professional basketball player who played for the San Antonio Spurs, Detroit Pistons and the Seattle SuperSonics. While playing for the Detroit Pistons, Vincent won the NBA Championship in 1989 and 1990.
He was nicknamed 'the Microwave' for his uncanny ability to heat up the team within a concise time. Johnson's current worth is $400 million.
21. Dwayne Johnson: $400 Million
Dwayne Douglas Johnson is popularly known by his wrestling ring name, The Rock, and is inarguably one of the best-known professional wrestlers and actors. He is also an accomplished businessman with numerous business interests across numerous sectors.
The Rock wrestled in the WWE for about eight years before choosing to pursue other ventures. His acting career has seen him appear in films that have collectively grossed more than $10.5 billion, making him one of the highest-grossing and highest-paid actors in the world.
Some of Johnson's business interests include Seven Bucks, Teremana, Project Rock Collection, Zoa sports drink, and co-ownership of the XFL football league. His current net worth is $400 million.
20. Shaquille O'Neal: $400 Million
Commonly known as Shaq, Shaquille Rashaun O'Neal is a former professional basketball player who currently works as a sports analyst on the popular television show Inside the NBA. He is widely considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time.
Shaq's NBA career spanned six teams: Orlando Magic from 1992-93 to 1995-96, the Los Angeles Lakers from 1996-97 to 2003-04, the Miami Heat from 2004-05 to 2007-08, the Phoenix Suns from 2007-08 to 2008-09, the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2009-10 and the Boston Celtics in 2010-11. He played for 19 years and won the NBA Championship four times.
Shaq earned $292 million in salary throughout his career and more than $200 million in brand endorsements. Even after his retirement, the former basketball player still makes about $60 million in endorsements and numerous business interests.
19. Phil Mickelson: $400 Million
Phil Mickelson, nicknamed Lefty, is an American professional golf player who has won 45 events on the PGA Tour, including three Masters titles, two PGA Championships, and one Open Championship. After his victory at the 2021 PGA Championship, Phil became the oldest golfer to win the championship. At the time, he was almost 51 years old.
Phil is also one of the 17 players to win at least three of the four golf majors. He has won every major except the US Open, in which he has finished in second place a record six times. Mickelson's net worth is currently estimated to be $400 million.
18. Jack Nicklaus: $400 Million
Nicknamed 'the Golden Bear', Jack Nicklaus is a retired professional golfer, considered to be among the best players in the history of the game. Jack won 117 professional tournaments in his lengthy golf career spanning more than 25 years. In addition, he won a record 18 major championships, three more than his closest rival, Tiger Woods.
During his time as a golfer, Jack focused on the major championships, the PGA Championship, the Open Championship, US Open, and the Masters' Tournament. He currently works as a golf course designer.
17. Greg Norman: $400 Million
Greg is a retired professional golfer renowned for his record 331-week streak as the world's number 1 in the Official World Golf Rankings. Norman won 89 professional tournaments, including two majors and 20 PGA Tour tournaments.
Greg is an accomplished entrepreneur and runs a golf course design company in Australia. He is also the CEO of a firm called Great White Shark Enterprises.
16. Floyd Mayweather: $450 Million
Floyd Joy Mayweather Jr is a former professional boxer who currently works as a professional boxing promoter. His boxing career spanned from 1996 to 2015. He came back for a single fight in 2017. Mayweather won 15 major world championships in several weight classes during his career. He is best known for retiring with an undefeated record.
Besides his enviable exploits in the boxing ring, Mayweather is also among the richest athletes of all time. His current net worth is estimated to be $450 million. He was named the 2010s fighter of the decade by the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA).
15. David Beckham: $450 Million
Renowned for his physics-defying freekicks during his glory days, David Beckham is undoubtedly among the most talented footballers to ever play for the England national team. He is currently the co-owner and president of Inter Miami CF.
Beckham played for several teams in his football career. These include Paris Saint-Germain, LA Galaxy, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Preston North End, and Manchester United. He became the first English player to win league titles in four different countries: France, the United States, Spain, and England.
