Who are the richest athletes in the world? Which athletes are billionaires? Tiger Woods, Floyd Mayweather, Michael Jordan… I'm sure you can guess some of the top names, but who has the highest net worth as of April 2020?
Here's a quick spoiler/surprise: The person who has historically been the richest athlete in the world is a retired Romanian tennis player you've never heard of and wouldn't recognize if you bumped into him on the street. That Romanian tennis player, Ion Tiriac, was the first billionaire athlete in history. He is still a billionaire, but no longer rich enough to be #1 on this list.
So who grabbed the top slot? Let's take a look at the top 25 richest athletes on the planet:
#25: Grant Hill Net Worth: $250 million
Hill began his NBA career in 1994 with the Detroit Pistons. He went on to play for teams including the Orlando Magic, the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Clippers, retiring after the 2013 season. During his lengthy NBA career, Grant earned $140 million in salary alone and another roughly $120 million from endorsements. This includes a seven-year $80 million deal with Fila, which was the largest shoe contract in history up to that point. He continued his partnership with Fila with a lifetime deal in 2018 that will pay him upwards of $10 million per year.
#24: Gary Player Net Worth: $250 million
One of the most respected PGA golfers, Player is the third most winning golfer in the history of the PGA. His net worth is largely tied to his business interests, which are exclusively represented by Black Knight International. His business ventures include his work as a golf course architect, as well as licensing, events, publishing, wine, apparel and memorabilia. Black Knight International also handles all of his endorsements and merchandising activities. Additionally, over the course of his career he has pledged $100 million to the underprivileged in his home country, South Africa.
#23: Lewis Hamilton Net Worth: $285 million
Between June 2016 and June 2017, Hamilton earned around $50 million from endorsements and prize money. Between June 2017 and June 2018, he earned $51 million. In 2018, he signed a two-year contract extension to continue to drive for Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, with an expected annual base salary upwards of $30 million. He has personal endorsement deals with brands such as Mercedes-Benz, Monster Energy, Puma, IWC, Sony, Bombardier, Bell Helmets and MV Agusta Motorcycles. He also has an ongoing partnership with fashion label Tommy Hilfiger, releasing several capsule collections with the brand.
#22: George Foreman Net Worth: $300 million
Very little of Foreman's net worth actually comes from boxing. After turning professional in 1969 and winning 76 out of 81 fights, by the 1980s his net worth was still a relatively small $5 million. The majority of his net worth comes from his various business ventures, including most notably the grill that bears his name. Other goods he has promoted include Meineke mufflers and the George Foreman Lean Mean Fat Reducing Grilling Machine, and he is also a partner in the Panther Racing Indy Car team.
#21: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Net Worth: $300 million
At the peak of his career Dale earned $25 -30 million per year. Roughly $22 million of that amount was earned through endorsements. His primary sponsor throughout his career was Bud Light. He also had endorsement deals with Kraft, Drakkar, Chevy, Gillette, EA Sports, Pennzoil and Wrangler. By the time Dale retired in 2017, he had earned $410 million during his career through endorsements and winnings. He also has several businesses outside of racing, including media production company Hammerhead Entertainment, and he is a partial owner of Paducah International Raceway.
#20: The Rock Dwayne Johnson Net Worth: $320 million
Johnson made his WWF debut in 1996 as Rocky Maivia, a heroic character, before turning into villain character The Rock in 1997. He began his acting career in 2001, and began focusing on it full-time in 2004. Most of his net worth comes from his acting pursuits, between June 2017 and June 2018, he earned $125 million, making him by far the highest paid actor on the planet. Thanks to his massive social media following, The Rock also contractually demands as much as $4 million to promote his own movies, on top of salary and backend points. He has endorsements with brands such as Apple, Ford and Under Armor.
#19: Jack Nicklaus Net Worth: $320 million
Considered to be one of the greatest golf players of all, Nicklaus has won the PGA tour 73 times, the Champions Tour 10 times and the Masters Tournament six times during his 25-year-long career. Nicklaus has remained a driving force off the course. Primarily, he has actively involved himself in golf course design, charity work and book writing. Jack Nicklaus is the founder and host of "The Memorial Tournament," as well as he runs one of the world's leading golf course design companies.
#18: Alex Rodriguez Net Worth: $350 million
During his baseball career, Rodriguez played for the Seattle Mariners and the Texas Rangers, but he is best known for his time with the New York Yankees, where he played from 2004 until his retirement in 2017. During his career, he earned $441 million in baseball salary alone and signed several contracts that were the largest in sports history at the time. At his peak he earned $33 million per year in salary. Outside of sports, Rodriguez is a real estate investor through his A-Rod Corp.
