The 20 Highest-Earning Athletes Of 2016

It may come as a surprise to nobody, but sport is a pretty big business these days. Indeed, between all the salaries, signing bonuses and endorsement deals, today’s young athletes can expect their hard work and dedication to pay off in gold. These 20 stars, for example, are the highest-earning sportspeople in the world from June 2015 to June 2016, according to Forbes, and all possess fortunes that put those of other players to shame.

20. Philip Rivers – $38 million

More than a decade into his career with the San Diego Chargers, NFL star Philip Rivers is still going strong. In fact, 2015 saw the Alabama native sign a $84 million extension to stay with the team for another four years, and he received $37.5 million of that in the year to June 2016. Add that to endorsements of $500,000, and Rivers is sitting pretty with $38 million added to his account in just 12 months.

19. Sebastian Vettel – $41 million

As one of only four drivers to have won the Formula One World Championship four times, Sebastian Vettel can afford to negotiate a high-figure salary. Currently, the German champion receives a $40 million annual sum from Ferrari – $10 million for every year he has won a title – as well as $1 million in endorsements.

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18. Russell Wilson – $41.8 million

While he may not earn a salary like Philip Rivers’, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson more than makes up for it in endorsement deals. In the 12 months to June 2016, for example, the Ohio native earned $10 million for backing products from Luvo and his fashion line Good Man Brand. And combined with his $31.8 million NFL salary, Wilson’s total income came in at a cool $41.8 million.

17. Rory McIlroy – $42.6 million

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After becoming the third youngest golfer to win ten PGA events, Rory McIlroy continued his run of successes into 2016. Indeed, the Northern Irish golfer’s multiple tournament victories – including the PGA Tour Championship – earned him $7.6 million in winnings. However, endorsements with Nike and Electronic Arts actually netted him five times as much, helping him pocket an overall sum of $42.6 million in the year leading up to June 2016.

16. Floyd Mayweather – $44 million

Floyd Mayweather may have retired in 2016, but he earned more than enough from June 2015 to make it onto Forbes’ prestigious list. The undefeated champion raked in $32 million from his final bout with Andre Berto, while his activities beyond the ring – namely, his clothing line TMT – brought in a further $12 million.

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15. Tom Brady – $44.1 million

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Although the controversial “Deflategate” scandal followed him well into 2016, Tom Brady still raked in a $36.1 million salary thanks to a two-year extension with the Patriots. Furthermore, endorsements with the likes of Under Armour and Tag Heuer bring the NFL star’s overall income for the 12 months to June 2016 up to a whopping $44.1 million.

14. Joe Flacco – $44.5 million

He’s without doubt the strongest thrower in the NFL, and Joe Flacco has made good on his golden arm. To illustrate, the New Jersey native inked a three-year contract with the Baltimore Ravens that saw him walk away with a $40 million signing bonus. And so on top of his salary and endorsements, Flacco’s year to June 2016 ended with a very comfortable $44.5 million in the bank.

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13. Eli Manning – $45 million

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Following his brother Peyton’s retirement in 2016, Eli Manning kept his family name going strong with overall earnings of $45 million from June 2015 to June 2016. The Louisiana-born quarterback – who led the Giants to victory in two Super Bowls – received a hefty $37 million salary for his efforts. The total included a $31 million signing bonus; he has also raked in $8 million in endorsements.

12. Tiger Woods – $45.3 million

Few golfers are as renowned as Tiger Woods, and the star maintains a high salary two decades into his career. And although back surgery forced him to miss the 2016 Masters Tournament, the 11-time PGA Player of the Year earned an impressive $45 million in endorsements, as well as a further $300,000 in game winnings, in the 12 months to June 2016.

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11. Lewis Hamilton – $46 million

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After winning his third Formula One World Championship in 2015, British-born Lewis Hamilton guaranteed his place in racing history. Moreover, the star received a lucrative extension from Mercedes, which paid him $42 million in 2016 alone. Add to that the $4 million received from brands like L’Oreal and Monster Energy, and Hamilton rested on a very nice $46 million sum for his 12 months of work to June 2016.