Besides his decorated football career, Beckham is also an accomplished businessman. He has endorsements with major brands such as H&M, Haig Club Whisky, Tudor watches, and Adidas. His current net worth is $450 Million.
14. LeBron James: $500 Million
LeBron James is an American professional basketball player who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers. Nicknamed 'King James', he is widely considered one of the greatest NBA players of all time. He frequently draws comparisons with the legendary Michael Jordan.
James joined the NBA after high school when he was drafted as the number one pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2003 draft. He is the only player to have won NBA Championships with three different teams: Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, and the Cleveland Cavaliers. His current net worth is about half a billion dollars.
13. Cristiano Ronaldo: $500 Million
Cristiano Ronaldo is a professional Portuguese football player who plays for the English Premier League side Manchester United. He is also the current captain of the Portugal national team. Cristiano is considered one of the greatest football players of all time and holds numerous records even before the end of his career.
The forward has won four European Golden Shoe awards and five Ballon d'Or awards. The player typically earns anything between $100 million and $150 million in salaries and endorsements in a year. Some of the most notable companies he has endorsement deals with include Herbalife, Clear Shampoo, and Nike.
12. Roger Federer: $550 Million
Roger Federer is a Swiss professional tennis player who has won 20 Grand Slam men's titles, a record he shares with Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. Federer has been the world number 1 tennis player in the ATP rankings for 310 weeks in his career, including a 237-week unbroken streak.
Federer's career has taken place in an era where he has dominated men's tennis alongside two other great players, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. The three are collectively referred to as the Big Three and are widely regarded as some of the best tennis players in the history of the sport.
11. Roger Staubach: $600 Million
Nicknamed 'Roger the Dodger,' Staubach is an American former professional football (American) player. He played as a quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys and led the team to victories in the Super Bowl XII and the Super Bowl VI.
He was the first of the four players who have won both the Super Bowl MVP and the Heisman Trophy at the same time. He currently has several business interests, which, combined with his career earnings, have seen his net worth skyrocket to about $600 million.
10. Michael Schumacher: $600 Million
Michael Schumacher is a German former Formula One racing driver who raced for Mercedes, Ferrari, Benetton, and Jordan. He holds a joint-record 7 World Drivers' Championship titles (tied with Lewis Hamilton).
At the time of his retirement in 2012, he held the records for most podium finishes (155), most pole positions (68), and most wins (91). However, all these have since been broken by Lewis Hamilton. Still, Schumacher still holds the record for the highest number of fastest laps (77).
Schumacher is among the few athletes whose cumulative career earnings exceed the $1 billion mark. At the peak of his Formula One career, Schumacher used to earn between $80 million and $100 million per year from salaries and endorsements.
9. Magic Johnson: $600 Million
Earvin' Magic' Johnson is an American former professional basketball player and the former president of basketball operations at the LA Lakers. He is often regarded as the best point guard in the history of the NBA. Johnson played for the Lakers in a career spanning 13 seasons. In 1996, he was honoured as one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history.
Magic Johnson's current net worth is $600 million.
8. Lionel Messi: $600 million
Lionel Andres Messi is an Argentine football player who currently plays as a forward for Paris Saint-Germain. He is also the captain of the Argentine national team. Over the last few years, there have been numerous comparisons pitting the Argentine against Cristiano Ronaldo for the title of the football GOAT (Greatest of all Time).
Messi has won a record 7 Ballon d'Or awards, six European Golden Shoe awards, and many more. Much of Messi's career has been at his boyhood club, FC Barcelona. He played 778 games for the Spanish club, scoring 672 goals before joining PSG in August 2021.
7. Junior Bridgeman: $600 Million
Ulysses Lee Bridgeman, commonly known as Junior Bridgeman, is an American former basketball player who played in the NBA for 12 years from 1975 to 1987. He is also an accomplished entrepreneur and owns the Jet and Ebony magazines. Surprisingly, Bridgeman never made more than $350,000 per season during his NBA career.
