They are the masters of their craft, in a sporting world that generally pays handsomely for their efforts.
The richest sportsmen and women in the world, while often unable to compete with business-based billionaires, still earn a pretty penny both for their performances in their chosen field and their endorsements away from it.
Here are four interesting facts about the richest athletes on the planet.
Lionel Messi is a Shrewd Negotiator
Considered to be one of the greatest footballers of all time, Lionel Messi is hot property even at the age of 36.
His move to perennial Major League Soccer whipping boys Inter Miami has sparked an upsurge in the team’s form that has seen their odds for those betting on sports shaved to 11/1 – they were as long as 50/1 to win the MLS Cup prior to the Argentine’s arrival.
The sports tips columns have also been out in force to back Miami after Messi scored two goals in each of his first three games for his new team.
Lionel Messi is only 24 goals away from becoming Inter Miami’s all-time top goalscorer 👀 pic.twitter.com/UUFFrmCxQn
— GOAL (@goal) August 3, 2023
The hard salary cap in the MLS means there’s a limit to Messi’s on-field earnings – around £43 million per season is his estimated take-home wage, but his powers of negotiation have secured him a raft of impressive extras.
He will become a part-owner in the Miami franchise, while penning revenue share agreements with a number of their commercial partners, who include Adidas and Apple.
As a consequence, Messi will earn far more than that £43 million annually – confirming his status as one of the richest athletes on the planet.
Cristiano Ronaldo Earns More Money off the Pitch Than on It
It’s amazing that Cristiano Ronaldo could hang up his boots, walk away from football, and still earn an estimated £70 million a year.
The Portuguese ace, who earns around £36 million a season from his contract with Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr, has partnered with a number of huge global companies to expand his already considerable wealth.
Nike, Louis Vuitton, TAG Heuer, Herbalife… you name them, Ronaldo has probably endorsed them, picking up a handsome paycheque for the privilege.
LeBron James is a Billionaire
Despite their obvious earning power, there aren’t that many active sports stars who have transcended to billionaire status.
But NBA legend LeBron James has thanks to his salary with the Los Angeles Lakers, but also his many different – and successful – investments.
The all-time leading point scorer in NBA history, James is a part-owner of Liverpool FC and the Boston Red Sox, has his own TV production and nutrition companies, has invested in many up-and-coming unicorn firms and even starred in the remake of the classic film Space Jam.
Canelo Has More Earning Potential Than Any Other Sports Star
The athletes featured on this list already earn more money for their commercial pulling power than their sporting prowess.
But not so Canelo Álvarez, the Mexican boxer whose sponsorship deals net a relatively paltry £8 million per annum.
However, he’s so revered as a fighter that pay-per-view sales are extraordinary for his bouts – Canelo can earn as much as £40 million per outing from PPV buys alone which, given that he’s one of the most active elite boxers on the planet, can rack up a handsome revenue stream in any given year.
One thing is for sure: the sporting world’s richest stars continue to get richer!