The richest athletes in the world have always had more than just agility and speed. They also tend to possess a great deal of business savvy to earn and maintain some of the biggest net worths in the sports industry.
These particular athletes don’t make all their money on the field or the court: On the contrary, a huge portion of their income comes from endorsements, investments, business ventures and more.
From basketball legends and golf greats to soccer stars and professional boxers, click through to learn about the wealthiest athletes in history.
14. Ayrton Senna Net Worth: $400M
Boasting a $400 million net worth, the late Brazilian race car driver Ayrton Senna is still considered one of the best Formula One drivers of all time. During his career, Senna won three world titles, 41 races and 65 pole positions.
Senna’s knack for driving began at a young age. His father built him his first go-kart, and at 13, Senna entered his first race. He died as a result of a car crash during a 1994 race. Although he was just 34 at the time of his death, Senna remains one of the richest athletes of all time.
13. LeBron James Net Worth: $440M
LeBron James is a four-time NBA MVP Award winner with nine NBA Finals appearances under his belt. He’s also one of the top-scoring players of all time, with over 31,000 career points. So it’s no wonder he’s paid handsomely for his on-the-court skills: James earned $33.5 million between June 2017 and June 2018 from his salary and winnings, Forbes reported.
Though his basketball earnings are impressive, “King James” actually makes more money off the court. With lucrative endorsement deals from Nike, Coca-Cola, Beats By Dre, Kia Motor, Intel and Blaze Pizza, James brought in an additional $52 million, Forbes reported. The basketball star was also an early investor in Blaze, plus he has his own production company and media company, and a 2 percent stake in Liverpool.
12. David Beckham Net Worth: $450M
Posh Spice’s husband transformed from soccer sensation to model, spokesperson and international superstar, earning enough money along the way to claim a spot on the list of the wealthiest athletes of all time.
The retired British soccer player reportedly had a base salary of $6.5 million when he signed with the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007. In addition to his annual payout, Beckham received a total of $50 million in endorsements over the span of five years. But he makes even more money in retirement, with Celebrity Net Worth estimating his latest net worth at $450 million.
11. Roger Federer Net Worth: $450M
One of the greatest athletes to pick up a racket, tennis legend Roger Federer remains one of the best in the game at 37. In fact, he became the oldest No. 1 player in history in February 2018.
Federer ranks seventh among the highest-paid athletes, according to Forbes’ 2018 rankings. Aside from his on-court winnings, the tennis star takes in millions in endorsements and appearance fees, helping push his net worth to $450 million.
10. Cristiano Ronaldo Net Worth: $450M
The FIFA Ballon d’Or award is given to the best soccer player in the world every year, and Cristiano Ronaldo has won it five times. He’s also a five-time UEFA Champions League winner. And he gets paid handsomely for his soccer prowess: Ronaldo signed a contract with Real Madrid that is set to pay him over $50 million for the next three years, Forbes reported, which makes him one of the world’s highest-paid soccer players.
It’s not just his soccer skills that are making him bank. Ronaldo also earned $47 million through endorsement deals with brands that include Herbalife and EA Sports, which helped him earn a spot on Forbes’ list of the world’s highest-paid athletes in 2018. His Nike contract alone is worth upwards of $1 billion, Forbes reported. Ronaldo is also extremely popular on social media, with the second-most Instagram followers after Selena Gomez as of June 2018, according to Statista.
9. Eddie Jordan Net Worth: $475M
Irish-born Eddie Jordan is a retired race car driver, team owner and entrepreneurial guru. According to his website, Jordan was working as a bank clerk when the Dublin bank strike led him to move to Jersey. There, he discovered racing for the first time. He eventually signed on as a driver with Marlboro and raced for several years before retiring after suffering some serious accidents.
Jordan has also developed a portfolio of business successes, holds two honorary doctorates and has won several prestigious awards in Ireland.
8. Floyd Mayweather Jr. Net Worth: $560M
Fight fans probably aren’t surprised to learn that Floyd Mayweather Jr. is one of the richest athletes of all time. After all, the professional boxer was Forbes’ highest-paid athlete of 2015.
In addition to his $300 million salary in 2015, Mayweather earned approximately $15 million in endorsements, according to Forbes, which also estimated his total career earnings at approximately $1 billion as of 2017.
