You think celebrities are paid a ton? Well, you should look at pro athletes. Professional athletes have some of the most outrageous salaries on the planet. Forbes recently released their list of highest paid athletes – from NBA players and pro golfers to soccer players, football players and Nascar’s most elite.
Fernando Alonso: $36 Million
Fernando Alonso is fast. In fact, he’s so fast that he’s a double World Champion for Formula One racing. The 35-year-old has been racing since he was three years old (back then he was go-karting since three-year-olds aren’t old enough to get their licenses). He’s often regarded as the greatest Formula One driver in history, which is why his whopping $36 million salary includes $34 million in salary and bonuses and $2 million in endorsements.
Dwayne Wade: $36.2 Million
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Dwayne Wade has been shooting hoops for the NBA since he was drafted in 2003 by the Miami Heat after a successful college career. He’s so fantastic that he played on the All-Star team 12 seasons in a row and led the Miami Heat to their first NBA championship ever in 2006. Wade is a highly-coveted player who rakes in a third of his money through endorsement deals. From 2006 to 2007 he had the top-selling jersey in the NBA. There’s no denying that Wade sells tickets, which is why he rakes in $23.2 million in salary and bonuses and $13 million in endorsements.
Neymar: $37 Million
Neymar da Silva Santos Junior, who typically goes by his first name Neymar, is a killer soccer player for FC Barcelona and Brazil’s national team. The footballer has been playing well before his professional debut at the ripe, young age of 17, and thanks to his foot work, the club won two Campeonato Paulista championships, one Copa do Brasil and the 2011 Copa Libertadores. Neymar has racked up 52 goals in 77 matches for Brazil and is the fourth-highest goal-scorer for the national team. This comes with a pretty hefty paycheck. Surprisingly, though, Neymar makes a whole lot more in endorsements than he does in salary. His salary is just $15 million, but his endorsements pull in $22 million.
Tiger Woods: $37.1 Million
Tiger Woods won’t let a scandal bring him down. In 2010, after his highly publicized sex scandal, the pro golfer lost $22 million in endorsements from brands like Gatorade, AT&T and Accenture. Woods has managed to bounce back, even with his recent DUI in January, though not nearly to the level he was making before. Before losing his endorsement deals in 2010, Woods raked in $92 million. In 2017, he’s dropped from the highest paid American athlete to the seventeenth highest paid. That’s nothing to scoff at, though. Woods is still making more money than we can even comprehend with $107,000 off of prize winnings and $37 million in endorsements.
Novak Djokovic: $37.6 Million
Tennis player Novak Djokovic is arguably one of the greatest tennis players of all time. He’s pulled in 12 Grand Slam singles titles, six Australian Open wins, three Wimbledon titles, two US Open titles and one French Open title. He was also the either player in history to get the Career Grand Slam when he won the French Open in 2016 and the third man to hold all four major titles at one time. Of course, with great skill comes tons of money. Djokovic’s massive $37.6 million paycheck can be attributed to $9.6 million in prize money and a whopping $28 million in endorsements.
Damian Lillard: $38.4 Million
Damian Lillard has played for the Trail Blazers his entire professional basketball career, but great loyalty has nothing to do with a lack of skill. In 2012, Lillard won the NBA Rookie of the Year award in a unanimous vote and has been named NBA All-Star two times. In 2015, Lillard upped the ante by signing a five-year $120 million contract extension with the Trail Blazers, and became the first Trail Blazer since Clyde Drexler to record 600 points and 150 assists during the first 25 games. His skill is highly valued and he’s more than compensated for it. Lillard pulls in $24.4 million in salary from the NBA and has $14 million in endorsements.
