Who Are the Highest Paid Athletes of 2020?

Reading Time: 5 minutes read

The Coronavirus pandemic has affected, among other sectors, the world of sports not only in terms of health, but also economically, to the point that the majority of the athletes have seen their salaries reduced. But the highest paid athletes were luckier and did not even realize their reduced income because of their large amounts, based on their contracts already signed, and especially their millionaire sponsorship revenues remained untouched.

Every year, Forbes publishes a list with the 100 highest paid athletes in the world and this year the list has experienced some changes compared with 2019, due to the coronavirus impact. 

Male Stars Dominate the list

The list of the 100 includes athletes from 21 countries and this year only two women appear: tennis players Naomi Osaka (Japan) in 29th place with $37.4 million and Serena Williams (USA) in 33rd place with $36 million.

If we talk about the sports that generate the highest  millionaire income, the first on the list  is Basketball (NBA) followed by American football (NFL), Soccer and Tennis. Boxing/MMA, Golf, Racing, Baseball, Cricket and Formula 1 are the rest. 

Income Reductions

According to the Forbes 2020 ranking, the earnings of the world’s top athletes have fallen for the first time since 2016 due to the pandemic crisis that has caused havoc on sports by cancelling or postponing many important events. This only happened in World War II. 

From cricket to tennis, almost every sport, except American football, took a hit from the coronavirus lockdowns.


The figures

For the first time, Roger Federer is leading the list with $106 million, over Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, who have swapped the number one position in three of the last four years. The two football icons earned $209 million together, which compared with year 2019 is $28 million less, due to salary cuts implemented by many European football clubs after the leagues were stopped due to the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020.

The figures shown are pre-tax earnings and the endorsements are mentioned apart from each athlete’s income, and have to be added to their already millionaire earnings. 

The 100 highest paid athletes earned a combined total of $3.6 billion this year, which is 9% below 2019, and the first drop since 2016.

From the 100 people on the Forbes list, we are going to mention the top 10.

Top 10 Highest Paid Athletes 2020

  1. Roger Federer / Tennis / $106.3 million / Switzerland 

Endorsements: USD$100 million

  1. Cristiano Ronaldo / Soccer / $105 million / Portugal

Endorsements: USD$45 million

  1. Lionel Messi / Soccer / $104 million / Argentina

Endorsements: USD$32 million

  1. Neymar / Soccer / $95.5 million / Brazil

Endorsements: USD$25 million

  1. LeBron James / NBA / $88.2 million / USA

Endorsements: USD$60 million

  1. Stephen Curry / NBA / $74.4 million / USA

Endorsements: USD$44 million

  1. Kevin Durant / NBA / $63.9 million / USA

Endorsements: USD$35 million

  1. Tiger Woods / Golf / $62.3 million / USA

Endorsements: USD$60 million

  1. Kirk Cousins / NFL / $60.5 million / USA

Endorsements: USD$2.5 million

  1. Carson Wentz / NFL / $59.1 million / USA

Endorsements: USD$4 million

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