It’s no secret that the world of professional sports is often very well paid. And although our Dutch athletes bring in a decent annual income, their salaries cannot match those of athletes in Europe, South America and the United States – where the audience is bigger, and the money too.

Forbes financial magazine published released its annual list of highest-paid athletes earlier this year, and while there are certainly surprises, there’s one thing you can’t deny: the enormous profitability of the world of professional sports.

This is how the Forbes list works: it calculates the list based on what each athlete earns on the field, as well as what they earn in other ways. Argentinian soccer superstar Lionel Messi, for example, has a lifetime contract with Adidas. While LA Lakers basketball player LeBron James is also on the sidelines as a cultural force, following in the footsteps of fellow basketball player Michael Jordan in the upcoming Space Jam movie and also benefiting from a number of industry investments. sports and entertainment.

The amounts won on and off the field differ per athlete; 90% of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott’s income comes from his NFL contract, while Swiss tennis superstar Roger Federer has earned almost all of his income in recent years from endorsements thanks to a deluge of injuries. (Imagine continuing to collect $80 million in sponsorship revenue when you’re technically ill).

Find out below the highest paid athletes in the world and their annual earnings.

10. Giannis Antetokounmpo – €76m

Sports: Basketball

In the field: 38 million euros
Off-field: 39 million euros

The youngest player on this list, the undisputed MVP of the last NBA era, is finally turning the hype into big money. The Greek Freak currently holds the biggest contract in NBA history, which will pay him more than 162 million euros over five years. Also, for the first time, he has a list of sponsorship and investment deals that exceed his on-court earnings, including Nike, Google, WhatsApp, watch resale site Watchbox and NFT platform NFTSTAR.

9. Tom Brady – €79 million

Sports: Soccer

In the field: 30 million euros
Off the field: 49 million euros

The NFL GOAT has also been his big earner this year, thanks in large part to the smart steps the 43-year-old QB has taken to prepare for his inevitable retirement. TB12 founded his own sportswear brand this year, has his own production company Religion of Sports and co-founded the NFT Autograph platform, which raised more than €65 million in funding last year. He’ll also start earning massively in retirement thanks to a ten-year, $243 million contract he signed to join Fox Sports as the NFL’s chief analyst.

8. Canelo Alvarez – €85m

Sports: Boxing

In the field: 80 million euros
Off the field: 5 million euros

Canelo remains by far the highest-paid active boxer in the world right now, thanks in large part to the mega 10-fight deal he struck with DAZN a few years ago. In fact, few athletes in the world earn as much per match as the Mexican middleweight, and his earnings are supplemented by deals with Hennessy and his own promotion company, which hosts fights in the United States and Mexico.

7. Roger Federer – €86 million


In the field: 1 million euros
Off the field: 85 million euros

Federer, who is also a longtime member of the highest-paid athlete ranks, has turned his two-decade dominance on the court into one of the most lucrative sponsorship and investment portfolios of the century. Federer remains the athletic jewel in the crown of Japanese retail chain Uniqlo and is also one of Rolex’s most famous stalwarts. He has also invested in Swiss racing company On, which has boomed in recent years.

6. Kevin Durant – €87 million

Sports: Basketball

In the field: 40 million euros
Off-field: 47 million euros

Brooklyn Net free-scorer Kevin Durant is a longtime fixture on those lists, commanding huge contracts wherever he goes. He also happens to be Nike’s second highest paid NBA athlete and has one of the largest investment portfolios in the league.

5. Stephen Curry – €88 million

Sports: Basketball

In the field: 43 million euros
Off the field: 44 million euros

Steph Curry’s big return to the basketball court after a long series of injuries has been accompanied by a significant increase in athlete rankings. The Golden State Warrior has the richest contract in the NBA, earning him more than $39 million a year, while being one of Under Armor’s biggest sponsors and, like many of his NBA contemporaries, he owns his own production company.

4. Neymar – €90m

Sports: Soccer

On the ground: 66 million euros
Off the field: 24 million euros

While Neymar’s on-pitch career remains in a strange state of flux, the Brazilian wonderkid is nonetheless making money. His contract with PSG, like that of his No.1 team-mate, is one of the most important in world football, while receiving a huge financial boost from Nike’s switch to Puma as sportswear sponsor.

3. Cristiano Ronaldo – €109 million

Sports: Soccer

In the field: 57 million euros
Off the field: 52 million euros

The legendary Portuguese winger’s annual income is equally split between the midfield. Ronaldo has a massive contract with Manchester United after signing with them earlier this year, but as the world’s most marketable athlete he’s also bringing in millions through deals with Nike, Herbalife and Clear shampoo, and investments in Tatel and ZujuGP restaurants.

2. LeBron James – €115 million

Sports: Basketball

In the field: 39 million euros
Off the field: 76 million euros

King James, the NBA’s biggest name and most bankable athlete, continues to top the NBA earning list, thanks in large part to his off-court activities. James’ main driver of off-screen income is his production company Springhill, which helped bring the Space Jam sequel to life, in which he sold a significant minority stake last year. He also has sponsorship deals with Nike and, and investments in Tonal and sports tech startup StatusPRO.

1. Lionel Messi – €123m

Sports: Soccer

In the field: 71 million euros
Off the field: 52 million euros

The questionable GOAT was once knocked out of the top spot by Conor McGregor, but reclaimed his crown as the highest-paid athlete in the world. Messi’s contract with French superclub PSG is monstrous, earning him more than €58m a year, while his lifetime contract with Adidas and other sponsorship deals with Budweiser, Pepsi and Socios maintain his salary.