10. Kobe Bryant – $50 million

Another athlete to slip into retirement in 2016, Kobe Bryant still made a staggering amount during his final sporting year. In fact, as one of the NBA’s highest-paid stars, the former Lakers shooting guard was paid a $25 million salary and received a further $25 million through endorsements from June 2015 to June 2016.

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9. Jordan Spieth – $52.8 million

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Having led the U.S. to victory at 2016’s Ryder Cup, Jordan Spieth had an amazingly successful year. In addition to being named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People, moreover, the Texas-born PGA pro raked in $20.8 million from winnings and a further $32 million from endorsements alone in the year leading up to June 2016.

8. Phil Mickelson – $52.9 million

Just beating fellow pro Jordan Spieth’s earnings by a measly $100,000 is Phil Mickelson, who takes the crown as golf’s highest earner of 2016. Mickelson earned just $2.9 million from game winnings, however, and much of the California native’s $52.9 million income in the 12 months to June 2016 came from lucrative endorsements with brands like Rolex, Barclays and Exxon Mobil.

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7. Cam Newton – $53.1 million

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Cam Newton started 2016 as football’s MVP, and he seems to be ending it as the NFL’s most valuable player. During his 2015 to 2016 stint with the Carolina Panthers, moreover, the Georgia-born quarterback earned an eye-watering $53.1 million. And while most of this sum was gained through a five-year contract extension, Newton also pocketed $12 million through endorsements.

6. Novak Djokovic – $55.8 million

Novak Djokovic’s fans went “Nole Slam” crazy in 2016 after the Serbian tennis pro won all four major world tournaments. And as only the third player ever to do so, Djokovic understandably hit some serious pay dirt. Indeed, the number one ranked player in the world made $21.8 million in winnings and a further $34 million through endorsing companies like Peugeot and Seiko in the 12 months up to June 2016.

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5. Kevin Durant – $56.2 million

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Since signing with the Golden State Warriors earlier in 2016, Kevin Durant has certainly reaped the benefits of changing teams. Alongside his previous earnings with Oklahoma City Thunder, the NBA star racked up an impressive salary of $20.2 million. Furthermore, partnerships with Neff and Foot Locker netted him another $36 million, bringing his total earnings to $56.2 million for the year up to June 2016.

4. Roger Federer – $67.8 million

Roger Federer is well known for holding Grand Slam titles, but he also breaks records off the tennis court. In particular, the Swiss star consistently earns the most out of any athlete for endorsements, and the year up to June 2016 alone saw him rake in $60 million through companies like Nike and Rolex. His $7.8 million match winnings during that period, then, seem rather paltry by comparison.

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3. LeBron James – $77.2 million

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As the NBA Finals MVP of 2016, LeBron James has earned strong praise and an annual salary of $23.2 million with the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, it’s his work off court that has made him basketball’s highest earner. Endorsements with brands like Nike brought in a staggering $54 million from June 2015 to June 2016, while 2015’s Trainwreck has also set him on the road to movie stardom.

2. Lionel Messi – $81.4 million

No sport is as lucrative as soccer, and Lionel Messi is one of its biggest and best earners. And so despite toying with retirement in 2016, the Argentine forward had a highly successful year to June 2016, earning $53.4 million in salary and bonuses from F.C. Barcelona. In addition, Messi gained $28 million from endorsements – bringing his total earnings for the 12 months to $81.4 million.

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1. Cristiano Ronaldo – $88 million

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Cristiano Ronaldo is not just considered the best soccer player in the world – he’s also the highest earning athlete in the world to boot. With $88 million earned in the year to June 2016 alone, the Portuguese multiple-Ballon d’Or winner raked in a $56 million salary from Real Madrid as well as $32 million in endorsements from brands like Nike. Now that’s what we call success.

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