Superstars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and LeBron James are among the highest-paid athletes in the world at the moment.
These legendary figures have honed their craft through years of arduous work. The mastery of their professions brings them fame, fortune and wealth as well.
Sportico have recently released a list of the sports’ highest earners for 2023. The financial numbers are quite eye-watering. Apart from their astronomical wages, these athletes earn hefty sums through sponsorship deals as well.
Footballers, Basketball superstars, Golfers, NFL superstars, and more were among 2023’s highest earners. In this listicle, we take a look at the seven highest-paid athletes in 2023.
#1 Cristiano Ronaldo
Arguably the face of football, Cristiano Ronaldo earns a mammoth wage from his club Al-Nassr. The Portugal captain completed a move to the Saudi Pro League club on December 31, 2022.
He’s paid a king’s ransom, £175 million per year, by the SPL side. Ronaldo’s presence has also been a massive boost for Saudi Arabian football as the league has had an exponential global expansion recently.
Cristiano Ronaldo, apart from his astronomical wage, also has sponsorship ties with leading global brands like Nike, Tag Heuer, Armani and more. He earned an estimated total of £218 million in 2023 and was the highest-earning athlete.
#2 Jon Rahm
Spanish golfer Jon Rahm had a dazzling 2023. The 29-year-old won the Masters last year and was also Europe’s hero in their Ryder Cup triumph against the United States.
Rahm, who recently left the PGA Tour to join the LIV Golf Tour, amassed a spectacular £161 million as a result of his triumphs on the golf course. The world no. 3 golfer ended up second on Sportico’s of highest-paid athletes.
#3 Lionel Messi
The records keep racking up for Lionel Messi. The Argentina captain took home his eighth Ballon d’Or award in 2023 and has won the honour thrice more than his eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo.
Messi also made a major career move last year, leaving European football to join MLS club Inter Miami. In 2023, he earned an outstanding £52 million in wages from the Herons and also PSG.
Moreover, Messi pockets a sizable amount from endorsement deals. The 2022 FIFA World Cup winner took home a total of £103 million last year and is third on Sportico’s list.
#4 LeBron James
LA Lakers superstar LeBron James made more than £99 million last year, ending up as the fourth highest-paid athlete in the world.
James, widely regarded as the face of the NBA, was paid £36 million by the Lakers in wages. Apart from his on-court earnings, James also boosts his wealth through endorsement deals.
The 39-year-old ended up making a fortune off the court as well and is in the top five of Sportico’s list.
#5 Kylian Mbappe
Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe is often considered Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s heir in world football. He rounds off the top five of the list.
The Frenchman is one of the coveted players in the world and is paid a mega salary by PSG. Last year, he earned around £80 million in wages from the Ligue 1 giants.
Apart from his salary, Mbappe also earns through sponsorship deals, shooting his total earnings up to a massive £99.2 million. The 25-year-old is the youngest name in the top five of Sportico’s list.
Kylian Mbappe’s former PSG teammate, Neymar Jr. completed a summer transfer to Saudi Pro League giants Al-Hilal in 2023. The Brazilian, though, has hardly played this season, having been sidelined with a cruciate ligament injury.
Despite his fitness issues, Neymar pocketed £96 million last year through wages and endorsement deals. The 32-year-old is a massively popular figure among fans and keeps winning in terms of his finances.
#7 Stephen Curry
Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry has magical skills and is a true entertainer. The NBA superstar earns around £50 million in salaries from the Warriors.
Curry was the seventh highest-paid athlete in 2023 and earned around £78.5 million last year (including sponsorship deals). The 35-year-old is notably the first NBA superstar to earn more than $50 million per year in salaries.