The World's Highest Paid Athletes of All Time (from 2017)

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 2017, and is not too different from the list compiled a year earlier. See the 2016 list of The World's Highest Paid Athletes of All Time.

Jordan is the Highest of the Highest Paid (again)

On top of this list, just as he was last year, is basketballer Michael Jordan, who had a long and well paid career and continues to make millions after leaving the game. Second on the list, just behind Jordan, is Tiger Woods. Despite currently playing, Woods is not gaining on Jordan.

Golfers made up four of the top six 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.

Boxer Floyd Mayweather (currently 9th) will jump up the list next year as the big payday from his August bout against Conor McGregor was not included in this calculation.

rank   Country Sport earnings (US$)* rank last year
1 Michael Jordan USA Basketball $1.85 billion 1
2 Tiger Woods USA Golf $1.7 billion 2
3 Arnold Palmer USA Golf $1.4 billion 3
4 Jack Nicklaus USA Golf $1.2 billion 4
5 Michael Schumacher Germany Motorsports $1 billion 5
6 Phil Mickelson USA Golf $815 million 8
=7 Kobe Bryant USA Basketball $800 million 6
=7 David Beckham England Football (Soccer) $800 million 9
9 Floyd Mayweather USA Boxing $785 million 7
10 Shaquille O'Neal USA Basketball $735 million 10
11 Lebron James USA Basketball $730 million 13
12 Christiano Ronaldo Portugal Football (Soccer) $725 million 14
13 Greg Norman Australia Golf $705 million 12
14 Mike Tyson USA Boxing $700 million 11
15 Roger Federer Switzerland Tennis $675 million 15
16 Lionel Messi Argentina Football (Soccer) $600 million 17
17 Alex Rodriguez USA Baseball $575 million 16
18 Jeff Gordon USA Motorsports $525 million 18
19 Oscar de la Hoya USA Boxing $520 million 19
20 Manny Pacquiao Philippines Boxing $510 million 20

Next on the list were Derek Jeter, Peyton Manning and Kevin Garnett (tied), Evander Holyfield and Andre Agassi.

source: data from Forbes online, December 2017. Earnings are in 2017 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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