Mayweather, now 41, retired in 2015 with a perfect 49-0 record, equaling that of legendary heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano. He came out of retirement for another huge payday when he fought and defeated MMA star Conor McGregor in a Las Vegas match in August 2017, taking home as much as $300 million.
7. Roger Staubach Net Worth: $600M
As a quarterback, Roger Staubach helped take the Dallas Cowboys to four Super Bowls, winning two of them (Super Bowl VI and Super Bowl XII). He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985. Additionally, Staubach graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, where he won the Heisman Trophy in 1963 before going on to do a tour of duty in Vietnam.
After retiring from the NFL in 1979, Staubach, who worked in real estate during the offseason, entered that field full time. He built up his real estate business, the Staubach Company, into a multistate empire and eventually sold it in 2008 for a reported $640 million.
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6. Magic Johnson Net Worth: $600M
Magic Johnson was a huge star on the basketball court when he played for the Lakers, garnering a nearly unheard of 25-year contract for $1 million a year in the early 1980s. And he’s been extremely successful off the court in the years since. After he left the NBA, Johnson focused on building shopping centers and movie theaters in underserved urban areas, according to Business Insider. He also worked with then-Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz to build coffee shop locations in urban areas.
Today, he has his own business and sports empire — Magic Johnson Enterprises (MJE). The company’s portfolio has included a stake in the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, Uncharted Play, Vibe Holdings and more.
In February 2017, Johnson made a dramatic return to the team that helped make him a star when he was named president of basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers. He earns enough that when the team was fined $500,000 last year, he offered to pay the fine out of his own salary.
5. Arnold Palmer Net Worth: $700M
As famous for his impressive golf career as the beverage that bears his name, Arnold Palmer more than deserves his nickname of “The King.” Unfortunately, Palmer passed away in September 2016 due to complications from heart problems. But his endorsements keep him among the highest-earning retired athletes, even posthumously.
And that famous Arnold Palmer beverage? The rights to the lemonade-tea concoction were sold to AriZona Beverage Co.
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4. Tiger Woods Net Worth: $760M
Despite a headline-grabbing 2009 scandal that threatened the pro golfer’s endorsements and sponsorship deals — and led to the end of his marriage — Tiger Woods remains one of the richest athletes in the world.
Although Woods didn’t play in any official PGA Tour events in 2016, he still made $45 million through endorsements. The 2017 season wasn’t kind to Woods either as he failed to make the cut again. On Memorial Day weekend 2017, he was arrested for suspicion of DUI in Jupiter, Fla.
In 2018, however, things are looking up for Woods: He has five top 10 finishes on the PGA Tour this season.
3. Michael Schumacher Net Worth: $800M
One of the highest-paid athletes ever, retired German race car driver Michael Schumacher is a seven-time Formula One World Champion. According to Forbes, he earned $20 million in salary and another $10 million from endorsements in 2012.
Tragically, Schumacher was involved in a skiing accident in 2013 and suffered a serious brain injury. The athlete continues to receive treatment at his home.
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2. Michael Jordan Net Worth: $1.65B
Former Chicago Bulls superstar Michael Jordan is not only one of the greatest basketball players of all time, but he’s also one of the most successful people off the court. The NBA legend, businessman and “Space Jam” actor has a net worth of $1.65 billion, according to Forbes.
Jordan became one of the wealthiest athletes of all time thanks to his successful career as a professional basketball player and his impressive business ventures, including an ownership stake in the Charlotte Hornets. And thanks to his endorsement and sponsorship deals, as well as his eponymous shoes, Jordan’s brand is one of the most recognized in the world.
1. Ion Tiriac Net Worth: $2B
Michael Jordan’s name might be more famous, but it’s Romanian billionaire Ion Tiriac who takes the title of world’s richest athlete.
Tiriac, who played tennis professionally for 11 years, saw some success as a singles player, but he excelled as a doubles player. He won 22 career doubles titles, including the 1970 French Open championship where he and fellow Romanian Ilie Nastase beat Americans Arthur Ashe and Charlie Pasarell in the finals. He was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2013.
Upon retirement, Tiriac founded Banca Tiriac in 1990 and expanded his business empire to include numerous companies under Tiriac Holdings. He became the first billionaire from Romania on Forbes’ list of the world’s billionaires in 2007. Celebrity Net Worth currently estimates that Tiriac enjoys a net worth of $2 billion.
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Gabrielle Olya contributed to the reporting for this article.
Net worth figures were taken from Celebrity Net Worth unless otherwise indicated.