Top-10 Highest-Paid Sports In The World 2020

Highest-Paid Sports In The World
Photo: Keith Allison / CC BY-SA

What is the highest-paid sport?

There are different sports currently on earth, with each having their supporters, winners and losers. It’s no surprise why kids and adults are jeered towards starting a sports career because of fun, passion and huge salaries. 

While some sports are physically demanding and require high intensity from professional athletes, there are also high rewards and bonuses attached to the athletes. Forbes magazine is known for publishing the lists of highest-paid athletes around the globe yearly.

SportyTell takes an in-depth look at the top-10 highest-paid sports in the world based on the athlete’s average salary on an annual basis, coupled with earnings from endorsements and sponsorship deals. Notably, some of the actual wages may not be as high, but when winnings and bonuses are calculated, it becomes really lucrative and astoundingly rewarding.

RELATED: Top-20 Richest Athletes In The World 2020

The Highest-Paid Sports In The World

10. Tennis

Tennis - Roger Federer

Avg. Tennis Player Salary: $38,800

Tennis is a major Olympic game in which two players compete against one another. They aim to hit the tennis ball to the opposite side of the court so that the opponent cannot return it successfully. Different cup tournaments, such as Grand Slam series, etc. attracts high prizes with millions of dollars in earnings. Winners of such competitions secured millions of dollars, and star contracts and sponsorships, which makes tennis one of the most lucrative sports in the world.

Tennis stars like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Serena Williams earn millions of dollars yearly from salary/bonuses and sponsorship deals with Nike, Adidas and other world’s big brands. In 2020, according to reports, Roger Federer is the most paid athlete and tennis player in the world, earning a total of $106.3 million, with endorsements alone accounting for about $100 million of that sum. As of 2020, the average tennis player salary is estimated at $38,800 per annum.

9. Association Football (Soccer)

Association Football - Cristiano Ronaldo

Avg. Soccer Player Salary: $1.6 Million – $3.2 Million

World football is not just about the passion, but big professional business and many players are earning billions of dollars every year. It seems pretty easy to make money from football, but the game requires fitness, excellent skills with the ball coupled with patience, tactical thinking, and team player skills in the game. 

Top football players like Cristiano Ronaldo earned an enormous amount of money from salary, numerous endorsements, transfer markets etc. In 2020, CR7 earned a massive $105 million from salary/winnings and endorsement deals, thus, becoming the 2nd highest-paid athlete in the year. Cristiano Ronaldo also became the first soccer player in the world to reach the $1 billion mark in career earnings. As of 2020, the average footballer’s salary is estimated at around $1.6 million – $3.2 million per year.

8. Ice Hockey

Highest-Paying Sports - Ice Hockey

Avg. NHL Player Salary: $1.54 Million – $3.54 Million

Ice hockey is a team sport played on the ice field, where players throw the puck into the opponent’s net more times than the opposing team. It is the fastest sports game. The winning team is the team that has thrown a higher number of pucks into the opponent’s net. 

The National Hockey League (NHL) has made Ice Hockey one of the highest-paying sports in the world with its players frequently taking top positions on the Forbes list of highest-paid athletes. Currently, Sergei Fedorov is one of the most prominent ice hockey players, that has earned an impressive net worth amounting to $40 million. As of 2020, the average NHL player salary is estimated between $1.54 million – $3.54 million, making Ice Hockey one of the highest-paying sports in the world.

7. Golf


Avg. Golfer Salary: $43,983

Golf is among the most popular sports in the world, played by millionaires and also billionaires. It is preferred mostly by financial elites and viewers around the world, allowing the flow of funds into the game. Players must score the ball in the hole with the help of different clubs as the case may be, using the least amount of strokes.

Tiger Woods became the most successful sportsperson in the world and topped the top-earning athletes’ chart from 2002 to 2011, and again in 2013 with $78.1 million. As of 2020, Forbes listed him as the 8th highest-paid athlete in the world, with $62.3 million earnings. Tiger Woods’ net worth is currently estimated at $800 million, making him the 4th richest athlete in the world as well as the wealthiest golfer ever. Famous golf players like Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead, and Jack Nicklaus cemented their position in the sport’s history, earning millions of dollars during their playing time. The average professional golfer’s salary is currently estimated at $43,983 per annum.

6. Auto Racing

Formula 1 - Auto Racing

Avg. Auto Racing Driver Salary: $44,848

Auto racing is notably among the world’s highest-paid sports. It is indeed competitive with excitements, sports prizes, and certificates. Racers are fueled by courage, and the desire to arrive at the finish line first and unharmed. However, life-threatening risks are compensated with high prizes, different brands of supercars, etc.

