Top-10 Highest-Paid Athletes Of The Decade

Photo of Cristiano Ronaldo, Floyd Mayweather and Lionel Messi - Top-10 Highest-Paid Athletes Of The Decade 2010-2019
Cristiano Ronaldo, Floyd Mayweather and Lionel Messi leading in the Top-10 Highest-Paid Athletes Of The Decade 2010-2019

As we approach 2020 with much fanfare and excitement, we mark the conclusion of the second decade in the 21st century. Reflecting on the happenings in sports for the past years in what could be summed up to be a very challenging, yet rewarding decade is a tradition Sportytell lives by. In this decade, the intense rivalry between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, which began in 2007, took a dramatic turn. The two players who are often regarded as the best players of the modern age and contenders for the Greatest Of All Time (GOAT) title, dominated the football scene in a spectacular fashion that saw fans bewildered by their antics. The football demigods held each other to five Ballon d’Or each before Messi broke the deadlock and upturned to a sixth Ballon d’Or award in 2019.

Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. who entered the decade undefeated extended his unstained boxing record this decade after thrilling us in what was widely publicised as the Fight of the Century, against Filipino boxer, Manny Pacquiao.

Renowned Golfer, Tiger Woods, ended the first decade in a disappointing manner, following an extramarital affair scandal which did grave damage to his public image and plummeted his performance, he eventually rose back in the most inspirational manner, to clinch his sixth Masters, for the first time since 2005.

These and many more, are just a few of the several events which struck the world of sport in the past ten years. But ultimately, most of these headline makers, made their mark in the decade not just by their performance, but by the exorbitant sums and blockbuster contracts they penned which racked in millions of dollars, to set a new record in the world of sport. As revealed by American lifestyle magazine, Forbes, here are the Top-10 Highest-Paid Athletes Of The Decade (1 January 2010 – 31 December 2019).

1. Floyd Mayweather Jr. – $915 million

Photo of Floyd Mayweather
Floyd Mayweather is the richest boxer of all time. (Photo credit: newsweek.com)

Floyd “Money” Mayweather who severed ties with Top Rank to set up his own boxing promotional firm, racked in as much as $915 million, the highest made by any athlete in the past ten years. Despite not penning any exceptionally lucrative sponsorship deal, Mayweather’s revenue for the past decade skyrocketed as a result of his 2015 Fight of the Century bout against Manny Pacquiao and his 2017 The Money Fight against UFC fighter Connor McGregor, which generated a combined $770 million. The fights which generated media attention and social media buzz were the two fights where Mayweather made the most money. 

2. Cristiano Ronaldo – $800 million

Cristiano Ronaldo of Juventus F. C.
Cristiano Ronaldo (forward) for Juventus F.C. in 2019. (Photo credit: Unknown)

Cristiano Ronaldo, nicknamed CR7 placed second on the top paid athlete of the decade with $800 million. The Juventus star had a very impressive run this decade. Three times he led the former club, Los Blancos to UEFA Champions League glory. His much-publicised move to Serie A side also bolstered the high financial packages he receives. Coupled with several endorsement and sponsorship deals with top brands such as Nike, his paycheck was bound to increase. Ronaldo as at 2019 generates $109 million annually.

3. Lionel Messi – $750 million

Lionel Messi of Barcelona FC
Lionel Messi (Forward) for FC Barcelona. (Image: Goal.com)

The top paid athlete of 2019, generated $750 million in the decade. His performance which was extremely laudable was marred by his lack of success in international football. One of the saddest periods of the decade for the Argentine star was at the 2014 World Cup final, where the La Albiceleste lost to a European rival, Germany in a very heart wrenching 1–nil defeat on South American soil. Lionel Messi‘s financial package took a big leap as a result of his $92 million contracts with Barcelona. 

4. LeBron James – $680 million

LeBron James playing for Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron James playing for Los Angeles Lakers

Four-time NBA MVP LeBron James is the fourth highest-paid athlete of the decade with $680 million. LeBron won the NBA championship on three occasions during the decade and emerged as the NBA Finals MVP on all three occasions. Aside from basketball, LeBron earns a very exorbitant sum from various endorsement deals. He earns as much as $53 million from various endorsement and sponsorship deals with Nike, Coca-Cola, Beats Electronics and KIA Motors. His 2018 contract with the LA Lakers also shot up his earnings.

5. Roger Federer – $640 million

Photo of Roger Federer
Roger Federer (Photo credit: Sky Sports)

The only tennis player to have won 20 Grand Slam singles, Roger Federer who is hailed as one of the greatest tennis players in the world ranks as the fifth highest-paid athlete in the decade. Federer who has earned about $129 million in prize money earns as much as $86 million annually. In 2018, the ace tennis star penned a 10-year deal with Uniqlo worth $300 million. Cumulatively, the ace tennis star has earned $640 million in the decade.

6. Tiger Woods – $615 million

Ranked as the 6th highest-paid athlete in the world is Tiger Woods, the reigning Masters champion. Following the scandal which led several brands to part ways with the star, Woods performance in recent years has helped build his reputation and solidified his endorsement earnings. The star who earns $54 million from endorsement and sponsorship deals annually, won his first Major title in 11 years in 2019. He has accumulated $615 million in earnings in the decade.

7. Phil Mickelson – $480 million

The second golfer to make the list, Phil Mickelson earned $480 million in the past decade. The golfer who has won 44 PGA tour events earned the biggest win of his career after defeating Tiger Woods in 2018 to secure $9 million. Annually, Mickelson earns $36 million from endorsement deals. 

8. Manny Pacquiao – $435 million

An astute boxer turned politician, Manny Pacquiao who is one of the top pay per view boxers in history has earned over $1 billion from his pay per view fights. His 2015 Fight of the Century bout against Floyd Mayweather Jr., generated $400 million, the highest ever in his boxing career. Pacquiao who currently serves as a senator in the Philippines still fights in bouts.

9. Kevin Durant – $425 million

The second NBA star to make the list, Kevin Durant has had a phenomenal career throughout the decade, particularly towards the end of the decade. The two time NBA champion who has been crowned NBA Finals MVP on two occasions signed a four-year deal with the Brooklyn Nets for about $164 million in 2019. Durant was rated as the 10th highest-paid athlete by Forbes in 2019.

10. Lewis Hamilton – $400 million

The only Formula one star to make the list, Hamilton has been on a fiery run for the past few years. Hamilton who has claimed the Formula 1 title six times and has won it for the past three years, penned a contract with Mercedes which will see him earn as much as £100 million in three years. Hamilton is the highest paid race driver in Formula 1. The star also enjoys huge financial incentives from his several endorsement deals with brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Bose and Monster Energy.


There you have it – The top-10 earners in the world of sports in the past 10 years. What do you think? Please share with us in the comment section below.

Source: Forbes

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