Sebastian Vettel: $38.5 Million
Sebastian Vettel is one of only four Formula One drivers to have won four or more drivers’ titles. In 2008, he became the youngest person to win the 2008 Italian Grand Prix and finished his 2009 season as the youngest-ever World Drivers’ Championship runner-up. A year later, he became the youngest driver to win the World Drivers’ Championship at age 23. He also won the Formula One championship in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 with Red Bull Racing. Currently, he drives for Scuderia Ferrari and is signed on until at least the end of 2017, but that signing equates to a huge paycheck. Vettel gets $38 million in salary and bonuses with $500,000 in endorsements.
Russell Westbrook: $38.6 Million
NBA players are some of the highest-paid athletes in the world, and Russell Westbrook is one of the most elite. Westbrook currently plays for the Oklahoma City Thunder and is a six-time NBA All-Star and two-time NBA All-Star MVP. Westbrook holds a couple records which definitely contribute to his massive payday. Recently, he became one of two players in history to average a triple-double (when you get double digits in three out of five game stats including points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocked shots). Westbrook’s massive payday includes a $26.6 million salary and $12 million in endorsements.
Phil Mickelson: $43.5 Million
Phil Mickelson has surpassed Tiger Woods as one of the highest paid golfers. The pro-athlete has won 42 separate events on the PGA tour including three Masters titles, a PGA championship and an Open Championship. He’s one of just a handful of players to win three of the four major titles and has won every single major title except the U.S. open (maybe next time?). Mickelson’s amazing talent led him to become the 2nd player in the Official World Golf Ranking and a life-time member of the PGA Tour. Currently, Mickelson dropped out of the top 10, but his payroll has not. He pulls in $3.5 million in prize money and a whopping $40 million in endorsements.
Drew Brees: $45.3 Million
The National Football League handsomely rewards their top players with insanely high salaries. Drew Brees, quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, is definitely rewarded for his hard work and talent. Brees started in college playing for Perdue University when he was drafted by the San Diego Chargers. He was their first pick of the second round and left with two NCAA records, 13 Big Ten Conference records and 19 Purdue University Records. In 2006, he was traded to the New Orleans Saints and signed a six year deal worth $60 million. Brees currently pulls in $31.3 million a year in salary and bonuses from the NFL and $14 million in endorsements.
Lewis Hamilton: $46 Million
Lewis Hamilton is another Formula One racecar driver with a huge payday. He currently drives for Mercedes AMG Petronas and is a three-time Formula One World Champion. Hamilton has had a long career of success, winning his first title in 2008 before he jumped over to Mercedes’ team. He won back-to-back titles in 2014 and 2015 and has the most titles out of any British driver in history. Hamilton’s hard work paid off because he pulls in more money than almost any other Formula One driver. Hamilton’s salary is around $38 million and he has $8 million in endorsements.
James Harden: $46.6 Million
The bearded basketballer James Harden is one of the NBA’s most coveted players. He started his career as a top-notch Houston Rockets teammate in college when he played for Arizona State. He was the third overall pick in 2009 draft, where he was picked up by the Oklahoma City Thunder. His work helped the team reach the NBA finals, but he was traded to Houston in 2012. Harden has five All-Star nods and was named MVP of the NBA in 2015. Needless to say, the dude has a lot of dough. His NBA salary is $26.6 million and he has $20 million in endorsements.
Andrew Luck: $50 Million
Pro football player Andrew Luck is an award-winning quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts. He started his career like most professional football players – in college, where he played for Stanford and won a Maxwell and Walter Camp award. He was the college’s player of the year and runner up for the Heisman Trophy in 2010 and 2011. In 2010, Sports Illustrated named him “the most NFL-ready of all draft-eligible quarterback prospects” and the “the best quarterback since Peyton Manning.” Luck was the Colts’ first overall draft pick. In 2016, Luck signed a contract extension worth $140 million with $87 million guaranteed. This led to $47 million in salary in 2016 and $3 million in endorsements.
