The richest athletes in the world have always had more than just technical skill, agility and speed — their record-breaking wealth doesn’t just come from world titles or being inducted into the hall of fame. Many of the world’s wealthiest sports stars earned their way to the top. From lucrative endorsement deals to massive salaries and bonuses, professional sports have long been a pathway to immense wealth for the world’s top athletes. While most athletes will never see the financial success enjoyed by Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods, there are still plenty of high-earning superstars in the sports world today.
Although some of these athletes are now retired, they’ve kept their net worths growing to stay among the richest.
Phil Mickelson Net Worth: $300M
With 45 wins on the PGA Tour, five of which were major championships, it’s no shock household name Phil Mickelson is on this list. With $92 million in career winnings, Mickelson is only second to Tiger Woods when it comes to the most career earnings in golf. Not to mention, he rakes in $50 million a year from brand deals with companies like Amgen and Rolex.
Shaquille O’Neal Net Worth: $400M
In the early 2000s, Shaquille O’Neal dominated the NBA, winning the NBA Finals MVP in 2000, 2001 and 2002 while playing for the Los Angeles Lakers. Although he has been retired for a while now, he rakes in millions through entrepreneurship, talk show hosting and endorsement deals — he has an annual salary of around $60 million thanks to those endorsements and other endeavors. In 2019, the 7-foot-1-inch star joined Papa John’s board of directors and became the face of the controversial pizza franchise.
Jack Nicklaus Net Worth: $400M
Jack Nicklaus is widely considered to be the greatest golfer of all time, and this title is well-deserved. He won 18 major championships — three more than Tiger Woods. Since retiring, Nicklaus has built something of an empire. The Nicklaus Companies have ice cream, wine and art products, as well as having built 410 golf courses. Nicklaus’ company partners with The Honda Classic, AriZona Beverage Company and Rolex, to name a few. His determination has made him an excellent golfer and a lucrative businessman, earning his rightful spot as one of the greatest and richest athletes.
Greg Norman Net Worth: $400M
Australian golf pro Greg Norman spent 331 weeks ranked as the No. 1 golfer in the world, winning two major championships. He retired in 2001 when he was inducted into the hall of fame with $705 million in total career earnings. Norman has since founded the Greg Norman Company, which compiles a large variety of specialty companies including, but not limited to, golf course design, real estate, eyewear and beef jerky.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. Net Worth: $450M
It’s no surprise boxing champ Floyd Mayweather Jr. is one of the richest athletes of all time, as he was Forbes’ highest-paid athlete of 2015 with a $300 million salary. The Michigan native has an astounding professional record of 50 wins and zero losses. Mayweather retired in 2015, but he returned to the sport in 2017 to defeat MMA star Conor McGregor — a win that earned him approximately $275 million.
David Beckham Net Worth: $450M
David Beckham is one of the highest-paid athletes of all time, and rightly so. He’s proven that not just anybody can bend it like he can. The superstar began his professional soccer career at 17. During his career, Beckham earned a total of $800 million, but he’s earned even more in retirement thanks to brand deals, endorsements and business ventures with his business group, Beckham Miami United. Through that group, he owns Miami United, a Major League Soccer franchise.
Cristiano Ronaldo Net Worth: $500M
Five-time FIFA player of the year and leading goal scorer in UEFA Champions League, there’s no doubt Ronaldo is one of the greatest and wealthiest soccer players of all time. According to Forbes, Ronaldo is the second-highest-paid athlete of 2020 with a salary of $60 million on his new team, Juventus, and he earned $45 million in endorsements to boot. He has signed a lifetime brand deal with Nike that is believed to be worth $1 billion.
Roger Federer Net Worth: $550M
Often regarded as the greatest male tennis player, Roger Federer set the record for the oldest player to rank No. 1 in 2018 at the ripe old age of 36. Federer has amassed $129 million in total career winnings, but his endorsements and sponsorships with brands, including Rolex and Mercedes-Benz, are what push his net worth to $450 million. In addition, he recently signed a 10-year deal worth $300 million with clothing brand Uniqlo.
Eddie Jordan Net Worth: $600M
Eddie Jordan, who drove kart cars in Ireland, is the founder and owner of Jordan Grand Prix, a successful Formula One racing team. He sold the team in 2005 and is currently an F1 broadcaster for the BBC.
LeBron James Net Worth: $600M
Basketball megastar LeBron James is a four-time NBA MVP, has the most lucrative brand deals in the NBA and has endorsement partnerships with Nike, Beats by Dre, Coca-Cola, Samsung and more.
