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The 20 Highest Paid Athletes in the World

The sports industry remains to be a lucrative one. In fact, it has reached new heights in modern days. Sporting events are broadcasted live. Besides, the viewership has increased to a considerable extent. Often, athletes are well taken care of. But, due to social media, they’ve attained celebrity statuses which are equal to those of movie stars, if not more.

They aren’t competing with movie and TV show stars in fame only. But, top level athletes are competing with famous movie stars in wealth. In fact, they’re making millions of contract and prize money. Also, they’re making considerable fortunes from endorsements and sponsorship deals.

Below, we feature the highest paid athletes in 2018:

20. Philip Rivers ($38 Million)


Philip was able to sign an $83.25, 4-year contract extension with San Diego Chargers back in August 2015. That pact was inclusive of a whopping $22.5 million sign bonus and a $15 million salary for the 2015’ season alone. Also, that deal entails a no-trade clause from just the franchise Philip has ever known since becoming a pro. Philip Rivers was able to lead the league, regarding the passes completed. As well, he came second concerning the passing yards.

19. Sebastian Vettel ($41 Million)


Sebastian was able to link a 3-year deal to drive for the famous Ferrari back in 2014. That contract is among the richest in the Formula One. In fact, it pays out over $40 million on an annual basis. That’s inclusive of bonuses whenever Sebastian performs exceptionally. Also, he’s one of the only four drivers who’ve been able to win at least 4 titles. Besides, his 42 wins rank 4th all-time. Michael Schumacher tied Sebastian’s record for the most wins (13) in the 2013 season.

18. Russell Wilson ($41.8 Million)


For his very first three seasons, Russell was only able to make $2 million in salary. However, the Seahawks decided to reward him in the 2015 summer. They awarded him a 4-year contract extension that’s worth $87.6 million. Also, that includes a $31 million signing bonus. This player has partnered with various companies. Such include Luvo, Bose, Wilson Sporting Goods, Nike, Braun, Microsoft, and more. As well, he was able to launch his clothing line in 2016 under the Good-Man Brand at Nordstrom.

17. Rory McIlroy ($42.6 Million)


The on-course earnings of Rory fell by almost $9 million from a massive $16.3 million haul last year. But, he continues being a bankable marketing star. Among his biggest endorsement deals is Nike. That, alone, earns him nearly $20 million on an annual basis. Also, he partners with Bose, Upper Deck, Electronic Arts, and Omega. But, his deal with Santander expired on the offset of 2015.

16. Floyd Mayweather ($44 Million)


Floyd has featured as the highest-paid athlete in the globe for 3 of the previous 4 years. He banked over 500 million after defeating Andre Berto. In turn, that brought his career’s earnings to over $700 million. Also, outside the ring, he earned a little over $10 million over the past year. In particular, he achieved that through dozen appearances during the ‘World Tour’. As well, he accumulated profits from his merchandise’s TMT line.

15. Tom Brady ($44.1 Million)


Tom’s March extension is inclusive of a lucrative $28 million signing bonus. But, in turn, that will lower his 2016 base salary to 51 million from 59 million. However, that could save him almost 52 million regarding game checks in case his ‘Deflate-gate’ suspension gets upheld. Also, Tom inked another endorsement deal with Tag Heuer. In fact, he led the NFL with regards to merchandise sales in the 2015 season. Also, he stars in a Simmons Beautyrest’s ad campaign.

14. Joe Flacco ($44.5 Million)


The new ($66.4 million) 3-year contract will keep Joe Flacco at the Baltimore Ravens until 2021. This deal is inclusive of a $40 million signing bonus. But, $15 million of that bonus has been deferred until March 2018. Joe Flacco’s $22.1 average wage is, in fact, the highest in the entire NFL. Besides, it tops that of Aaron Rodgers, whose mark was $22 million.

13. Eli Manning ($45 Million)


He’s a 2-time Super-Bowl winning quarterback. He decided to sign a 4-year contract extension back in September 2015. That entailed $84 million. Also, the pact included $65 million in the form of guarantees, as well as $31 million as the signing bonus. That guarantee is tied as the most ever granted to any NFL player, thus matching Philip Rivers’ deal. Eli Manning’s earnings are among the highest for active players, with $188 million, following his brother’s (Peyton) retirement.

