If there is one thing that the general public agree on it’s that our sporting heroes earn a pretty penny but even at the elite level, there can be a sizable spread between wages.
Here are the biggest earners of 2019 based on their annual earnings and, just a heads up, there is bound to be a surprise omission or two.
10 – KEVIN DURANT, $65M, BASKETBALL
The Brooklyn Nets forward might be firmly in last place on this list but his $65M annual earnings aren’t to be sniffed at. A salary like that doesn’t just fall in your lap though and Durant has earned it with 10 consecutive years as an NBA All-star, two Championships, a season MVP award and two final MVP awards. Not too shabby.
9 – STEPHEN CURRY, $80M, BASKETBALL
It’s been 10 years since Stephen Curry was drafted at number seven and he’s done alright for himself. The Golden State Warrior point guard is a huge threat with three-pointers and in 2015 and 2016 won back to back MVP awards. Since 2014 he’s been in six consecutive All-Star games and, if he keeps it up, don’t be surprised if next year he earns even more.
8 – LEBRON JAMES, $89M, BASKETBALL
Forget the media circus currently surrounding LeBron James and focus on the player that has lit up the NBA for over 15 years and you’ll understand why he’ll earn near on $90M this year. A four-time MVP, a three-time Champion and one of the highest points scoring records in history. Yep, that’s a man who will go down as an NBA legend, no doubt.
7 – AARON RODGERS, $89M, FOOTBALL
Aaron Rodgers played his college football with the California Golden Bears and after becoming a first-round pick in 2005 he’s gone on to cement his place as one of the greatest ever quarterbacks in NFL history. He won the MVP award in Super Bowl XLV as he starred in the Packers victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers and he also scooped the season NFL MVP awards in 2011 and 2014 as well. He’s getting on a bit now, but I think he’ll have a decent pension pot.
6 –RUSSELL WILSON, $90M, FOOTBALL
When the Seattle Seahawks picked Russell Wilson up in round three of the 2012 draft it’s unlikely that either party would have imagined the journey Wilson has been on since. He’s still a Seahawk and has six Pro-Bowl appearances, a Super Bowl victory and several personal accolades to his name. Throw into the mix that he’s loosely signed to the NY Yankees as well and you’ll soon understand why this Quarterback come second baseman is worth so much.
5 – ROGER FEDERER, $93M, TENNIS
When you say tennis, you hear ‘Federer’. The man is as close as they come to the perfect pro and leads the way with the most grand-slam wins ever (20) but it’s not all about the grand slam and, in total, he’s won a remarkable 102 singles titles in his glittering career. If that’s not enough for you then what about his 2,170-day stint at the top of the rankings?
4 – CANELO ALVAREZ, $94M, BOXING
Canelo Alvarez is the only boxer to feature in our top 10 and is arguably the biggest surprise on the list. The 29-year-old Mexican has a 67% knockout rate from 52 victories and has just a solitary blemish on his record – a points defeat at the hands of Floyd Mayweather Jr. Alvarez penned what was at the time a sports contract record worth $365M for 11 fights on the DAZN network and if certain triggers are met that sum could grow higher. Hardly a surprise he’s near the top of our list.
3 – NEYMAR, $105M, SOCCER
When you’re the most expensive soccer transfer of all time I guess it shouldn’t be too much of a shock to see wages rivalling the best in the business and yet the Brazilian superstar is still not held in the same regard as others in his sport. His dazzling footwork and goal-scoring prowess can be forgotten when he’s rolling around the floor feigning injury but after watching his latest injury setback, which saw him in tears on Brazil’s bench, reminds you that deep down it’s all about the love of the game. The money probably helps mind.
2 – CRISTIANO RONALDO, $110M, SOCCER
$110M per year is an insane salary but when you break it down to, on average, a measly $2.9M per goal for the year then it’s – yep – still insane. Ronaldo’s name is always mentioned in the debate for the ‘Greatest footballer of all time’ and 700 career goals, five Balond’Or awards and every major trophy he’s ever competed for – with the exception of a World Cup – makes a pretty compelling case.
1 – LIONEL MESSI, $127M, SOCCER
From one GOAT contender to another. Like CR7, Messi also boasts five Balon d’Or’s, stacks of goals and a trophy cabinet bursting at the seams. The main difference is that Messi has stayed put in Barcelona and the Spanish giants know what he brings to the club despite his advancing years. They’re willing to shell out $90M for his services with other contracts taking his earnings to record-setting levels.
There you have it, 10 whopping salaries that will make the average person on the street shudder but that’s the going rate for being at the top of their field and providing us with top-class entertainment every week.