The annual list of the highest-earning athletes in the world for 2023 has been released by Sportico, and the financial numbers are truly staggering. The top earners from various sports have not only earned huge salaries but have also raked in hefty sums from sponsorship deals, firmly solidifying their position as the world’s highest-paid athletes.
The top seven highest-earning athletes in 2023 were a star-studded line-up of superstars from football, basketball, golf, and more. Let’s take a closer look at the seven highest-paid athletes in 2023.
#1 Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the most iconic figures in the world of football, secured the top spot on the list of highest-earning athletes for 2023. After completing a move to Saudi Pro League club Al-Nassr on December 31, 2022, Ronaldo became the highest-paid athlete in the world, earning a staggering £175 million per year from his club. In addition to his astronomical wages, Ronaldo also enjoys lucrative sponsorship ties with leading global brands like Nike, Tag Heuer, and Armani. As a result, his total earnings in 2023 amounted to an estimated £218 million.
#2 Jon Rahm
Spanish golfer Jon Rahm had a remarkable year in 2023, winning the Masters and playing a key role in Europe’s Ryder Cup triumph. Rahm, who recently left the PGA Tour to join the LIV Golf Tour, earned an impressive £161 million, securing the second spot on Sportico’s list of highest-paid athletes.
#3 Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi, one of the most decorated footballers of all time, continued to soar to new heights in 2023. The Argentina captain clinched his eighth Ballon d’Or award and made a major career move by joining MLS club Inter Miami. In 2023, Messi earned an outstanding £52 million in wages from Inter Miami and PSG, in addition to a sizable amount from endorsement deals, bringing his total earnings to £103 million for the year.
#4 LeBron James
The face of the NBA, LeBron James, made over £99 million in 2023, securing the fourth spot on the list. With £36 million in wages from the LA Lakers, James also capitalized on his off-court earnings through endorsement deals, solidifying his position as one of the highest-earning athletes in the world.
#5 Kylian Mbappe
French football sensation Kylian Mbappe, often regarded as the heir to Ronaldo and Messi in world football, earned approximately £99.2 million, ranking him fifth on the list. With a mega salary from PSG, combined with lucrative sponsorship deals, Mbappe continues to cement his status as one of the top-earning athletes globally.
Mbappe’s former PSG teammate, Neymar Jr., completed a summer transfer to Saudi Pro League giants Al-Hilal in 2023. Despite being sidelined with a cruciate ligament injury, Neymar pocketed £96 million through wages and endorsement deals, maintaining his popularity and financial success.
#7 Stephen Curry
Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry secured the seventh spot on the list, earning around £78.5 million in 2023, including sponsorship deals. As the first NBA player to earn over $50 million per year in salaries, Curry continues to dazzle both on and off the court.
The exceptional financial success of these athletes not only showcases their prowess in their respective sports but also solidifies their status as global icons. With astronomical wages and lucrative sponsorship deals, these athletes have truly redefined what it means to reach the pinnacle of success in the world of sports.