#17: Vinnie Johnson Net Worth: $400 million
Johnson, a retired professional basketball player, spent his career playing for the Seattle SuperSonics, the Detroit Pistons, and the San Antonio Spurs, before retiring in 1992. During his career, he spent over a decade playing with the Pistons, winning two championships with them. After retiring from the NBA, he founded Piston automotive, which is now one of the largest auto parts suppliers in America. The company employs more than 200 people and generates more than $2 billion per year in revenue.
#16: Shaquille O'Neal Net Worth: $400 million
During his professional basketball career, O'Neal played with the Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Boston Celtics. Notable contracts of his include a seven-year $121 million deal he signed with the Lakers, and his five-year $100 million contract with the Miami Heat. In 2019, he joined the Board of Directors of pizza company Papa Johns, which is reported to earn him $8.25 million in salary and stock over three years. He also invested $840,000 buying 30% of a 9-unit franchise of Papa Johns in Atlanta.
As of 2020, Shaq's net worth is $400 million.
#15: Phil Mickelson Net Worth: $400 million
During the course of his professional golf career, Mickelson has won four Major Championships, earning over $87 million in tournament prizes. In a given year he earned around roughly $60 million, of which $10 million came from salary and tournament winnings and an astonishing additional $50 million in endorsements. His biggest endorsements are with KPMG, ExxonMobil, Titleist, Ford, Enbrel, Callaway, Amgen, Grayhawk, Rolex and Intrepid Financial Partners. He has earned more than $700 million off the golf course from endorsements during his career, which means he has earned around $900 million in total during his career as of 2020.
#14: Lionel Messi Net Worth: $400 million
Argentinian-born professional footballer earned his net worth as the striker and winger of the FC Barcelona, and the Argentinian National Team. He is one of the highest paid soccer players in the world. Under his previous contract, his annual base salary was $44.68 million. In 2017 he signed a new contract with Barcelona that pays a base salary of $80 million. Additionally, he earns $40 million every year from endorsements. He has a lifetime endorsement deal with Adidas, and has also done commercials for brands like Herbalife.
#13: Greg Norman Net Worth: $400 million
Australian golfer Norman was the very first golfer to pass $10 million in career earnings. He was the tour money leader in 1986, 1990 and 1995. Outside of golf, he has numerous business interests. He established the Greg Norman Gold Course Design company in 1987, and began investing in the wine industry by launching Greg Norman Estates in 1996. All of his business interests are managed under the company Great White Shark Enterprises. Additionally, he founded the Greg Norman Company in 1993, and sold it for a $40 million profit five years later.
#12: Roger Federer Net Worth: $450 million
Federer is a widely-recognized top tennis player, having won Wimbledon 8 time, the Australian Open 6 times, the French Open once and the US Open 5 times. Federer's total ATP career earnings were $124 million as of July 2019. He is one of the highest paid athletes in the world both on and off the court. Between June 2017 and June 2018, Federer earned $77.2 million. Between June 2018 and June 2019 he earned $94 million. Of that amount, roughly $86 million came from endorsements with companies like Credit Suisse, Rolex and Mercedes Benz.
#11: David Beckham Net Worth: $450 million
Beckham's net worth is a combined net worth with his wife, singer/designer Victoria Beckham. Over the course of his professional soccer career he played for Manchester United, Real Madrid, the Los Angeles Galaxy and Paris Saint-Germain. Over his final six seasons in the MLS with the L.A. Galaxy, David Beckham earned an estimated $255 million including salary, revenue sharing, endorsements, appearances, and licensing. He has represented brands such as Pepsi, Calvin Klein, Adidas, Vodafone and Gillette. Additionally, with his wife he owns an extensive real estate portfolio with properties around the world.
#10: Cristiano Ronaldo Net Worth: $460 million
Portuguese-born Ronaldo is one of the top-earning soccer players in the world. After spending 9 years with Real Madrid, in 2018 Cristiano Ronaldo signed a four-year deal with Juventus that pays a base salary of $64 million. Off the field he earns an additional $40 million from endorsements. Between June 2017 and June 2018, Cristiano earned $108 million, $61 million through salary and $47 million from endorsements. Additionally, in November 2016 he signed a $1 billion "lifetime" deal with Nike, with a reported $100 million signing bonus.
#9: Eddie Jordan Net Worth: $475 million
A former professional racing driver, the majority of Jordan's net worth comes from his position as founder and owner of the racing team Jordan Grand Prix, which competed from 1991 to 2005. He also founded the team Eddie Jordan Racing, which he sold to Midland Group in 2005 for between 40 to 75 million euros. His other business interests include investments in the vodka brand Vodka V10, energy drink brand EJ-10, and Bulgarian property company Madara Capital. He joined the show "Top Gear" as a presenter in 2016, and is also an analyst for Channel 4's "C4F1" program.
