This year, many big sports stars around the globe saw their bank balance swelled up like never before, thanks to their insane salaries in team sports and the high-profile matches they played. Signing major endorsement deals is another source for athletes to puff up their incomes. Today we look at athletes who have not only punched above their weight to gain money and fame but have become highest-paid athletes in the world in 2018.
Floyd Mayweather ($285 million)
The 41-year-old American boxer nicknamed ‘money’ tops the chart with 285 million in his kitty. He has punched above his weight to generate enough money from his fights in his career. In his fight against Conor McGregor in Las Vegas last year, Mayweather made an earning of $275 million and also played the role of a promoter ahead of the big fight. The showdown generated over $550 million in revenue and became the second most popular fight in pay-per-view history.
Lionel Messi ($111 million)
The Barcelona legend signed a contract extension last year which will keep him with the club through 2020-21 and pay him an annual salary and bonus in excess of $80 million. Messi’s earning comes from a lifelong deals with Adidas and also other brands such as Gatorade, Pepsi, Telecommunication company Ooredoo, Huawei and sunglass makers Hawkers. The Argentina star has also appeared in campaigns with Gillette and Turkish Airlines.
Cristiano Ronaldo ($108 million)
The Real Madrid legend finds himself at third position in the list with a net worth $108 million. The global soccer icon who moved to Italian side Juventus has a lifetime contract signed with sports brand Nike which is worth $1 billion. He is also the face of various other brands like Herbalife, EA Sports and American Tourister, along with his own lifestyle brand, CR7. The Portuguese star also has a chain of hotels which has opened after partnering with Portuguese group Pestana.
Conor McGregor ($99 million)
The Irish fighter is the biggest UFC star, who last stepped his foot in the Octagon was against Khabib Nurmagomedov which he lost via submission. The ‘Notorious’ one as he is called in the UFC circle received a big fat paycheque last year after his fight against Floyd Mayweather for which he was paid $85 million. The fight which had 4.3 million PPV buys, generated more than $550 million in revenue.
McGregor has signed for various brands, including Burger King, Beats by Dre, Monster Energy, David August, BSN, Anheuser-Busch, HiSmile and Betsafe. He also has a residency deal with the Wynn Las Vegas for all of his afterparties, and a company in the name of McGregor Sports and Entertainment Ltd. The 30-year-old also released his own whiskey brand named Proper Twelve, which has been doing outstandingly well in sales.
Neymar ($90 million)
The Brazilian superstar is fifth on the list this year. Last year in August, the former Barcelona forward signed a five-year contract with Paris Saint-Germain which was worth $600 million. Out of the total signing amount $250 million was paid to his former club to release him from his contract and the remaining $350 million will be paid in salary to the player whose deal expires in June 2022.
The 26-year-old has been building his brand empire off the field by signing with companies such as Nike, Red Bull, Gillette, McDonalds and Beats by Dre. Neymar has also designed three of his own timepieces for his brand, Gaga Milano, each costing more than £1,000.
LeBron James ($85.5 million)
The Los Angeles Lakers star and NBA’s four-time MVP has a very impressive portfolio when it comes to signing endorsement deals. The 33-year-old is the face of big brands like Nike, Coca-Cola (Sprite), Beats By Dre, Kia Motor, Intel and Blaze Pizza. James has his own production company (SpringHill Entertainment) and media company (Uninterrupted). He has signed a lifetime contract with Nike in 2015 rumored to be worth over $1 billion.
Roger Federer ($77.2 million)
The greatest men’s tennis player of all time has collected a total of $116 million in prize money in his career, but his earning off-court from appearances and endorsements has increased his wealth. Mercedes-Benz and Lindt renewed their deals with Federer at the end of 2017. He added pasta brand Barilla as a sponsor last year in a deal worth as much as $40 million. Federer’s longtime partners include Wilson, Credit Suisse, Mercedes, Rolex, Lindt, Jura, Moet & Chandon, Sunrise and NetJets. His foundation has raised more than $40 million with a goal to educate one million children in Africa by the end of 2018.
Stephen Curry ($76.9 million)
The king of three-pointers in the NBA league and a two-time MVP signed the NBA’s first $200 million contract last summer with his current team Golden State Warriors. Apart from the contract extension, Curry has a huge list of endorsement partners which include names like Under Armour, Chase, Vivo, eHi Brita, Bubble and JBL which generates an estimated $42 million income off the court.
Sony Pictures also added their name in the list by announcing a multi-year development and production deal with Curry this year. Curry and partners Jeron Smith and Erick Peyton founded a new production company by the name of Unanimous Media. The firm will develop and produce film and television projects which will focus on family, faith, and sports themes.
Matt Ryan ($67.3 million)
Known as the ‘Matty Ice’ among American football fans and players, the Atlanta Falcons quarterback became the first player in NFL(National Football League) to sign a contract worth $30 million-per-year. The deal set records in terms of average salary ($30 million), total value ($150 million), guaranteed money ($100 million) and signing bonus ($46.5 million).
After winning the super bowl in 2016, Ryan’s marketing profile shot up as various companies wanted to sign the player. The 33-year-old is the face of many big brands like Nike, Gatorade, Delta Airlines, IBM, Mercedes Benz, and Banana Republic.
Lewis Hamilton ($51 million)
The Mercedes driver failed to make the cut inside top 10 but the British racecar driver was handed a paycheque of £40 million a year until the end of 2020 after signing a new contract with his current employer.
He is the most marketable F1 driver in the sport, which includes a deal with companies like Mercedes-Benz, Tommy Hilfiger, Monster Energy, Puma, IWC, Sony, Bombardier, Bell Helmets, MV Agusta Motorcycles. Hilfiger signed Hamilton a brand ambassador this year in order to promote the Hilfiger Collection, Tommy Hilfiger Tailored line and its range of menswear, underwear, and swimwear.