The World's Highest Paid Athletes of All Time (from 2016)

Forbes magazine, who calculates annually the highest-paid athletes of the year, have combined all their data to determine who is the highest paid athlete of all time. This list includes earnings up to and including 2016.

Jordan Highest of the Highest Paid

On top of this list is basketballer Michael Jordan, who had a long and well paid career and continues to make millions after leaving the game. He is still earning more money annually than all active NBA players. Second on the list, just behind Jordan, is Tiger Woods. If not for his temporary fall from grace, he would be on top. Golfers made up the 2nd to 4th positions, not surprising as it is a sport that players earn well, have large endorsements, have a long career and can continue to earn well after their playing career is over.

rank   Country Sport earnings (US$)*
1 Michael Jordan USA Basketball $1.7 billion
2 Tiger Woods USA Golf $1.65 billion
3 Arnold Palmer USA Golf $1.35 billion
4 Jack Nicklaus USA Golf $1.15 billion
5 Michael Schumacher Germany Motorsports $1 billion
6 Kobe Bryant USA Basketball $770 million
7 Floyd Mayweather USA Boxing $765 million
8 Phil Mickelson USA Golf $760 million
9 David Beckham England Football (Soccer) $730 million
10 Shaquille O'Neal USA Basketball $700 million
11 Mike Tyson USA Boxing $685 million
12 Greg Norman Australia Golf $680 million
13 Lebron James USA Basketball $640 million
14 Christiano Ronaldo Portugal Football (Soccer) $620 million
15 Roger Federer Switzerland Tennis $600 million
16 Alex Rodriguez USA Baseball $600 million
17 Lionel Messi Argentina Football (Soccer) $520 million
18 Jeff Gordon USA Motorsports $515 million
19 Oscar de la Hoya USA Boxing $510 million
20 Manny Pacquiao Philippines Boxing $490 million

source: data from Forbes online, December 2016. Earnings are in 2016 US dollar value.

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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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