The highest-paid athletes from around the world has been assembled from their annual salaries only, but these players often make much more than their athletic clubs pay them for kicking, throwing or hitting balls. Professional athletes make serious bank from their product endorsements and even their own brand-name products. Here’s the top 12 Highest Paid Sportsmen In The World!
12. Kevin Durant, NBA forward, now of the Golden State Warriors
Kevin Durant, 27, signed a $20.2 million annual contract with the Golden State Warriors as a free agent, leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder fans feeling bereft. Durant could have been drafted into the NBA straight out of high school, but he chose to attend the University of Texas for one year. When he entered the 2007 NBA draft, the Seattle SuperSonics, now the Thunder, picked him in the first round as the second pick overall. As a forward for the Thunder, he lead the team to the playoffs six of the eight years he was on the team and earned NBA Rookie of the Year award in 2008. The NBA’s 2014 MVP and four-time scoring champion Durant takes his skills to California to benefit the Golden State Warriors’ record-breaking team.
Durant joins three other NBA All-Star players on the team: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Having four All-Star players on the team makes the Warriors the overwhelming favorites to win the next NBA season and provides an excellent reason for providing Durant with his hefty annual salary.
11. Ben Roethlisberger, NFL Quarterback, Pittsburgh Steelers
The 12-year NFL veteran Ben Roethlisberger, 34, earns his $21.85 million annual paycheck because he’s consistently one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Roethlisberger, a two-time Super Bowl champion, was the youngest quarterback to ever lead a team to a Super Bowl championship win. He was drafted into the NFL out of Miami University (Ohio) as the Steelers’ first round pick, 11th overall, in 2004. Since becoming the starting quarterback early in his rookie season, he has led his team to the playoffs eight times.
Roethlisberger has had the most passing yards in the league in 2014, a record he shared with New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees. His overall passer rating is 94.0, a very good score. This year the NFL has ranked him number 21 in its 2016 list of the Top 100 players, up from number 26 last year.
This wealthy athlete devotes much of his time and money to the benefit of his community. He has his own charity, the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation, which benefits police men and women and fire fighters, and service dogs as well as the residents of his hometown of Findlay, Ohio and his adopted home town, Pittsburgh.
10. Russell Wilson, NFL Quarterback, Seattle Seahawks
The 27-year old quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, Russell Wilson will earn $21.9 million this year. It’s his fifth season in the league, all as the starting quarterback. In his previous four seasons, the former University of Wisconsin Badger led the team to the playoffs and won the 2015 Super Bowl.
Wilson was just a third-round draft pick in 2012, but ended up winning the NFL’s Rookie of the Year award. Last season he was the NFL’s passing leader and is overall passer rating is an excellent 101.8. The athletic Wilson had sought a baseball career before becoming a professional football player.
He had been drafted in 2010 for major league baseball and played at second base for two summer seasons in the minor leagues before returning to college and pursuing his football career. Wilson is ranked 17th on the NFL’s 2016 Top 100 Players list, up from 22nd last year.
9. Aaron Rodgers, NFL Quarterback, Green Bay Packers
Rodgers, 32, earns a $22 million salary in his eighth year as the starting quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. The Packers pay their hired gun a premium wage because Rogers has a fast pass release and the best touchdown-interception ratio in NFL history (4.05). He holds the record for the highest single-season passer rating, 122.5 and has the league’s best all-time career passer rating, 104.7. He has the lowest interception percentage in league history, too: 1.6 percent.
The league’s best and most accurate passer had been passed over early in his collegiate career. Despite his high school records and film, Rodgers wasn’t offered a NCAA Division-one school athletic scholarship. Instead, he played at Butte Community College near his California home and led the team to a nationwide number two team ranking.
After that season, Rodgers played quarterback for the University of California – Berkley, but he credits Butte Community College as his alma mater. In the 2005 NFL draft, Rodgers was again passed over, going to the Packers as the 26th pick in the first round.
The two-time NFL MVP and 2010 Super Bowl MVP went from obscurity to being one of the best-paid athletes in the world. The NFL has ranked him sixth on its 2016 annual Top 100 Players list, down from a career-high ranking of first in 2012.
8. Joe Flacco, NFL Quarterback, Baltimore Ravens
Joe Flacco, 31, accepted a three-year contract extension that earns him $22.13 million annually. The 2013 Super Bowl MVP was a first-round draft pick in 2008 when the Ravens selected him 18th overall. Flacco won the NFL Rookie of the Year award and has taken his team to the playoffs six times in his seven seasons as the team’s starting quarterback.
Despite having the best arm strength among NFL quarterbacks, Flacco, with an 84.8 passer rating, did not make the NFL’s top 100 players list for 2016. In 2015, he was ranked 97, down from a career high ranking in 2011 of 19.
7. LeBron James, National Basketball Association (NBA) forward, Cleveland Cavaliers
LeBron James, 31, earns $23.2 million a year as a starting forward and team leader for the 2016 basketball champion Cavaliers. He earns his paycheck by being the number one player in the league since 2011, as ranked by both ESPN and Sports Illustrated. ESPN ranks James third among all players, past and present, behind Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
James, or King James as his fans call him, was the first pick in the 2003 NBA draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers, right out of high school. He has been on three NBA champion teams and has been named NBA finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) each time. James was selected as the NBA’s most MVP four times and NBA Rookie of the Year in 2004. He led the league as the NBA Scoring Champion in 2008.
