Which professional athletes are the Richest Athletes of All Time? To answer that, we had to refer to a Forbeslist of the world’s richest athletes as well as information about various endorsement deals.
It seems that it’s the latter that rockets some of these lifetime grosses into the stratosphere, so endorsement deals and smart investments are key for athletes whose careers are typically shorter than others.
Americans think of football as the country’s favorite sport, but it may surprise you to learn the richest athletes are usually basketball players, golfers, boxers or race car drivers. Read on to find out which athletes scored the most cash in their lifetimes.
Ayrton Senna, $400 million
Before Ayrton Senna lost his life during a 1994 race, he won 3 world titles and 41 races. He was only 34 when he died, but he had already earned $400 million.
Andre Agassi, $470 million
Andre Agassi is a former world No. 1 tennis player who has won multiple Grand Slam championships as well as an Olympic Gold medal. In addition to his impressive tennis career, Agassi’s Nike endorsement deal earned him $140 million over the course of a decade.
Eddie Jordan, $475 million
Eddie Jordan is a retired motorsport team boss from Dublin, Ireland. He covered Formula Races for the BBC for years and has joined Top Gear as a presenter.
Evander Holyfield, $475 million
Evander Holyfield’s highest-paying bout was the $34 million he earned for fighting Mike Tyson, who famously bit off part of Holyfield’s ear during the match. Despite impressive career earnings, Holyfield still had to face a foreclosure on his Atlanta estate as well as lawsuits for unpaid child support.
Kevin Garnett, $480 million
During his 22-year NBA career, Kevin Garnett earned a whopping $334 million. He now works on TNT’s Inside the NBA and is a consultant for the Los Angeles Clippers.
Retired NFL quarterback Peyton Manning is still scoring off the field. He works as a shill for DirecTV, Gatorade, Nationwide, Papa John’s and more.
Derek Jeter, $490 million
Former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter is now part owner of the Miami Marlins. Jeter has had many product endorsements over the years, which padded his $490 million lifetime earnings.
Manny Pacquiao, $510 million
Manny Pacquiao earned $125 million for his 2015 fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Now Pacquiao serves as a Filipino senator.
Oscar De La Hoya, $520 million
“Golden Boy” Oscar De La Hoya’s fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. was the biggest match in pay-per-view history until Mayweather faced off against Manny Pacquiao. For the latter bout, De La Hoya served as announcer and earned a cool $52 million.
Jeff Gordon, $525 million
Former racing champion Jeff Gordon is now an announcer for Fox NASCAR. He won 93 races during his career, which is currently the world record.
Alex Rodriguez, $575 million
Retired baseball player Alex Rodriguez played 22 seasons for the MLB and amassed quite a fortune. He now works as a Fox Sports analyst and is romantically entangled with Jennifer Lopez.
Michael Jordan, $1.85 billion
Former NBA player Michael Jordan still has sweet endorsement deals with Gatorade, Nike, Hanes and others that keep his wallet fat, but that’s not what pushed him over the $1 billion mark. He bought the Charlotte Bobcats (now the Hornets) for $175 million in 2010, a single investment that is now worth $780 million.
Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, $600 million each
You know these twin Olympian rowers as the guys who sued Mark Zuckerberg for their part in creating Facebook, but they were also early investors in Bitcoin. The value of the controversial cryptocurrency rises and falls, but the Winklevosses’ investment makes each of them worth about $600 million.
Roger Staubach, $600 million
Roger Staubach was the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys from 1969 to 1979, winning two Super Bowls. He got into real estate and sold his company in 2008 for $640 million. Pictured is Staubach receiving a Medal of Freedom from President Trump in 2018.
Lionel Messi, $600 million
Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi does double duty for the Barcelona and Argentine teams. He earned $111 million in 2018 alone from his salary and endorsements. He keeps hinting about retirement, but fans hope he’s got a little kick left.
Magic Johnson, $600 million
Basketball legend Magic Johnson became an inspiration for people living with HIV when he announced he had the virus in 1991. Now he is the head of Magic Johnson Enterprises, which is partnered with Sony and Starbucks. He also co-owns the L.A. Dodgers, so Johnson is still working magic with regard to finances.
