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Top 10 Richest Athletes in the World

VO: Rebecca Brayton

Script written by Liam Hillery.

The highest paid athletes in the world don’t necessarily make all their money from basketball, golf, tennis or whatever sport they play, but they certainly are some of the richest celebrities. Whether it’s Magic Johnson and his savvy investments, David Beckham and his lucrative endorsement deals or Roger Federer and HIS endorsements, these are some of the richest athletes – and some of the most talented athletes – in the world. WatchMojo counts down ten of the wealthiest athletes in the world today to give you something to shoot for.

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Transcript
Script written by Liam Hillery.

Top 10 Richest Athletes in the World


They do it for the love of the game… and the money isn’t too bad either. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 richest athletes in the world.

For this list, we’re only counting athletes whose approximate, estimated net worth is at least $300 million – although we’re not ranking them solely by how much money they’ve got; skills, reputation and legacy also play a part. And, while Rory McIlroy is reported by some to be worth $400M, most sources would say otherwise – so you won’t be finding him on this list.

#10: Shaquille O’Neal - $400 Million

This guy’s got as many dollars as he does nicknames. Over his 19 years in the NBA, Shaq Daddy was always front and center, whether he was playing for the LA Lakers, the Miami Heat, or the Boston Celtics. Sure, he became a four-time NBA champion and a three-time NBA Finals MVP, but he’s not just a sports guy: he’s had other ventures in music, films, and even reality TV. But perhaps even more impressive is Shaq’s business sense: the 7’1” center is active in real estate and bought stocks in a few small companies you may’ve heard of, like GE, PepsiCo and Apple – and that, in addition to his many, many endorsement deals, helped keep the money rolling in.

#9: David Beckham - $350 Million

Ah, the one-time face of world football… and what a face is. Is it that stunning mug that’s earned David Beckham his money? Or his world-class skills on the pitch? Well actually it’s a combination of the two. Becks has established a net worth of $350 million through years of lucrative contracts with Manchester United, Real Madrid, LA Galaxy, and PSG, as well as sponsorship deals with brands like Armani and Adidas. He’s also spearheading an MLS expansion team in Miami, which may just keep that MLS money rolling in. If you include Victoria’s money, well then the Beckhams are one serious power couple.

#8: Roger Federer - $350 Million

Also clocking in with a net worth around $350 million dollars is one of the tennis world’s biggest stars, a man who’s consistently hit records out of the park with each Grand Slam. Wimbledon aside, tennis isn’t the most popular fan sport. But even so, Federer has done just fine for himself, earning around $70 million in prize money over the course of his career. But that pales in comparison to what he’s earned through endorsements. Holding deals with the likes of Nike, Rolex, and Mercedes, to name a few, Federer pulls in more than $30 million… per year. Not too shabby.

#7: Kobe Bryant - $360 Million

Coming in, fittingly, at number 8 is the Black Mamba himself. Bryant accrued his wealth by dominating the NBA, and we do mean dominating. With five championship wins, two NBA Finals Most Valuable Player awards, a regular season MVP trophy, and a slew of other honors, Kobe more than earned his two-year $48.5 million dollar contract extension in 2013. Nike’s also thrown plenty of money his way through shoe deals. Oh and then there was cash from Sprite, McDonalds, Nutella, Vitamin Water, merch sales… you get the picture. Even in retirement, it looks like the Kobe brand will only keep going and his bank account will keep growing.

#6: Magic Johnson - $500 Million

This NBA titan clearly earned his nickname on the court, securing glory for the Lakers by helping them win five championships. He also dominated individually, claiming three NBA Finals MVP Awards, in addition to other chart-topping MVP or All-Star titles. Since then, he’s proven to be Magic in the business world as well, and that’s where his net worth of $500 million comes from. Through his conglomerate, Magic Johnson Enterprises, Johnson has made savvy investments with major companies like Starbucks, Burger King, and Sodexo, to name a few. Johnson invests in urban development, and has reaped lucrative benefits as a result, even lending a hand and a dollar towards HIV/AIDS awareness.

#5: LeBron James - $425 Million

Drafted right out of high school, an 18 year old LeBron James signed a deal with Nike worth $90 million, and since then he’s more than lived up to the hype. The Akron Hammer started off with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and after making “the decision” to join the Heat for four years, he ultimately came back home to the Cavs, and remains their best scorer of all time. We all know that King James can clearly throw down on the court, but he’s also a savvy businessman. LeBron has expanded into entertainment with his promising media company, Uninterrupted, so we’re sure to be seeing his face for a while. But the focus today is on the dollars and, all told, James is said to be worth $425 million.

#4: Tiger Woods - $700 Million

You can make mad money in the golf world. Okay, we’re all aware of Tiger’s scandalous love life circa 2009, and we all know he lost a ton of sponsors in the fallout. But at the end of the day that didn’t make much of a dent in his bank account – even after the divorce. Tiger was the face of golf, and boy did he make some serious bank in his heyday. Even if other companies cut ties with him, Nike still earns him $20 million annually. Then there’s also watch companies Rolex and TAG Heuer, Upper Deck… And don’t forget that video game he had that made golf... sorta... cool. All of it adds up to make him a very, very rich man.

#3: Michael Schumacher - $780 Million

There may be good money in NASCAR, but Formula One is where the real money is at, and there, Schumacher reigned supreme. A seven-time world champion, he is the most decorated driver in F1 history and has been paid accordingly. Unfortunately, a 2013 skiing accident tragically ended Schumacher’s racing career. But when he was in his prime, Schumacher was reported to have had a salary of $80 million dollars, and his sponsorships were borderline ludicrous. One, Deutsche Vermogensberatung, even paid him $8 million over three years just to put a miniscule logo on the brim of his hat. 8 mil for that! Just think of the money he earned from the rest of the hat.

#2: Floyd Mayweather Jr. - $650 Million

If ever there were an athlete who’s synonymous with money, it’s Floyd. Seriously, his nickname is literally “Money,” and he inspired the brand “The Money Team.” Unlike the other athletes on this list, Mayweather actually earns less money through promotions, with most of his wealth coming straight from the sport of boxing. With his undefeated record, “Money” justifiably demands enormous sums for his pay-per-view fights, which companies like Showtime are more than willing to dish out because everyone – and we mean everyone – tunes in to watch him defeat his next opponent. Consider this: for his win against Manny Pacquiao in 2015, Mayweather earned approximately $240 million dollars. That’s just one night of work!

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
$300 Million

- Cristiano Ronaldo
$310 Million

#1: Michael Jordan - $1.14 Billion

No surprise here, just look down at your sneakers... yep, that’s why “His Airness” is number one. In addition to his dominance as a player and his status as arguably the greatest of all time, MJ’s endorsement deal with Nike and the creation of the Air Jordan brand have transcended the sports world, becoming a part of mainstream culture and remaining popular for over three decades. Air Jordan is a billion dollar venture for Nike, earning MJ a pretty penny as well. But that’s not it for Jordan: he starred in “Space Jam,” which earned $230 million at the box office, and he’s the majority stakeholder in the Charlotte Hornets, which pushed his net worth over a billion dollars. He’s a slam dunk for #1!

Do you agree with our list? Who’s your favorite rich athlete? For more entertaining top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.

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