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The World's Highest Paid Athletes List 2022

Sports around the world continue to be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, though it does not seem to have affected player earnings - there are still plenty of athletes earning big bucks.

The top earner for 2022 was Lionel Messi with earnings totaling 130 million US dollars. Messi was second last year, and topped the list in 2019. Last year's number one, Conor McGregor, dropped out of the top-10 altogether. There were two women in the top 50, tennis players Naomi Osaka (19th) and Serena Williams (31st).

See also the Forbes top-earning lists from other years.

Below is the top-10 of the highest earning sportspeople for 2022, taken from the annual list of highest-paid athletes published by Forbes magazine in June 2022.

Top-10 Highest Earning Sports people from 2022

Rank Name Sport Nationality Earnings* ($ million) Previous Year
1 Lionel Messi Soccer Argentina 130 2
2 LeBron James Basketball USA 121 5
3 Cristiano Ronaldo Soccer Portugal 115 3
4 Neymar Soccer Brazil 95 6
5 Stephen Curry Basketball USA 93 11
6 Kevin Durant Basketball USA 92 10
7 Roger Federer Tennis Switzerland 91 7
8 Canelo Alvarez Boxing Mexico 90 >20
9 Tom Brady American Football USA 84 9
10 Giannis Antetokounmpo Basketball Greece 81 19

Next on the list were: Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Matthew Stafford, Aaron Rodgers, Tiger Woods, Josh Allen, Lewis Hamilton, Tyson Fury, Naomi Osaka, Damian Lillard.

* note: The earnings totals (in US dollars) are derived from salaries, bonuses, prize money, appearance fees, licensing and endorsement income in the 12 months from May 1, 2021 to May 1, 2022. Taxes or agents' fees are not factored into the figures.

Lionel MessiMessi tops the list for the 2nd time

Highest Ranked For Each Sport in 2022

The highest ranked athlete from each sport in the top-50 is listed below. This year 9 different sports were represented on the list.

Overall Rank Name Sport earning ($ million)
1 Lionel Messi Soccer 130
2 LeBron James Basketball 121
7 Roger Federer Tennis 91
8 Canelo Alvarez Boxing 90
9 Tom Brady American Football 84
14 Tiger Woods Golf 68
17 Lewis Hamilton Auto-Racing 65
23 Mike Trout Baseball 35.5
35 Conor McGregor MMA 43

source: The full list of the top-50 highest earners was published on the Forbes website in May 2022.

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Lists Extra

Football/Soccer is clearly the world's most popular sport, and has the most popular athletes, but which sport has the fittest players (but not necessarily the greatest athlete). These players do not always earn the most. The best of the best have made it to our 7 Sporting Wonders Lists.

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