The Top 50 income earners among athletes have brought home a combined $45.9 billion when adjusted for inflation and $33.2 billion on a nominal basis through the end of 2022. They represent nine different sports and 17 countries around the globe. NBA players lead the way with 13 entries, headed by Michael Jordan and his decades of Nike earnings. Serena Williams is the lone female athlete to make the cut, while Conor McGregor is the sole MMA practitioner on the list. (For a full analysis click here.)
Our earnings estimates are based on conversations with industry insiders, Sportico research and historical estimates in media outlets, such as Forbes and Sports Illustrated.
Earnings include salaries, bonuses, prize money, purses, endorsements, licensing, royalties, memorabilia, book deals, media, appearances and golf course design fees. We included cash earned from equity stakes in sponsor companies, like James’ stake in Beats Electronics, Durant’s share of Postmates and James Harden’s piece of BodyArmor. We did not factor in traditional investment income.
Sportico included earnings during playing careers and retirement through 2022 and adjusted them for inflation. Earnings are calculated up until the time of death for Palmer and Kobe Bryant. All earnings are pre-tax and before any fees for agents and lawyers.