Top-20 Highest-Paid Athletes In The World 2020

Highest-Paid Athletes in the World 2020- Top-20 Earners

Who are the highest-paid athletes in the world in 2020? Find out!

For the world of sports, 2020 so far has been a historic year, one that stakeholders will never forget in a hurry. The rhythm of continuity sports has enjoyed for decades came to an abrupt halt as the COVID-19 pandemic spread to every corner of the earth.

From football leagues, the NBA, tennis Grandslam events to major horse racing events and more, all fell to the painful bite of the Novel Coronavirus. As athletes self-isolate and few who contacted the novel virus slowly recovered, the impact of the virus which led to the suspension of various sporting events had financial repercussions on the earnings of athletes. For the first time since 2016, the top-100 highest-paid athletes in the globe failed to surpass the previous year mark. Affected by pay cuts and cancelled or postponed events, sports stars saw their earnings take a significant hit.

While few athletes with strong endorsement portfolios were able to generate huge sums, some leagues such as the Major League Baseball (MLB) were heavily affected. The MLB saw just Clayton Kershaw make the top-100 cut at no. 57.

Sportytell presents the top-20 highest-paid stars in pre-tax income including salary/winnings as well as endorsements as revealed by the American magazine, Forbes. *All earnings are for a 12-month period which ended in May 2020

Here are the Top-20 Highest-Paid Athletes in the world in 2020

20. Deontay Wilder

Deontay Wilder

Earnings: $46.5 Million

For the First time in his career, Deontay Wilder made the highest-paid athletes’ list in the top-20 cut. The American boxer who lost his WBC Heavyweight title in February 2020, is one of three boxers to make the top-20 cut. The American star made $46 million in his Tyson Fury rematch — a bout which was highly anticipated and also saw him earn the first professional defeat of his career. Wilder made $46.5 million, the biggest payday of his career so far. He earned $500,000 from endorsement and sponsorship deals.

19. Anthony Joshua

Anthony Joshua

Earnings: $47 Million

British boxer, Anthony Joshua occupies the 19th position in the Forbes ranking of the world’s highest-earning athletes in 2020. The boxing sensation is currently enjoying one of the best times of his career. In December 2019, he avenged his loss to Andy Ruiz Jr, to become the WBA (Super), IBO, WBO, and IBF heavyweight titleholder for the second time, after he lost it to the latter in June 2019. His December 2019 win over Ruiz earned him $36 million. The star who is riding high in his eight-year $1 billion deal between his promoter, Matchroom Sports and DAZN earned $47 million. Joshua’s endorsement deals with Jaguar, EA Sports, Beats Electronics and others accounts for the $11 million.

18. Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Earnings: $47.6 million

For the first time in his career, the Greek Freak enters the top-20 in the prestigious highest-paid athletes’ rankings. Giannis Antetokounmpo who is currently in the third season of his four years $100 million deal he signed in 2016 with the Milwaukee Bucks, captained team Giannis at the 2020 NBA All-Star Game, but the young star’s athleticism failed to inspire his team to victory. A noteworthy contender for the 2020 MVP award, Giannis’ performance in the league fall short of nothing but the best. Giannis earned a total $47.6 million with endorsements accounting for $28 million with salary/winnings at $19.6 million. 

17. James Harden

James Harden

Earnings: $47.8 million

‘The Beards’ is a face that NBA fans recognize with ease. An amazing player, James Harden who poses as one of the Houston Rockets notable offensive stars has had a successful stint in the NBA, which unfortunately has not produced any NBA Championship — a feat which the 30-year-old is actively pursuing. Harden who was a starter for Team LeBron at the 2020 NBA All-Star Game, put up an impressive performance to help his side triumph. Harden who is currently in the first year of his $171 million four-year contract extension with the Rockets earned $47.8 million as of May 2020. Endorsements account for $19 million while salary/winnings account for $28.8 million of his earnings.

16. Conor McGregor

Conor McGregor

Earnings: $48 million

Despite entering the octagon on just two occasions since 2016, Conor McGregor‘s solid reputation as one of the best MMA fighters the world has ever seen earned the Irishman a fortune. In January 2020, the Irishman defeated Donald Cerrone in 40 seconds via TKO to pocket $30 million. Aside from his fighting exploits, the fighter is a reputable business person who founded the Proper No. Twelve, an Irish whiskey distiller in 2018. As of May 2020, the star who was listed as the 16th highest-earning athlete has made $48 million with endorsement deals with top brands such as Reebok generating $16 million. His salary and winnings account for $32 million.