Unlike most athletes on this list, Bridgeman's current net worth is barely attributable to salaries and endorsements during his NBA career. The former basketball player invested in fast food franchises such as Wendy's, a business decision that saw his fortune to the current $600 million.
6. Eddie Jordan: $600 Million
Edmund Jordan, commonly known as EJ, is an Irish former motorsport team owner, TV personality, businessman, and Kart Championship racer. In 1971, Eddie won the Irish Kart Championship before moving to Formula Ford in 1974.
He later founded Jordan Grand Prix, a Formula One constructor that competed between 1991 and 2005. Jordan is currently a lead analyst for Formula One coverage on BBC.
5. Tiger Woods: $800 Million
Eldrick Tont 'Tiger' Woods is an American professional golfer wo holds a joint-record PGA Tour wins and is the second-best golfer in terms of the number of major championships won. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest golfers of all time.
After an impressive junior, college, and amateur career, Tiger turned professional in 1996 when he was only 20 years old. One year after turning pro, he had won three PGA Tour events as well as his first major. The golfer reportedly earns between $50 million and $60 million each year.
His cumulative career earnings are over $1.5 billion (about $1.8 billion when adjusted for inflation). He is also the highest-earning golfer of all time.
4. Anna Kasprzak: $1 Billion
Anna Kasprzak is a Danish dressage rider renowned for representing her country at the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics. At the 2012 outing, Anna's team finished in fourth place. However, her net worth is not related to her dressage riding exploits.
She is the heir to the Danish ECCO shoe business empire, currently run by her mother, Hanni Toosbuy. Additionally, Anna is among the richest women under 30 years.
3. Ion Tiriac: $1.2 Billion
Ion Tiriac, nicknamed 'The Bulldozer,' is a Romanian former professional tennis and ice hockey player. He is the current president of the Romanian Tennis Federation. After a successful ice hockey and tennis career, Tiriac ventured into the business world and currently runs some successful entities.
2. Vince McMahon: $1.6 Billion
Vince McMahon is an occasional wrestler, film producer, and wrestling promoter. He rose to fame as the Chief Executive Officer of World Wrestling Entertainment, famously known as WWE. With a $1.6 billion fortune, Vince is the second wealthiest athlete, even though he barely spends any time doing actual wrestling.
1. Michael Jordan: $2.2 Billion
Who is the richest athlete in the world in 2022? The answer is Michael Jeffrey Jordan, an American former professional basketball player and accomplished businessman. His biography on the NBA website reads, 'by acclamation, Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time.' That is quite something, especially coming from the official NBA site.
Jordan was integral in the global popularization of the NBA in the 1980s and 1990s. He played for 15 seasons in the NBA and won six championships, all with the Chicago Bulls. Currently, he is the owner of the Charlotte Hornets and the NASCAR Cup Series team, 23XI Racing.
Michael's career earnings, endorsements, and numerous business interests contribute to his massive 2.2 billion net worth.
Who is the highest paid athlete in 2021?
Despite not appearing in the top-30 wealthiest list, Conor McGregor was the highest paid athlete in 2021. The boxer was paid quite a fortune from the sale of the Proper No. Twelve whiskey brand. He also made quite a fortune from his endorsement deals with the likes of DraftKings, the lifestyle brand Roots of Fight, and the videogame Dystopia: Contest of Heroes.
Conor's cumulative earnings in 2021 were $180 million, $50 million more than his closest competitor, Lionel Messi.
The richest athletes in the world possess or possess the agility, skills, and talent to entertain their fans. In addition, they tend to have a knack for business and lucrative endorsement deals that complement their already significant earnings in their respective sports.
Legit.ng recently explored the life of Aliko Dangote, the richest man in Africa. The famous Nigerian tycoon is well-known globally and once featured in 43rd position on Forbes's Top 100 list. Dangote is renowned as the owner of the mega-conglomerate, the Dangote Group, with business interests in numerous economic sectors across several countries.
Who is the business magnate beyond his incredibly successful business ventures, and how did he come to be?