The financial figures in sport are enormous. The highest-paid athletes in the world make tens of millions per year.

While salaries take the headlines, like an NBA’s supermax contract or a footballer’s weekly wage, a lot of the biggest sports betting names collect a significant proportion of their income from endorsements or other business interests.

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The top 10 highest-paid athletes on the planet in 2021 according to Forbes is a list of names anyone interested in sports betting will be familiar with.

Lionel Messi topped the highest paid sportspeople figures in 2019 but tennis star Roger Federer is the new top dog, pipping Messi's long term Ballon d'Or winners list rival Cristiano Ronaldo to that lucrative top spot.

Highest Paid Athletes (2022):

  1. Conor McGregor - $180 million

  2. Lionel Messi - $130 million

  3. Cristiano Ronaldo - $120 million

  4. Dak Prescott - $107.5 million

  5. LeBron James - $96.5 million

  6. Neymar - $95 million

  7. Roger Federer - $90 million

  8. Lewis Hamilton - $82 million

  9. Tom Brady - $76 million

  10. Kevin Durant - $75 million

10) Kevin Durant

Only a few players will get a maximum contract after an injury as serious as Durant’s.

There’s uncertainty of how effective he’ll be when he returns to NBA action, but if he’s anywhere near the player we saw in Oakland, the Brooklyn Nets will be legitimate title contenders.

Durant missed much of the 2019 NBA playoffs, coming back in the Finals and suffering an injury that ruled him out of not just the series, but the following season too.

He waved goodbye to north California a matter of days later, signing with his close friend Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn.

9) Tom Brady

2021 has been a year to remember for 43-year-old Tom Brady. The greatest quarterback in NFL history may have left the New England Patriots behind but it was the same outcome as the 2020 season ended with Brady winning the Super Bowl.

Now playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Brady is one of the biggest draws in sport - with companies pushing to sign the NFL legend to advertise and market brands from all over the world.

The Brady name is a brand in itself and the Buccaneers will be hoping that the seven-time Super Bowl champion can lead the team to back-to-back Vince Lombardi Trophy triumphs come next February.

8) Lewis Hamilton

From one sporting legend to another, Lewis Hamilton is now the most successful driver in Formula 1 history. And in 2021, Hamilton will look to become the outright record holder for F1 world titles.

Everyone knows Lewis Hamilton. You don't need to be a Formula 1 expert to recognise the British driver and he will go down as one of the nation's greatest sportspeople. He is the only Briton on the 2021 Forbes richest athletes list.

Hamilton is a superstar and he has certainly earned his money during his time at Mercedes. Will he surpass the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to become the highest paid athlete in the world? Only time will tell...

7) Roger Federer

Yes, that's right - tennis legend Roger Federer comes next on the 2021 highest paid athletes charts.

His money earned from endorsements is by far the biggest figure on this list. Federer is extremely marketable – he’s universally well-liked and has been at the top of his craft for the best part of 20 years.

The 2020 tennis season has been something of a write off for Federer, though he is still able to hold his own against the best tennis players around despite his age.

A semi-final loss at Roland Garros was better than many expected, but the epic final loss at Wimbledon to Novak Djokovic was gutting. 2019 was his first year with no Grand Slam success but the Swiss' bank account may cheer him up.

6) Neymar

The Paris Saint Germain experiment is yet to reap rewards on the European stage, but Neymar and co. continue to collect silverware in France.

Neymar’s 2020 income is befitting of where many see him in world football: the best non-Messi, non-Ronaldo player on the planet.

He’s a player who divides opinion. The diving antics have turned many against him, and the decision to go to Paris to have his own team and take these astronomical wages leaves Neymar with an uncertain position in the sport.

His numbers remain staggering (around 1.5 goal contributions per match in Ligue 1), but PSG’s Champions League failures are an issue for Neymar’s standing in the sport.

Neymar is a common example when criticisms are paid of how much footballers are paid. Has he, or will he, ever live up to his potential?

5) LeBron James

If it was possible for LeBron James to become more visible, a move to the Los Angeles Lakers has done so.

James’ $53 million in endorsements is bettered only by Federer on this list to go alongside his maximum contract with the storied Los Angeles franchise.

LeBron James One of highest paid sportsmen
Photo credit: Mark J. Terrill / AP Photo


The four-time MVP had his worst year in 2019, suffering a groin injury on Christmas Day and missing the playoffs the first time since his first stint in Cleveland.

The summer months brought better news, however, as the Lakers gave him a fellow All-Star when they traded for Anthony Davis. A fourth NBA title could be on its way for LeBron soon...

4) Dak Prescott

Despite suffering a season-ending injury, Dak Prescott comes in fourth on the 2021 highest paid athletes and his lucrative contract for the year made him the top earning NFL player on the Forbes rich list.

Prescott earned $107.5 million through his contract and various endorsement and sponsorship deals, though his injury meant the Dallas Cowboys missed out on the NFC East title.

According to the latest reports, Prescott is on track to return ahead of the 2021 NFL season and the fourth highest paid sportsperson on the planet will hopefully justify his lofty salary in the coming months.

3) Cristiano Ronaldo

A first year in Italy brought a Serie A title to go alongside Champions League, La Liga, Euros and Premier League winners’ medals.

Unsurprisingly, Cristiano Ronaldo was awarded Serie A Footballer of the Year for 2019 to accompany his five Ballons d’Or and countless other individual accolades.

Cristiano Ronaldo is one of sport's biggest earners
Photo credit: Armando Franca / AP Photo


Ronaldo has been superior to Messi financially for much of his career, and his endorsement revenue remains almost $10 million greater, but he will have to settle for third spot in 2021.

The long-time rivals have been ever-presents at the top of Forbes’ list but we have a new sports athlete at the top of the highest-paid athletes rankings now...

2) Lionel Messi

Although first on the list of earnings during the 2010s, Lionel Messi has had to settle for second or third in most years past. That all changed in 2019 as his salary and endorsements took a major leap despite a public spat with Barcelona’s hierarchy.

He regained his status as the second highest paid athlete on the 2021 Forbes rich list, with only Conor McGregor earning more over the course of the year.

Messi now leads the way with the most Ballon d'Or wins and he remains as influential as ever at Camp Nou. He’s well into his thirties, but he remains the undisputed best player in the world, and he continues to carry what is a flawed Barcelona team to trophies.

1) Conor McGregor

One of the biggest names in UFC history, Conor McGregor takes his place at the top of the Forbes richest athletes for 2021. In all honesty, we probably could've predicted that 'The Notorious' was going to be up there.

His long-awaited rematch with Dustin Poirier attracted plenty of attention earlier in the year and the third edition of McGregor vs Poirier will take place this summer. McGregor net worth figures are likely to rocket even further...

The Irishman is an iconic figure amongst UFC betting fans and he deserves his status in the 2021 highest paid athletes rich list. Watch this space, McGregor could be here to stay for years to come.


*Credit for the main photo belongs to John Locher, File / AP Photo*

 

FIRST PUBLISHED: 7th April 2020

About the Author
By
Alex McMahon Sport

Alex is a sports betting tipster, specialising in Premier League football, the Champions League and horse racing.

He loves placing a weekly accumulator on the football at the weekend and dreams of landing the big winner that will take him back to Las Vegas.

As well as writing sports betting tips for 888sport since 2015, Alex has produced content for several international media companies, such as Goal.com and The SPORTBible.