15. Jared Goff

Jared Goff

Earnings: $49 million

Young and rich, the first overall pick of the 2016 NFL Draft has had an impressive outing in his early years in the NFL. The young sensation who plays for the Los Angeles Rams was instrumental in the Rams Super Bowl LIII outing against the New England Patriots, which saw the Patriots triumph. The star who has appeared in the Pro Bowl on two occasions signed a four-year deal with the Ram worth $134 million. The deal which includes a signing bonus of $25 million and rooster bonus of $21 million will see Goff earn $110 million in guaranteed earnings, a record amount in the league. As of May 2020, the Jared Goff has earned $49 million with just $2 million from his endorsement and sponsorship deals.

14. Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy

Earnings: $52 million

Rory McIlroy, the current number one golfer in the world, according to the Official World Golf ranking is one of just two golfers to make the top-20 cut in the world’s highest-paid Athletes list for 2020. In 2019, the star proved that he is one of the best players in the league who is capable of rivalling golf legend, Tiger Woods. He had the biggest payday of his career in 2019 after he earned $15 million following his Tour Championship and FedEx Cup wins. The star who teamed up with NBC Sports in 2019 to launch Golfpass, a digital subscription-based platform which contains tips from coaches on golf has earned $52 million as at May 2020, with $30 million from endorsement deals and $22 million from salary and winnings.

13. Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton

Earnings: $54 million

The only Formula driver to make the top-20 cut, Lewis Hamilton who had an outstanding 2019 season which saw him claim his sixth Formula 1 Championship, making him the second F1 driver to reach the feat, had to hold on his title defence due to the postponement of the Formula 1 season. With the season set to begin in July, Hamilton will have a shot at claiming a 7th Formula 1 Championship. The star who signed a two year £40 million deal with Mercedes in 2019 earned $54 million as at May 2020. Being the most marketable F1 star, he earned a total of $12 million from his endorsement deal portfolios.

12. Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook

Earnings: $56 million

One of the NBA top stars, Russell Westbrook who signed a five-year deal with the Oklahoma City Thunders on 2017 worth $207 million has the highest contract in the NBA, in terms of overall value. He was traded to the Houston Rockets in 2019, where he has continued his fine playing form. The first NBA player to record triple-doubles in three successive seasons signed a ten-year deal with Nike Air Jordan brand in 2017 and had his first signature shoe released in 2018. The star has earned $56 million as at May 2020 with his endorsements generating $27 million.

11. Tyson Fury

Tyson Fury

Earnings: $57 million

The ‘Gypsy King’ who was recently rated as the world’s best active Heavyweight boxer by ESPN, has had an amazing outing in 2020. In a highly anticipated rematch of his bout against Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury pulled impressive tactics to defeat the American star. For his win, he pocketed $26 million, one $1 million more than his opponent. He also made a very lucrative payday following his appearance at the WWE Saudi Arabia event in October 2019 which was not without controversy. The star who released his autobiography in November 2019, which sold over 200,000 copies made $57 million within the 12 month period which ended in May 2020. He earned $7 million from endorsement deals.

10. Carson Wentz

Carson Wentz

Earnings: $59.1 million

Another 2016 NFL Draft pick to make the top cut in the Highest-Paid athletes’ list, Carson Wentz was drafted second in the 2016 NFL Draft, and he proved to be worth the pick. The star who right from his rookie season had displayed great talents proved very instrumental to the Philadelphia Eagles as they claimed their first Super Bowl ring at the Super Bowl LII. The Eagles star who had appeared at the Pro Bowl on one occasion, signed a four-year $128 million deal with the Eagles in 2019, with $107 million guaranteed. Wentz who boasts of notable endorsement portfolios earned $59.1 million for a 12 month period which ended in May 2020. Endorsements account for $4 million of his earnings.

9. Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins

Earnings: $60.5 million

Since he departed the Washington Redskins in 2018, Kirk Cousins has been enjoying paychecks only a few in the NFL can lay claim to. The Minnesota Vikings star signed a three-year deal as a free agent with the franchise in 2018 worth $84 million, which ranked him as the highest-paid player in the NFL on an annual basis. In March 2020, with his deal set to expire, he penned a two-year deal worth $66 million. The deal which includes a $30 million signing bonus also makes him the league’s top-paid star from June 2019 to June 2020. As at May 2020, the star has made $60.5 million with $2.5 million from endorsement deals.

8. Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods

Earnings: $62.3 million

The only golfer to make the top-10 highest-paid list cut, Tiger Woods who is one of the few elite athletes to have earned over a billion dollar in their career claimed his first PGA Tour win in 2018 after he won the Tour Championship. He also made headlines in 2019 after he won the 2019 Masters, his first Masters wins in more than 10 years. Woods made just $62.3 million within a 12 month period which ended in May 2020. Endorsements account for more than 90% of his earnings, as he just earned $2.3 million from winnings.

7. Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant

Earnings: $63.9 million

Despite not featuring in games in the 2019/20 season and battling Coronavirus, which he has since recovered from, Kevin Durant still made the top-10 cut. The star who was traded to the Brooklyn Nets in July 2019 signed a four-year deal worth $164 million with the franchise. The sportsman who also doubles as a business-oriented individual has invested in about 40 companies and had had business dealings with top brands such as Apple, Fix and ESPN through his media company. Over a 12 month period, Durant earned $63.9 million with his endorsements accounting for $35 million.

6. Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry

Earnings: $74.4 million

Golden State Warriors frontman, Stephen Curry who had barely returned to the league after being out for about three months due to a fractured metacarpal before the league was suspended, ranks as one of the NBA top earners despite doing little play. The star who penned the first contract in the NBA to surpass $200 million has received the most salary in the league for three successive seasons. Curry who has an investment in several industries manages his investments through his company, SC30. He earned $74.4 million for a 12 month period. Endorsements account for $44 million of his earnings.

5.  LeBron James

LeBron James

Earnings: $88.2 million

LeBron James making the top-5 cut comes as no surprise as this was expected, but the question was how much will he make? The star who signed a four-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018 which is worth $153 million, ranks as the highest earner in the NBA over a 12 month period with $88.2 million. LeBron who boasts of the most profitable endorsement portfolio in the NBA made $60 million from endorsement deals.

4. Neymar Jr.

Neymar Jr

Earnings: $95.5 million

The Brazilian sensation is currently the most successful active Brazilian athlete at the moment. Riding high in his top form, Neymar Jr has negotiated lucrative deals which have ensured he stays at the top-5 highest earners spot for several years now. The star who is currently on a five-year deal with Ligue 1 club, PSG, which will see him receive $350 million in salary, became the first soccer ambassador for the Nike Jordan brand. His partnership with the brand has produced a movie about the Brazilian’s life. Neymar earned $95.5 million over a 12 month period, with endorsement deals raking in $25 million.

3. Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi - Highest-Paid Sportsperson

Earnings: $104 million

The reigning  Best FIFA Men’s Player and the first player to win six Ballon d’Or awards, Lionel Messi who lay claim to several records in football took a 70% pay cut so as to enable club employee get 100% salary during the suspension of the league. Despite taking a 70% pay cut, the star who is set to renew his deal with Barcelona at the conclusion of this season and currently earns about $80 million from his current contract still ranks as one of the highest-paid sports stars in the world. His Adidas lifetime ambassador earned $104 million over a 12 month period, with endorsement accounting for $32 million.

2. Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo CR7 - Top-Paid Athlete

Earnings: $105 million

Juventus star, Cristiano Ronaldo is among the notable footballers who agreed to pay cut as a result of inconveniences caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. The star who sacrificed $4.24 million of his earnings, still ranks as the highest-earning footballer in the world with $105 million, $4 million less than his previous year’s earning, but enough to make him the highest-paid footballer in the world, after he narrowingly surpassed his Argentine rival by $1 million. Of his $105 million earnings, Ronaldo raked in $45 million in endorsement and is on track to become the third athlete to surpass the $1 billion earning mark in their career.

1. Roger Federer

Roger Federer - Highest-Earning Athlete

Earnings: $106.3 million

As a result of the COVID 19 pandemic, several tennis events were cancelled including a Grand Slam event, the Wimbledon, and this had a huge impact on Swiss tennis star, Roger Federer’s earnings from winnings. But despite the blow the pandemic had on his winning earnings, Federer’s endorsement deal portfolio made him the top-earning athlete over a 12 month period. The star who signed a 10-year deal with Japanese brand Uniqlo, in 2010 worth $300 million earned $106.3 million, with endorsements accounting for $100 million.


What are your thoughts about these top-earning athletes in 2020? Feel free to share with us in the comments section below.

Reference: Forbes

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