Rory McIlroy: $50 Million
Rory McIlroy may not be as highly paid in salary as Andrew Luck, but the golfer rakes in nearly as much because of endorsements. McIlroy was ranked as number one in the Official World Golf Ranking for 95 long weeks. He’s won four major championships including the 2011 U.S. Open, the 2012 PGA Championship, and the 2014 Open and PGA Championships. He even was successful as an amateur topping the World Amateur Golf Ranking for a week when he was just 17 years old. McIlroy pulled in $16 million in prize money in 2016 and a whopping $34 million in endorsements.
Kevin Durant: $60.6 Million
It’s hard to tell exactly what makes Kevin Durant so rich. His endorsements alone are worth tons more than most people make in their entire lives. Durant currently plays for the Golden State Warriors and is one of the best basketball players in the NBA and has won numerous awards including an NBA championship, NBA MVP, Bill Russell NBA Final MVP, NBA All-Star Game MVP and four NBA scoring titles. He’s been picked for seven All-NBA teams and eight All-Star teams. As far as payment goes, Durant is one of the richest. He pulls in $26.6 million from the Warriors and $34 million from endorsements.
Roger Federer: $64 Million
Roger Federer is one of the most famous tennis players in the world, which is perhaps why his endorsements make up most of his insanely gigantic payday. Federer pulls in a whopping $58 million in endorsements, more than anyone else on Forbes’ list of highest-paid athletes. His prize money is a paltry $6 million in comparison, but even that wouldn’t be possible without immense talent. He’s won 19 Grand Slam singles titles, which is the most for any male player in history. He’s also held the world top spot in the Association of Tennis Professionals rankings for a record 302 weeks.
Stephen Curry: $69.7 Million
Stephen Curry is another highly-paid NBA star who currently shoots hoops for the Golden State Warriors. In 2014, Curry was the NBA’s MVP, and his talent helped lead the Warriors to their first championship in over 30 years. He became the first player in history to be elected MVP by a unanimous vote, and with his help, the Warriors had a record number of wins. In 2017, the team entered the finals for the third year in a row and won the NBA championship. Basketball runs in Curry’s family. His dad, Dell Curry, and his brother Seth Curry, both played in the NBA, so of course Stephen knows his worth. What is his worth exactly? $34.7 million in salary and a whopping $35 million in endorsements.
Lionel Messi: $80 Million
Lionel Messi is truly one of the best soccer players in the world, and for that, he makes a ton of money. He’s the third highest-paid athlete of 2017 and an all-star forward for FC Barcelona and the Argentina national team. Messi has won 29 trophies with Barcelona and holds the record for most official goals scored in La Liga (349 goals), a La Liga season (50 goals) and a calendar year (91 goals) and a club football season in Europe (73 goals). The pro-footballer pulls in $53 million in salary and bonuses and $27 million in endorsements making his totally cash haul $80 million.
LeBron James: $86.2 Million
LeBron James is ridiculously rich, and a huge part of that is from his endorsements. Everyone wants a piece of LeBron, and his endorsements from brands like Coca-Cola, Nike, Upper Deck, Samsung and Dunkin Donuts have brought him $55 million. LeBron James is arguably the most famous NBA player who’s not retired and has won three NBA championships and four NBA MVP awards. He’s also got something most of his fellow NBA stars don’t have – two Olympic gold medals. That’s right, LeBron isn’t just an NBA star, but he’s an Olympic athlete. James pulls in $31.2 million from the NBA, and when combined with his endorsement deals, it makes him the second highest paid athlete in the world.
Cristiano Ronaldo: $93 Million
Cristiano Ronaldo isn’t just the highest paid professional soccer player – he’s the highest paid athlete in the world. The footballer plays as a forward for Real Madrid and the Portugal national team. He has more FIFA Ballon d’Or awards than any other European player and is the first player in history to win four European Golden Shoes. Throughout his career, Ronaldo has won 22 trophies which includes five league titles and four UFFA Champions League titles. He also holds the record for most official goals scored in the top five European leagues (369 goals), the UEFA Champions league (105 goals) and the UEFA European Championship (29 goals). Because of his massive success, Ronaldo pulls in $58 million from playing soccer and $35 million for endorsements.