12. Tiger Woods ($45.3 Million)


Although Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth made more than him, Woods is still someone to reckon with worldwide. For most of the past season, Tiger Woods hasn’t been on the course as a result of knee complications. Since the beginning of 2014, the 14-time winner has just played 18 events. Next, his sponsor, Muscle-Pharm, decided to pay him $2.5 million to terminate the contract and buy out the remaining owed $7 million. But, Tiger Woods’ course design business is seemingly picking up following the financial crisis that hampered his initial attempts. In fact, he opened the first U.S.-based course outside of Houston in 2015.

11. Lewis Hamilton ($46 Million)

Lewis Hamilton ($46 Million)

Lewis agreed to sign a 3-year contract extension in 2015. That would enable him to continue driving for the Mercedes F1 team. In particular, that deal will take effect this year’s season. In fact, it could pay out much more than $130 million. That’s, of course, inclusive of the bonuses. Last year, Lewis won his 3rd F1 World Championship. Currently, he has endorsement deals with various brands. Such include Bombardier, IWC, Monster Energy, MV Agusta, and L’Oreal.

10. Kobe Bryant ($50 Million)


He has earned a lucrative $680 million throughout a 20-year career. That’s in the form of both endorsements and salaries. In fact, he’s the most-earning athlete in his team. He’s investing millions of dollars in an upcoming sports’ drink popularly referred to as BodyArmor. In 2016 alone, Kobe Bryant has earned a whopping $50 million dollars. In particular, that comprises his $25 million dollars salary. Then, he made the rest from various endorsements. Often, he’s termed as a dangerous scorer. Kobe lives in the prestigious Newport Beach in California.

9. Jordan Spieth ($52.8 Million)


Often, he’s referred to as the Golden Golf boy. In 2015, Jordan won two major titles. That made him the youngest golf player ever to win the U.S. Open. Additionally, he made an exclusive $10 million in the form of a reward when he won the Fed-Ex Cup. That, along with the Position One ranking, enabled him to capture massive bonuses, especially from his partners. Such include Titleist and Under Armor. In 2016, his total earnings so far are almost $53 million dollars. He made $28.8 of that money through salaries and winnings. Meanwhile, he earned the rest $32 million through different endorsements. Jordan Spieth resides in Dallas, Texas.

8. Phil Mickelson ($52.9 Million)


Phil is a Golf legend. He has earned a whopping $53 million so far in 2016. He has made most of that cash through endorsements. In particular, he made just $2.9 million in the form of salaries and bonuses. Then, he earned the remaining $50 million through endorsements. Various large organizations sponsor Phil Mickelson. Such include Rolex, Callaway, Amgen, and Barclays. In particular, most of the sponsors value Phil’s ability to connect with the fans quite a lot. It’s almost impossible to achieve such a huge pay without popularity and an active fan base. This pro-golfer resides in Rancho Santa Fe, California.

7. Cam Newton ($53.1 Million)


Currently, Cam Newton is the NFL superstar. He’s an American quarterback who’s ensuring to live up to it. In fact, Newton was able to win the MVP award by scooping 48 votes out of 50. Back in 2015, he signed an excellent contract with the popular Carolina Panthers. This contract was set to last five years. Also, it’s worth an astounding $103.8 million. Besides, Cam Newton has made $53 million in 2016 alone. In particular, his salary earned him an excellent $41.1 million of that amount. On the other hand, his endorsement deals also contributed another $12 million. Cam Newton resides in Charlotte in North Carolina.

6. Novak Djokovic ($55.8 Million)


So far, the last 5 years have been fantastic for Novak Djokovic, the no. 1 tennis player throughout the world. In fact, he has been able to win eleven Grand Slam titles. Additionally, he has made a considerable $82 million dollars. Aside from that, Novak Djokovic became the first Tennis player to make $20 million of prize money from just a single season.

In 2016, he has managed to earn a hefty $21.8 million in the form of salaries and bonuses. Besides, he has earned $34 million from endorsements. Novak has multiple partners, including Uniqlo, Head, Seiko, ANZ, and Adidas. Most of his fans immensely love him for his exceptional skills. Now, he resides in Monte Carlo in Monaco.

5. Kevin Durant ($56.2 Million)


He made headlines when the footwear brand, Nike, extended a deal that’s worth $300 million for ten more years back in 2014. Also, Kevin has been able to partner with Neff and Footlocker to launch his underwear line just last year. But, he makes most money through endorsement deals. So far in 2016, his salary is $20.2 million. Also, he has earned an additional $36 million through endorsements. Durant resides in Oklahoma City.

