Top 10 Highest Paid Athletes

Spend It Like Beckham has a look at who are the highest paid athletes of 2014:

10. Lionel Messi

Sport: Football (Barcelona)
Salary: £12.09 M
Endorsements: £12.51 M
Total Pay: £24.6 M

The first on our list of the highest paid athletes of 2014 is the little Argentine wizard. At 26, Messi has already won the La Liga 6 times, the Champions League 3 times, The Club World Cup twice, an Olympic Gold Medal, World Soccer Player of the Year 3 times and, the ultimate individual award for a footballer, The Ballon d’Or 4 times. That is a pretty impressive resume. No wonder Barcelona pay him such a high salary and why so many brands throw money at him to endorse their products.

Lionel Messi is the 10th highest-paid footballer

Messi scoring his 17th goal of the night.

9. Cristiano Ronaldo

Sport: Football (Real Madrid)
Salary: £13.7 M
Endorsements: £12.51 M
Total Pay: £26.21 M

There is probably not another athlete on the planet with the determination and drive as Cristiano Ronaldo. A perfectionist who, although arguably could be the greatest player of all time, has spent much of his career being compared to our number 10 Lionel Messi in a battle of who is the best. Only recently has Ronaldo managed to outshine Messi in the football awards world (he won the Ballon d’Or this year and stopped Messi winning it for a fifth consecutive year) but it also shows in the fact that he ranks 9th on our list of the highest paid athletes in the world.

Cristiano Ronaldo has a total pay of £26.21 M

“Man Utd pay me a lot, but Real Madrid…”

8. David Beckham

Sport: Football (Now Retired)
Salary: £3.1 M
Endorsements: £25.02 M
Total Pay: 28.12 M

Although now retired, David Beckham will always be a name synonymous with the world of football and sport. Hell, I named this blog after him! Beckham had a long and prosperous career playing for some of the biggest names in world football. After his goodbye stint with French Giants Paris St. Germain, he has again turned his focus to the USA where he is in the process of creating a football, or “soccer” franchise based in Miami. With the finances he has, as well as his impenetrable reputation, I’m sure he’ll be a success yet again with FC Chrissmith (I think it’s only fair that he names his football team after me seeing as I did the same for him with this site.)

David Beckham - the most famous name, face and hair in football

The most famous face, name and hair in football

7. Phil Mickelson

Sport: Golf
Salary/Winnings: £2.8 M
Endorsements: £26.21
Total Pay: £29.01

Old Lefty, as he’s more intimately known, is the first golfer on our list. The three time Masters winner’s winnings (that’s hard to say) have come from his more recent victories in the US Open and The Open Championship in the last year. While his winnings don’t come anywhere near the salaries of some of our other top 10, his endorsements certainly make up for it. Brands such as Rolex and Barclays pay this man great sums of money to endorse their products, putting him at number 7 on our list.

Phil Mickelson... does a lot of endorsements

“FORE…Ferraris please.”

6. Aaron Rodgers

Sport: American Football (Green Bay Packers)

Salary: £25.62 M
Endorsements: £3.57 M
Total Pay: £29.19

The big Green Bay Packers Quarterback comes in at number 6 on our list and is the first NFL superstar to be mentioned. While his forerunner on our list makes most of his fortune from endorsements, our man Rodgers is the opposite. He only gets a measly £3.57 M per year from his endorsements, but his whopping £25.63 M annual salary will certainly make up for the fact that Phil Mickelson is apparently a better brand champion.

Green Bay Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers

“Do I look good now?”

5. Drew Brees

Sport: American Football (New Orleans Saints)
Salary: £23.83 M
Endorsements: £6.55 M
Total Pay: £30.38

The New Orleans Saints Number 9 comes in fifth in our list, making him the highest paid NFL player on the list (that should get you thinking about the top 4!) For some reason, the man who has become the Big Easy’s most popular passer since Archie Manning doesn’t command a large a salary as Aaron Rodgers, despite leading all NFL quarterbacks in touchdowns, passing yards and 300 Yard games since 2006! But, again he is an example of how endorsements can change everything, with Brees earning nearly twice as much as Rodgers from big sponsors.

Drew Brees takes home £30.38 every year

“This hat cost more than your car”

 4. LeBron James

Sport: Basketball (Miami Heat)
Salary: £10.6 M
Endorsements: £25.02
Total Pay: £35.62

The 6 ft 8 inches Miami Heat forward is the first NBA name on the list, and comes in at 4 showing those NFL losers that basketball is where the real money is made! After spending 7 glorious years at the Cleveland Cavaliers, James left his adopted hometown for the glitz and glamour of Miami, and it seems to be working out well for him. Thanks to highly lucrative sponsorship deals with global giants such as Nike, McDonalds’s and Coca-Cola, James certainly is living the good life.

LeBron James is living the good life courtesy of Coca-Cola

“Are my names in the wrong order?”

3. Kobe Bryant

Sport: Basketball (LA Lakers)
Salary: £16.62 M
Endorsements: £20.25
Total Pay: £36.87

Kobe Bean Bryant comes in at number 3 and sets his place as the highest paid athlete in the NBA. The 35 year old has led a dazzling career, spent entirely with the LA Lakers. After cementing his place as the Lakers ‘main man’ after the departure of Shaquille O’Neal (with whom he had a successful partnership, but they were always competing for the spotlight.) This status gives him the highest salary out of all the NBA stars on the list (all two) and with him also clearing £20 M per year from his endorsements, Bryant is also living the good life. Even a little better than LeBron.

Kobe Bryant is the highest paid NBA player on the list

“Michael Jordan? Never heard of him…”

2. Roger Federer

Sport: Tennis
Salary/Winnings: £3.87 M
Endorsements: £38.72 M
Total Pay: £42.59

A record 17 Grand Slam titles (so far) including 7 Wimbledon titles, and arguably the greatest Men’s Tennis player of all time, Roger Federer is the only tennis player on the list, and still manages to come in at number two. Much like golfers, the winnings from various tournaments can’t compete with the mega salaries that other athletes in other professions bring in, but his endorsements would definitely seem to soften this blow. With £38.72 M per year coming in from corporate giants such as Nike & Rolex, the (arguably) greatest tennis player of all time can certainly claim a safe financial future.

The only tennis player on the list, Roger Federer comes in at a not too shabby 2nd

“I’m running out of trophy space…”

1. Tiger Woods

Sport: Golf
Salary/Winnings: £7.8 M
Endorsements: £38.72 M
Total Pay: £46.52 M

Mr. Woods, golf’s bad boy (if there can be such a thing) is our highest paid athlete. While his career, and his pursuit of The Golden Bear (Jack Nicklaus) for the mantle of greatest golfer ever may have derailed slightly after his much publicised affairs and troubles in 2009,  Tiger still comes in at number 1, clearing Federer in second by a good few million. This is the man who has lost sponsors in recent years, but big big bucks from endorsements such as Electronic Arts (the Tiger Woods PGA Tour video game manufacturers) and other big players such as Nike and Rolex (they seem to be endorsing everyone!) Tiger sits firmly as the highest paid athlete in the world. Just think how much more he would be worth if he hadn’t, well, let’s just say, been messing around in the rough.

Tiger Woods is the highest paid athlete in the world, making a cool £46.52 M

“I make £1.47 per second. Just let that sink in…”


Our list of highest paid athletes and figures all come from Forbes are are converted into GBP from USD using an exchange rate of 1:1.68.

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