Meet The 5 Highest Paid Athletes Of 2024

This year’s top five highest paid athletes showcase the intersection of skill, fame, and financial success in the world of sports.

In the fast paced world of sports, athletic skill and prowess are just among the things that make an athlete successful. They also squeeze in their branding and endorsement obligations aside from training for their games. They harnessed their accomplishments to create a lasting legacy in the world of sports, inspiring both fans and aspiring athletes. Their talent and marketability propelled them to significant financial success, establishing them as some of the world’s highest paid athletes.

Forbes released a list of the world’s highest-paid athletes, each earning over $100 million, with a combined total income of $1.38 billion.

Here are five trailblazers who made significant strides in their respective sports as well as projects outside games.

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Giannis Antetokounmpo – $111 million

Giannis Antetokounmpo is a professional basketball player who plays forward for the Milwaukee Bucks. The Greek-Nigerian athlete has been playing for about 10 years according to his National Basketball Association (NBA) profile.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is included in “Forbes’” list of highest paid athletes in 2024
Giannis Antetokounmpo is included in “Forbes’” list of highest paid athletes in 2024/Photo via Instagram @giannis_an34

Forbes said Antetokounmpo earns $46 million from playing and $65 million off the field, accumulating a total payout of $111 million. He is currently recovering from a calf injury and missed the final three games of the Bucks’ playing season. But as per CBS Sports, he will play for Greece in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament which will be held from July 2 to 7 in Greece, Latvia, Puerto Rico, and Spain.

Antetokounmpo manages a production company and partnered with Pepsi’s Starry soft drink earlier in February. He is set to release his sixth signature sneaker with Nike later this year.

LeBron James – $128.2 million

Like Antetokounmpo, LeBron James plays forward for the Los Angeles Lakers. He has been playing basketball for more than 20 years.

LeBron James earns $128.2 million as an athlete
LeBron James earns $128.2 million as an athlete/Photo via Instagram @kingjames

James earns $128.2 million as he gets $48.2 million on the field and $80 million off the field. Forbes added in their report that the Lakers’ forward’s next moves are uncertain after the team was eliminated from the NBA playoffs against the Denver Nuggets. Staying with the team is on the table and he’d make $51.4 million. He is also gearing up for what could be his final Olympic games with Team USA in Paris. 

He explores other opportunities beyond the court, such as investing in the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) Tour Enterprises.

Lionel Messi – $135 million

Argentinian footballer Lionel Messi also made it to the list of Forbes’ highest paid athletes. The forward player has competed for five football clubs as the Olympics’ website mentioned, among them being FC Barcelona and France’s PSG. Messi currently plays for Inter Miami.

Lionel Messi currently plays under the football club Inter Miami
Lionel Messi currently plays under the football club Inter Miami/Photo via Instagram @leomessi

Messi earned $70 million off-field and made $65 million during games, which adds up to a combined profit of $135 million. Forbes’ report revealed that Messi has always exceeded expectations, performing consistently well in games. He scored 10 goals in his first nine matches this season and became the first Major League Soccer (MLS) player to record five assists in a single game. 

The athlete has been exploring ventures outside sports, too. He collaborated with the White Claw Hard Seltzer’s maker to launch his own sports drink, Más+ by Messi. It comes in four flavors and are available in bottles and cans. CNN reported that it will be released on June 13 in Miami, after which it will debut in U.S. supermarkets come July.

Jon Rahm – $218 million

Spanish professional golfer Jon Rahm, or Jon Rahm Rodriguez, recently joined the LIV Golf League. Turns out, it was one of the most lucrative moves in his life. 

Jon Rahm obtained 20 wins as a professional golf player for the LIV Golf League
Jon Rahm obtained 20 wins as a professional golf player for the LIV Golf League/Photo via Instagram @jonrahm

Rahm gained $218 million from combined revenues from playing on the field for $198 million and $20 million outside games. The Spanish golfer amassed 20 wins throughout the course of his career as LIV mentioned on their website

Forbes’ report divulged that Rahm made $6.6 million from seven tournaments in 2024 alone, which means his move to the league paid off. He has not yet secured a victory in LIV events but his financial gains are significantly remarkable. He was also chosen to lead LIV’s 13th team, Legion XIII, a role that has a 25 percent equity stake. This solidified his position and value within the organization.

Cristiano Ronaldo – $260 million

Cristiano Ronaldo topped Forbes’ list of this year’s highest paid athletes. He is a forward football player for the Al-Nassr Football Club and the Portugal National Football team. 

Cristiano Ronaldo makes $200 million annually from his current football club, Al Nassr
Cristiano Ronaldo makes $200 million annually from his current football club, Al-Nassr/Photo via Instagram @cristiano.

Ronaldo joined Al-Nassr last year, and the club’s investment seems to be reaping rewarding results. He led the league with 33 goals scored so far and also earned accolades like Player of the Month in August, September, December, and March. 

The athlete earns $200 million from playing for Al Nassr, and $60 million outside of sports, adding up to a $260 million profit. Forbes explained he also brought tremendous revenue to sponsors, too, as he frequently promotes his partners. He dedicates social media posts for crypto exchange company Binance and Erakulis, a fitness app. He also has deals with Nike, Herbalife, Clear Haircare and Whoop. Aside from these, he is also among the most followed athletes on Instagram with more than 600 million followers.

Banner photo via Instagram @cristiano.

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