James signed a four-year,$153 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018. Off the court, however, James is even more successful and quite philanthropic. He’s a part owner of the Blaze Pizza franchise; and he founded the LeBron James Family Foundation — an organization that advocates for education and opened an elementary school in 2018.
Roger Staubach Net Worth: $600M
Football-player-turned-businessman Roger Staubach first rose to fame when he won the Heisman Trophy while attending the U.S. Naval Academy, and he proceeded to win Super Bowl VI and Super Bowl XII as the quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. Staubach worked as a real estate broker on the side (because what NFL MVP doesn’t have a side hustle), and when he retired in 1979, he devoted himself to his own company — the Staubach Company. In 2008, Staubach sold the company for $640 million.
Michael Schumacher Net Worth: $600M
One of the highest-paid athletes ever, Michael Schumacher is a seven-time Formula One World Champion and holds the Formula One record for most career wins. Tragically, Schumacher was involved in a skiing accident in 2013, suffered a traumatic brain injury and continues to receive treatment at his home.
Lionel Messi Net Worth: $600M
Lionel Messi is often referred to as today’s best soccer player — his only competitor for the title being Cristiano Ronaldo. Messi stands third on Forbes’ 2020 list of the highest-paid athletes with $104 million in earnings, a combination of his $72 million-a-year salary playing for Barcelona and his many top-tier endorsement deals, such as his lifetime partnership with Adidas. His income is well-deserved, though, as Messi has been FIFA’s player of the year six times.
Junior Bridgeman Net Worth: $600M
Junior Bridgeman, who played for 12 years in the NBA for the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers, made the majority of his fortune in fast-food franchises. Bridgeman famously took most of his $350,000 salary and invested it in Wendy’s franchises, and his wealth took off from there. He sold off his Wendy’s and Chili’s franchises in 2016.
Magic Johnson Net Worth: $620M
Earvin “Magic” Johnson is a former star of the Los Angeles Lakers. While on the team, he won five NBA championships and was the recipient of three MVP awards. He retired in 1996 and has been extremely successful in his entrepreneurial ventures. Johnson founded Magic Johnson Enterprises, where he has partnered with Sony Pictures and Starbucks. Continuing to be a dominating presence in sports, Johnson became a co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012 after purchasing the team for a record-breaking $2 billion.
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson Net Worth: $800M
Dwayne Johnson, more commonly referred to as “The Rock,” is a man of many talents. He won the national championship playing football at the University of Miami and he’s won eight WWE Championships. But his successes don’t stop there — “The Rock” is now a full-fledged Hollywood star. He’s hosted “Saturday Night Live” and starred in movies like “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” a number of “The Fast and the Furious” films and “Baywatch.” It’s clear the world is obsessed with Johnson, and it makes sense he’s one of the richest athletes alive.
Tiger Woods Net Worth: $800M
Despite his 2009 scandal that threatened his endorsements and sponsorship deals — and his marriage — Tiger Woods remains the richest golfer in the world. He won the 2019 Masters, his first major win in 11 years, and his current annual salary is $50 million. However, the majority of Woods’ fortune comes from endorsements with major brands, including Nike, Gatorade and American Express.
Anna Kasprzak Net Worth: $1B
This name might surprise you, as you might not have heard of Danish dressage rider Anna Kasprzak. The 32-year-old competed in the 2012 and 2016 Games for Denmark. Although she doesn’t have any Olympic medals, Kasprzak has earned medals in several European events.
So how did she become one of the youngest billionaires in the world? She is the granddaughter of Karl Toosbuy, the founder of the ECCO shoe company.
Ion Tiriac Net Worth: $1.2B
Romanian billionaire Ion Tiriac was a star in more than one sport. He competed in the 1964 Olympics as a member of the Romanian ice hockey team and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2013 with a total of 23 career titles. Since retiring as an athlete, Tiriac has become a business tycoon — he founded Banca Tiriac in 1990 and expanded his business empire to include numerous companies under Tiriac Holdings.
Michael Jordan Net Worth: $2.2B
Often regarded as the best basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan has an estimated net worth of $2.2 billion, according to CelebrityNetWorth.com. During his career, he led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships and earned a total salary of $90 million. His successes off the court, however, are what made him a billionaire. Along with starring in the fan-favorite movie “Space Jam,” Jordan owns the Charlotte Hornets and has sponsorship deals with Nike and Gatorade.
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George Malone contributed to the reporting for this article.
All net worths soured from Celebrity Net Worth and are accurate as of May 1, 2023.