#8: LeBron James Net Worth: $480 million
During his first 10 seasons in the NBA, LeBron James earned just over $126 million in salary alone. During that same time period he earned an estimated $326 million from endorsements. Every year, James earns around $40 million in salary from the NBA and roughly $55 million from endorsements. That brings his total annual income to roughly $100 million. He has endorsement deals with major companies such as McDonalds, Microsoft, State Farm, Beats by Dre and Samsung. Additionally, he signed the first lifetime endorsement deal Nike has ever offered in December 2015, reportedly to be worth more than $1 billion.
#7: Floyd Mayweather Net Worth: $505 million
As of 2020, Mayweather's total career earnings top $1.1 billion. This achievement is particularly notable because he has managed to top $1 billion in earnings with relatively few endorsements deals, making most of his money from just two fights. He earned $250 million from his 2015 fight against Manny Pacquiao, and $300 million from his 2017 fight against Conor McGregor. Outside of the ring, he typically earns a relatively scant amount of money from endorsements, compared to his typical earnings of $150-$300 million a year when he is fighting. Floyd is 5th highest-paid athlete of all time and one of just six athletes whose career earnings have topped $1 billion.
As of 2020, Floyd Mayweather's net worth is $505 million.
#6: Roger Staubach Net Worth: $600 million
A retired American football quarterback, Staubach spent his entire ten-year professional NFL career playing for the Dallas Cowboys. He led the team to victories in the Super Bowl VI and Super Bowl XII. After retiring from playing, he worked as a sports commentator and founded commercial real estate business the Staubach Company, which worked with major businesses such as AT&T, McDonalds, and K-Mart Corporation. He now serves as the executive chairman of professional services and investment management company Jones Lang LaSalle, which had purchased the Staubach Company in 2008.
#6: Junior Bridgeman Net Worth: $600 million
Junior Bridgeman played 12 seasons in the NBA after being drafted 8th overall in 1975. He had a notable but somewhat under-the-radar career. For nine consecutive seasons he averaged double figures in scoring. He holds the Milwaukee franchise record for number of games played at 711, though he only started in 105 of those games. His peak salary, $350,000, came in 1985 from the Clippers. After leaving the NBA, on a whim Junior bought a Wendy's franchise. He slowly expanded over the next few years, building out what would become Bridgeman Foods Inc. Fast forward a few decades and Junior owns more than 160 Wendy's and 120 Chili's franchises, employing more than 11,000 people. His empire generates more than $500 million per year in revenue.
#5: Michael Schumacher Net Worth: $600 million
Former racer Schumacher's career spanned from 1991 to 2006. He won the Formula One world driver's championship seven times, and is widely considered to be one of the most successful Formula One drivers of all time. He is also one of the highest-paid athletes of all time. At the peak of his career, he was paid $10 million per year by Shell to wear a hat with the company's logo at nearly all public appearances. At his peak he earned $80-100 million per year. Even in years that he was not racing, he earned $50 million just from endorsements alone. He is one of just six athletes in history who have earned more than $1 billion from their sport alone (basically not including outside investments like ownership stakes in NBA teams). Michael earned $1 billion in salary and endorsements during his illustrious career.
#4: Magic Johnson Net Worth: $600 million
Former professional basketball player Johnson played for the Los Angeles Lakers for 13 seasons. During his playing career, Magic earned just over $18 million in salary and several million more in endorsements. Today he oversees a business empire under Magic Johnson Enterprises that is valued at well over $1 billion. The majority of his fortune comes from his business ventures, which include a movie studio, movie theater chain and a promotional marketing company. He has also invested in sports teams, purchasing the Los Angeles Dodgers with a group of partners in 2012 for $2 billion.
#3: Tiger Woods Net Worth: $800 million
Woods is the highest-earning golfer of all time, with career earnings topping $1.65 billion since he turned professional in 1996. His main sources of revenue are tournament winnings and product endorsements. His earnings of $118 million on the golf course amount to 7.6% of his total career earnings, but his endorsements account for 92.4% of his earnings. He has endorsed brands such as Nike, Gatorade, American Express, Rolex, Gillette, Tag Heuer, and Buick. Just his Gatorade deal was worth $100 million over 5 years, and between 1997 and 2005 he earned $140 million from Nike endorsements.
As of this writing Tiger Woods' net worth is $800 million. And that's AFTER he paid ex-wife Elin a $100+ million divorce settlement.
