Professional athletes aren't wanting for rankings of their performance in their chosen sports –the competitive nature of sports makes such rankings beside the point in a way – but one ranking that doesn't get talked about as much as championship rings or batting averages is how much money they can pull in over the course of a year. Here are the top 10 highest-paid athletes in the world right now, and if you're reading this in the United States, you may be surprised by who occupies the top two slots (and the single sport they both represent).
#10. Kobe Bryant – $50 million
Kobe Bryant said goodbye to the NBA this year, and retirement has been pretty lucrative for him so far – in addition to his $25 million salary, he's also taking in another $25 million in endorsements, for a total of $50 million annually.
#9. Jordan Spieth – $52.8 million
Jordan Spieth suffered a pretty excruciating choke at the Masters earlier this year, but you wouldn't know it to look at his bank statement. His $52.8 million in earnings over the last 12 months includes a healthy $20.8 million in salary and winnings as well as $32 million worth of endorsements for brands like Under Armour, AT&T, Titleist, Perfect Sense, Rolex, NetJets and Super Strokes.
#8. Phil Mickelson – $52.9 million
Spieth came just short of being the biggest earner in golf, though, a title that is held by Phil Mickelson, even with his relatively paltry on-course earnings of just $2.9 million. He made up the ground and then some, though, thanks to $50 million in endorsement income over the last year.
#7. Cam Newton – $53.1 million
The first and only football player on this list is Cam Newton. He made it in, thanks to his $41.1 million annual salary with another $12 million in endorsements on top of that – making him the top earner in his sport.
#6. Novak Djokovic – $55.8 million
Novak Djokovic reached his share of financial milestones this year, including surpassing the legendary Roger Federer in career prize winnings. But he didn't quite make more than Federer this year, pulling in $55.8 million in total earnings from his on-court performance and endorsements.
#5. Kevin Durant – $56.2 million
The second basketball player on this list is Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Durant earned $20.2 million from the Thunder over the last year, with the other $36 million coming from his endorsement deals with Sprint, Nike, Gatorade, and more.
#4. Roger Federer – $67.8 million
Roger Federer's $60 million in endorsement deals is testament to his enduring name recognition, which also makes him one of the most famous people in tennis today. And the $7.8 million in prize winnings shows that he's still a force on the court as well – altogether, he is the biggest earner in tennis this year, by far.
#3. LeBron James – $77.2 million
To say LeBron James has had a good year would be a criminal understatement, but suffice it to say that in addition to his numerous other accomplishments, he's also not doing too badly when it comes to his finances. $23.2 million in well-earned salary plus $54 million in endorsements make him basketball's highest earner this year.
#2. Lionel Messi – $81.4 million
Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, so you'd have to be a stereotypically solipsistic American to be too shocked that the top two earners in sports this year are soccer players. Coming up first, is Lionel Messi, with $53.4 million in salary and $28 million in endorsements.
#1. Cristiano Ronaldo – $88 million
Soccer's highest earner, and by extension all of sports' highest earner, is none other than Cristiano Ronaldo over the last year. He achieved this with a $56 million salary (much higher than most of the other salaries on this list), and $32 million in endorsements from brands including Nike, Coke, Armani, KFC (!), and many more.