Several racing events like the Grand Prix of Formula 1, Moto GP and NASCAR have become one of the most-watched sporting events (with over 550 million people), making it one of the most profitable sports. The all-time highest-paid racers include Sebastian Vettel, Michael Schumacher, and Fernando Alonso. In 2020, Forbes ranked Lewis Hamilton as the 13th highest-paid athlete in the world, earning about $54 million. Michael Schumacher remains Formula 1 brightest star earnings about $1 billion in his career. As of 2020, the average auto racing driver salary is estimated at $44,884 per annum.

5. Wrestling

Wrestling - WWE

Avg. Wrestler Salary: $50,000

Professional wrestlers are paid heavily to fight, whether for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), regional or local wrestling. Wrestlers rehearse and practice their moves or roles before performing on a live broadcast to entertain fans with their acrobatic styles. As of 2020, the average professional wrestler salary is estimated at $50,000 yearly, aside from mega bonuses and endorsement deals, making it one of the most lucrative sports in the world.

The likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock and John Cena have all earned millions of dollars in the WWE. Many wrestlers attend wrestling schools to learn moves, skills, physical strength, stamina and athleticism needed to become superstars.

4. Baseball


Avg. MLB Player Salary: $3.4 Million – $4.36 Million

Baseball is one of the most popular sports in the United States, and about eleven million Americans play baseball according to the US Census Bureau. Experts stated that hitting a baseball is one of the most challenging tasks in a baseball game, as it requires a good batting skill to hit the ball. It comes as no surprise, seeing that the batters and MLB players, in general, are paid hefty sums. As of 2020, the average MLB player salary is estimated at $4.52 million per year.

3. Boxing

Boxing - Top-Paying sport

Avg. Boxer Salary: $51,370

For the last four decades, Boxing has been among the most lucrative sport on the planet. Aside from the excitement of the game, it has also made its mark as a high paying sporting event. Boxing stars earn massive amounts from their fight purses, while even bagging lots of endorsement deals, and profiting from Pay-Per-View commissions. 

The likes of Mohamed Ali and Mike Tyson topped Forbes list as the highest-earning sportspeople in the world, with Tyson earning about $685 million in his boxing career. Retired and undefeated boxer, Floyd Mayweather earned $85 million income in 2002, and in 2014 he earned $105 million. He repeated the feat in 2018, due to his competent promotional policies earning $285 million making him the highest-paid boxer in 2018. Mayweather emerged is the highest-paid sportsman of the decade (1 January 2010 – 31 December 2019). As of 2020, the average boxer salary is estimated at $51,370 per year.

2. American Football

American Football - Most Valuable Sports

Avg. NFL Player Salary: $860,000

American Football (Gridiron) is, no doubt the biggest sport in North America. Census carried out confirmed the fact that 40% of viewers watching ESPN channels in the US American love football as their favourite sports. Also, sportspeople, schoolchildren and college students play American football regularly. 

NFL players engaged in one of the most physical sporting activity, in which athletes collide with one another in high speed. Football lineups contain 53 players (for backups) which are considered as a massive team lineup compared to any other sports. American football players regularly achieve top positions in the Forbes list of top-earning athletes in the world. Top NFL stars, like Matt Ryan, earn the most in the league. The average NFL player salary is currently estimated at $860,000 per year.

1. Basketball

Basketball - Highest-Paying Sports

Avg. NBA Player Salary: $7.4 Million

Basketball is the highest-paid sport in the world right now, and basketball tournaments such as NBA, FIBA, CBA, ABL, Asia League is among the world’s most valuable sports leagues ranking. Basketball Players get huge salaries from team managements, endorsement deals and signatures on shoes and jerseys to boost their yearly income. 

It is no surprise that basketball players always featured in any Forbes Magazine’s list of highest-paid sportspeople. The average NBA player salary is estimated at $7.4 million as of 2020 per year.

Top players like LeBron James and Stephen Curry are some of the top-earning NBA players with LeBron being the highest-paid basketball player for six consecutive years, earning 92 million dollars, with salary and endorsement deals inclusive. World’s leading basketball players in nations other than America, also earn high salaries of over 1 million dollars. 

RELATED: Top-10 Most Popular Sports In The World 2020

Final Words

The exhilaration, thrill, excitement and suspense sports brings is a testament to the fantastic effects sports has on humans. We can’t go without mentioning the fact that the sportspeople who are at the centre of every action enjoy substantial financial benefits. If you’re aspiring to join any sport based on how lucrative it is, we hope our article provided you with great insight.

What are your thoughts about our analysis of the highest-paid sports in the world? Please share with us in the comments section below.

Image credits: CC BY-SA

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