#2: Ion Tiriac Net Worth: $1.2 billion
Romanian former professional tennis player Ion Tiriac had a very respectable career in the late 70s and early 80s. After winning 22 career titles as a doubles player and being ranked #19 in doubles tennis, he retired and became a coach for players like Ilie Năstase and, most importantly, Boris Becker. Ion orchestrated Boris Becker's ascent to become the #1 ranked player in the world. Working with Boris in early 90s Germany exposed Ion to western business practices that would soon sweep the former USSR.
In 1990 Ion established Banca Tiriac. It was Romania's first private bank. He then went on to launch retail businesses, auto dealerships, an airline and an insurance company. He also owns a large residential and commercial real estate portfolio. Today his empire includes Tiriac Holdings, TiriacAIR, HVB Tiriac Bank, Allianz-Tiriac Asigurari Romania, TiriacAuto, Tiriac Leasing, and Tir Travel.
He first became a billionaire officially in 2007. Ion Tiriac's personal fortune ultimately peaked at over $2 billion. That was more than enough to make him the richest athlete in the world for the last decade. Unfortunately over the last few years, and in recent months in particular, Ion's fortunes have been hit by a number of business headwinds, reducing his net worth to $1.2 billion as of this writing. At the same time, Michael Jordan's fortunes have soared…
#1: Michael Jordan Net Worth: $2.2 billion
Michael Jordan was the first athlete to earn over $30 million per year in salary. When he earned $33.14 million from the Chicago Bulls for the 1997-1998 season, that was the same as earning $53.4 million in today's dollars. He "only" ever earned a total of $93 million in NBA salary. As you know, he has also earned an enormous sum of money through endorsement deals with companies like Hanes, Gatorade, McDonald's, Upper Deck, MCI and many more. But it was his Nike Air Jordan partnership that has earned Michael a truly stunning amount of money, even nearly two decades after he retired from sports professionally. Every year to this day he earns $80-$100 million in Nike shoe royalties. In total Michael has earned at least $1.4 billion from endorsements before taxes to date.
But even after earning $1.5 billion from salary and endorsements, Michael wasn't done building his empire. In 2006 he bought a minority stake in what was then known as the Charlotte Bobcats. The team changed its name to the Charlotte Hornets in 2014, the same year Michael paid $175 million for a majority ownership stake in the team. His stake was just under 90%. At this time the Hornets overall were worth at least $600 million. After team debt was removed and his other assets were included, Michael officially achieved billionaire status for the first time,
In 2019 he sold a minority portion of his stake to a group of hedge fund managers at an overall team valuation of $1.5 billion. Immediately after this transaction closed, Michael's net worth was $1.9 billion.
As of April 2020, Michael Jordan's net worth is $2.2 billion.
*** Kobe Bryant ***
As we all know, Kobe Bryant tragically died on January 26, 2020 in a helicopter crash at the age of 41. At the time of his death, Kobe Bryant's net worth was $600 million. If he were still alive today, Kobe would be one of the five richest athletes on the planet.
During his career Kobe earned $328 million in salary alone and $350 million from endorsements for a total of $680 million. He was also an early investor in a sports drink company called Bodyarmor. He purchased a 10% stake in the company in 2014 for $6 million. In 2018 Coca Cola purchased a stake in Bodyarmor that valued the company as a whole at $2 billion. That meant Kobe's $6 million investment was worth $200 million, on paper, before taxes.
Who Was The Richest Athlete In History?
So does Michael Jordan's $2.2 billion fortune make him the richest athlete in human history? Technically no. Not by a long shot. That accolade belongs to a Roman charioteer named Gaius Appuleius Diocles who lived in 104 AD. Diocles raced for nearly a quarter-century, finally retiring at age 42. He won 1,462 out of the 4,257 races he competed in. Diocles's pay was five times that of the wealthiest provincial governors of the same era. His earnings were also enough to provide grain for the entire city of Rome for a full year or pay every single soldier of the Roman Army at the strongest point of its imperial reach for more than two months.
Over the course of his career, Diocles reportedly won 35,863,120 sesterces. Adjusted for inflation, his total winnings would equal $15 billion.
So Michael still has something to shoot for! He just needs to make another $12.8 billion. If anyone can "just do it"… it's Michael Jordan.
As of April 2020, Michael Jordan is the richest athlete in the world with a net worth of $2.2 billion. He's followed by retired Romanian tennis player turned financier Ion Tiriac who is worth $1 billion. These are the 10 richest athletes in the world as of 2020:
- #1 Michael Jordan $2.2 billion
- #2 Ion Tiriac $1 billion
- #3 Tiger Woods $800 million
- #4 Magic Johnson $600 million
- #5 Michael Schumacher $600 million
- #6 Roger Staubach $600 million
- #7 Floyd Mayweather $505 million
- #8 LeBron James $480 million
- #9 Eddie Jordan $475 million
- #10 Cristiano Ronaldo $460 million