4. Roger Federer ($67.8 Million)


Undoubtedly, he’s among the greatest Tennis players in the history of this game. In fact, he has been able to earn quite a fortune playing it. This Swiss player boasts numerous records under his belt. That includes the longest stay at Position 1, as well as consecutive appearances in the Grand Slams.

Furthermore, Federer is the highest-earning tennis player when off the court. In fact, he has made an astonishing $60 million in 2016 alone through endorsements. That’s thanks to deals with companies like Nike, Mercedes-Benz, Rolex ,and Credit Suisse. Besides, he has earned $7.8 million in the form of salaries and bonuses. That totals to a wholesome $68 million. Federer lives in Bottmingen in Switzerland.

3. LeBron James (77.2 Million)


LeBron is the highest-paid basketball player in the entire NBA, at age 31. Besides, he’s the 3rd highest paid athlete in the globe. This year alone, in fact, he has earned a whopping $77 million dollars. Also, he has contributed significantly towards leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to be winners in the NBA Finals (2016).

For the very first time in history, Nike decided to sign a lifetime deal with James back in 2015. In particular, James has earned $23.2 million in 2016 alone regarding the salary. Besides, he has made a fabulous $54 million in the form of endorsements. Additionally, he has a broad fan base. James LeBron resides in Akron in the U.S.

2. Lionel Messi ($81.4 Million)


Most football experts consider Lionel Messi as among the best players ever in this game’s history. In fact, his achievements serve as a testament to that statement. Lionel has been able to win the FIFA’s Player of the Year five different times. Also, he had contributed a lot towards leading his club team, FC Barcelona, to multiple victories.

This year alone, he has been able to scoop an unbelievable salary of $53.4 million. Additionally, he has received over $20 million in the form of endorsements. Lionel has signed deals with various brands, including Samsung, Adidas, EA Sports, Electronic Arts, and much more. His rivalry with Cristiano Ronaldo has resulted in a worldwide rage. He resides in Castelldefels in Spain.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo ($88 Million)


With over $80 million in earnings, the Portuguese National, Cristiano Ronaldo, is the highest paid athlete. In fact, he deserves this spot, following his endless achievements and awards. He has been able to win the FIFA’s Player of the Year three different times. As well, he has broken the 50-goal mark for 6 consecutive years when at Real Madrid. This club pays Cristiano a lump sum salary of $50 million. Besides, his contract’s set to last until 2018. Being among the most marketable athletes, thousands of clients endorse and sponsor Cristiano Ronaldo every year.

It’s not just him. His club, Real Madrid, is among the richest soccer teams in the entire world. He earns over $30 million through endorsement deals with various popular brands. Such include Sacoor Brother Suites, Nike, Monster Headphones, and Tag Heuer. Cristiano’s popularity, with the increasing fan base, is skyrocketing. He boasts fantastic soccer skills. Cristiano Ronaldo resides in Madrid in Spain.

Why Are Athletes’ Salaries Too High?

To most people, it barely seems right that athletes are paid so much more than teachers, firefighters, or nurses. Who’s responsible for such high salaries? One would want to ask that. A labor market would occur when labor sellers interact with work buyers. In return for payment, the workforce sells work services to the prospective employers.

In a market economy, the price that’s paid for work services will arise from the choice(s) consumers make about the items they intend to purchase, as well as how much they’re willing to pay. The users’ preferences drive the prices’ formation. For that reason, a producer can’t just drive up a product’s price by selecting an extravagant way to manufacture it.

That aspect if often termed as ‘consumer sovereignty’. As such, the ultimate boss in the market is the consumer. Similarly, the owners of sports teams receive municipal subsidies to construct fancy stadiums which could pay their players more than they could without the government largess. In turn, the enormous salaries sports stars earn are chiefly the result of their fans’ willingness to watch them play. The power to alter this situation lies solely with the fans.

Being a Good Athlete

It takes a tremendous amount of hard work and passion for an average person to be a good athlete. They must have specific qualities like discipline and the will to move on, regardless of the multiple defeats. Athletes work hard to endure and persevere in their sport(s) without additional medication. In fact, most will tell you how difficult it’s to maintain consistency in the game or session. That’s part of the reason they’re paid fabulously well. Some athletes are particularly millionaires. Others are still chasing the dream.

Do They Deserve Such a Pay?

Most people would argue that athletes are compensated for their talent(s). Today, sports superstars have compensation opportunities which provide multi-million dollar payments. Now, professional sports are big business. We’ve got a highly competitive, yet open market where skills are subject to contractual agreements between club owners and athletes. It’d be wrong to criticize the high payments unless there are significant shortfalls in performance.

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