Off the court, James is often seen as the NBA’s most popular and influential player. He has surprised fans with his acting abilities, especially in last year’s film Trainwreck and when hosting Saturday Night Live. He has voiced his opinions on national controversies like the Trevon Martin case and actively supported President Barak Obama’s candidacy.
6. Andrew Luck, National Football League (NFL) Quarterback, Indianapolis Colts
Luck, 26, signed a six-year contract extension that yields him $23.33 million annually as the starting quarterback for the Colts. The Heisman trophy runner-up was the number-one draft pick in 2012 and is starting his fifth year in the league, all as the starting quarterback.
In 2014, the Stanford graduate led the league in passing touchdowns, but struggled with injuries in the 2015 season, the only season that he didn’t lead the Colts to the playoffs. Despite the rocky 2015 season, Luck’s passer rating, a measure of a quarterback’s effectiveness, is a respectable 85 (the highest rating ever is 122.5). The NFL has ranked him at 92 in its 2016 annual ranking of the league’s top 100 players, down from 7 in 2015.
Luck, who has never played in the Super Bowl, earns more than NFL players on this list who have played in and won the Super Bowl.
5. Zlatan Ibrahimović, FIFA football striker, Manchester United
Zlatan Ibrahimović, 34, earns $30 million from his one-year contract with Manchester United. He had considered finishing with football when his Paris Saint-Germain contract ended in 2016, but decided to continue playing another year.
Ibrahimović is a mixture of cultures, beliefs, playing styles and passions. The Swedish native’s parents are from Bosnia and Croatia. One is Muslim; the other Catholic. Ibrahimović believes in a mixture of both religions with other world religion beliefs mixed in.
On the pitch, he is known for his unique playing style and his hot temper. As a player, his style is aggressive and physical. He is a high scorer and is known for scoring in clutch situations during important matches. Unfortunately, his aggressive style has led some to label him a dirty player. Ibrahimović has also been aggressive and physical with his teammates, coaches, refs and opponents, both on and off the field.
Away from football, Ibrahimović has shown that his aggressive nature is mixed with big heart. When he played in Sweden, he sent the Swedish national football team for the mentally impaired to Brazil to compete in the international World Football Championships. In his physical way, he supported and called attention to world hunger by removing his playing jersey during a game to display on his body the names of 50 people around the globe who suffered from hunger.
4. David Price, MLB pitcher, Boston Red Sox
Price, 31, earns $31 million a year as a Boston Red Sox pitcher, but Price didn’t always want to pursue a career in sports. Baseball clubs were interested in him right out of high school, but Price chose to attend Vanderbilt University on an academic scholarship instead. In fact, Price considered quitting college ball to focus on his studies, but a coach talked him out of it. When he joined the MLB draft in 2007, the Tampa Bay Rays selected him as the first pick overall.
As a pitcher, the 2012 American League Cy Young award winner is known for his fastball’s speed (98 mph) and the fast pace he sets on the mound. Once he receives the ball from the catcher, he throws the next pitch without delay.
3. Clayton Kershaw, Major League Baseball (MLB) pitcher, Los Angeles Dodgers
Kershaw, 28, makes $32 million as a pitcher in his eighth year as a starter with the Dodgers. Drafted right out of high school in 2006, the three-time National League Cy Young Award winner has a 2.39 ERA (earned run average), which is very low – and very desirable – for a pitcher. In fact, he’s led the National League four times with his outstandingly low ERA. He has also led the league three times in strike-outs and two times in wins. In 2014, he pitched a no-hitter and was named the National League’s most valuable player.
Sports analysts credit his unique pitching style for Kershaw’s success on the mound. He hides the ball as he pitches and doesn’t telegraph the kind of pitch he’s about to throw to the hitter, which makes his pitches difficult to hit. Kershaw also adds side steps to his wind-up, which makes it difficult for runners on first base to steal second.
2. Lionel Messi, FIFA football forward, FC Barcelona
Argentinian native Messi, 29, is almost always mentioned in the same breath as Ronaldo. Messi, a FC Barcelona’s striker, is seen as Ronaldo’s closest competition and rival. His annual salary is a few million short of Ronaldo’s at just $53.4 million. He has made the Forbes list of highest-paid athletes since 2013 and ranks number two in 2016.
Like Ronaldo, many consider Messi to be the greatest FIFA football player currently playing the game. His professional career began in 2004 in Barcelona, but he started with the team in 2000, when he was just 13. The team moved him and his family from Argentina to Spain and covered the cost of his medical treatments while he played in Barcelona’s youth academy.
Like Ronaldo, Messi has won the FIFA World Player of the year three times. Messi has won the European Golden Shoe award for top scorer three times and the European Ballon d’Or five times, more than any other player – including rival Ronaldo.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo, FIFA football forward, Real Madrid
At 31 years old, Portuguese national Ronaldo makes the highest annual salary of any professional athlete in the world: $56 million, not including endorsements. Forbes magazine has ranked him number one in their annual list of highest-paid athletes for 2016, a list he has appeared on since the list’s inception in 2012.
Ronaldo has earned his number-one rank. He has won the FIFA World Player of the year three times, the European Ballon d’Or award as the top player of the year three times and is the only player to have won the European Golden Shoe award for the top goal scorer four times.
According to ESPN, Ronaldo is the most well-known athlete in the world and is often called the best football player in the world. He began his professional career at age 18 in 2003 and has played in three FIFA World Cups, winning it for Manchester United in 2013. Last summer, he captained Portugal’s national team to its 2016 European Championship win over France.