Roger Federer, $675 million
Swiss tennis champion Roger Federer earned $12.2 million playing on the courts in 2018, plus an additional $65 million in endorsements. He has won 20 Grand Slam titles, more than any other man in the sport.
Mike Tyson, $700 million
Mike Tyson was the youngest heavyweight champion in boxing history but blew his fortune and had to file for bankruptcy in 2003. Iron Mike was down but not for the count — he bounced back as an actor and with lucrative business partnerships.
Ion Țiriac, $1.32 billion
Ion Țiriac is a retired Romanian tennis and hockey player who became a manager for other tennis players. He reinvented himself as a successful international investor and even owns a museum in Romania that houses his private collection of expensive cars.
Greg Norman, $705 million
Australian golf legend Greg Norman is nicknamed “The Shark.” He is the CEO of Greg Norman Company, which is involved in areas such as interior design, clothing, real estate and golf-course design.
Richest Athletes of All Time
Cristiano Ronaldo, $725 million
Cristiano Ronaldo is considered the best soccer player on the planet, and he is paid accordingly. Forbes ranked him as the highest-paid athlete in 2016 and 2017. Ronaldo’s endorsements alone earned him $47 million in 2018 in addition to his $61 million salary.
LeBron James, $730 million
If you called LeBron James the best basketball player ever, few would argue with you. The L.A. Lakers superstar has locked several big-time endorsement deals with companies such as Coca-Cola, Nike, Kia, Intel and Verizon. He is also part owner of 17 Blaze Pizza, which you’ll probably order from soon if you haven’t already.
Shaquille O’Neal, $735 million
Shaquille O’Neal is considered one of the greatest NBA players of all time. His continuing endorsement deals keep his pockets well-lined, and he also works as a sports analyst on cable’s Inside the NBA. Except for starring in the 1996 turkey Kazaam as a genie, he’s made some solid business decisions.
David Beckham, $800 million
David Beckham is a retired soccer player who parlayed his good looks into many modeling and sponsorship gigs. He is the president of Inter Miami CF, a major league soccer team ready to get kicking in 2020.
Kobe Bryant, $800 million
For the last six seasons playing for the L.A. Lakers, Kobe Bryant was the highest-paid NBA player. Now retired from basketball, Bryant started the venture capital firm Kobe Inc. and is still making bank.
Phil Mickelson, $815 million
Phil Mickelson, aka Lefty, is starting to make gains on Tiger Woods as the highest-paid golfer playing today. Mickelson has lucrative sponsorship deals with Rolex, ExxonMobil, Amgen and more.
Floyd Mayweather Jr., $1 billion
Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s bout with Conor McGregor helped push the already-wealthy boxer’s earnings over the billion-dollar mark. He is one of the biggest pay-per-view stars of all time.
Michael Schumacher, $1 billion
Retired German racing driver Michael Schumacher is considered one of the best Formula One drivers of all time. He suffered a brain injury after a ski accident in 2013 that left him unable to walk or stand, but thankfully he invested well and is receiving the best medical care available.
Jack Nicklaus, $1.2 billion
Golfer Jack Nicklaus has won 73 PGA Tours, placing him third all time. His company has designed golf courses in over 40 countries, and he’s also lent his name to ice cream, real estate, glassware and more. Score!
Arnold Palmer, $1.4 billion
Arnold Palmer’s nickname was “The King,” and he was one of golf’s first superstars in the early days of television. His name is licensed on sports products sold all over the world. He passed away in 2016, but his name is still a hole in one for his estate.
#1 Richest Athletes of All Time
Tiger Woods, $1.7 billion
Golfer Tiger Woods has 80 PGA Tour wins and is one of the richest athletes of all time. He may have problems with ladies off the green, but none of his marital woes seem to have made a dent in his impressive lifetime earnings. However, he did lose big-time sponsors such as Gatorade, AT&T, Accenture and Gillette.