Recently Forbes published a list of the highest paid athletes in 2020. This prompted many bloggers to list them as the richest athletes. If you search on the internet, you will be presented with this kind of list. But is it correct to say that the highest paid athletes in 2018-2019 are the richest?
A sportsperson may have recently shot to limelight and may have earned more in the year through his salary, endorsement deals and other sources of income. But it doesn’t mean that the person is richer than those who have been the top sportsperson for years together in the past. Michel Jordan, Tiger Woods, Michael Schumacher and many more have earned their billions of dollars much before Floyd Mayweather, who earned $285 million in 2017 in just one boxing match and topped the Forbes List of 2019.
Here is a list of the top 10 richest athletes in the world as of 2018-2019. Their net worth have been taken from various authentic sources.
#10. Shaquille O’Neal — Net Worth $735 Million
Shaquille O’Neal is a retired American professional basketball player. He presently is a sports analyst on the television program Inside the NBA. He is considered one of the greatest players in the history of NBA. With a height of 7 ft 1 in and weighing 150 kg, he was one of the tallest and heaviest NAB players.
In his 19 years career, he played for six NBA teams. He has also played for the Los Angeles Lakers and won three consecutive championships in 2000, 2001, and 2002. He moved to Miami Heat in 2004, and won his fourth NBA championship in 2006. Before retiring in 2011, he played for the Boston Celtics, after playing for Phoenix Suns in 2007-2008 and Cleveland cavaliers in 2009-2010. In 2000, he became one of the only three players to have won NBA MVP, All-Star game MVP and Finals MVP awards in the same year.
O’Neal has released four rap albums, appeared in numerous films and has had his own reality shows. He has also featured in many video games. O’Neal has appeared in several television commercials, including that for Pepsi, Reebok, Nestlé, and many more products and companies.
O’Neal is also a businessman and investor. He is also a real estate entrepreneur. He has also developed real estate projects in his hometown in Newark, New Jersey. In 2013, O’Neal acquired a minority stake in the Sacramento Kings. In June 2015, O’Neal funded a technology startup Loyale3 Holdings Inc. a brokerage service provider to small investors. The net worth of Shaquille O’Neal in 2018 is estimated to be $ 735 Million.
#9. David Beckham — Net Worth $800 Million
David Beckham is a retired English professional footballer. He has played for Manchester United, Preston North End, Real Madrid, Milan, LA Galaxy, Paris Saint-Germain and the England national team. He is the first English player to win league titles in four countries, England, Spain, the United States and France. He began his professional career with Manchester United, at the age of 17 in 1992. Later he moved on to clubs in other countries.
After a two decades long career, he retired in May 2013. He has won 19 major trophies during his long career. He was known for his passing, crossing and bending free-kicks as a right winger. He was runner up in the Ballon d’Or and twice runner-up for FIFA World Player of the Year.
Beckham has always been the top earners in football. In 2013, the year he retired, he was the highest-paid player in the world, earning over $50 million in the year. Beckham has done numerous endorsement deals to become one of the most recognizable athletes worldwide. In 2003 he signed a $160 million lifetime contract with Adidas, and will earn percentages of profits on all of his branded Adidas products. He had a 10-year deal with Pepsi which expired in 2009. He has also promoted the Walt Disney Company theme parks – Disneyland. He has also featured in several video games. Beckham has a line of aftershave and fragrances called, David Beckham Instinct, and he was paid $13.7 million in 2007 to launch his fragrance line.
As on today, in 2018, his net worth is estimated to be $800 Million.
#8. Phil Mickelson — Net Worth $815 Million
Phil Mickelson, whose full name is Philip Alfred Mickelson, is an American professional golfer. His nickname is Lefty because he was known for his left-handed swings. He has won 43 events on the PGA Tour which includes three Masters titles in 2004, 2006 and 2010; a PGA Championship and an Open Championship in 2013. He has reached a career-high world ranking of No. 2 several times, the No. 1 being Tiger Woods.
Mickelson has earned more from endorsements than prize money. Michelson has endorsed companies like KPMG, ExxonMobil, Rolex, Barclays, Ford nd many more. In 2011, Mickelson was the second-highest paid athlete in the United States, earning an income of over $62 million. In 2015, according to Forbes Mickelson’s annual income was estimated to be over $51 million. His current net worth in 2018 is estimated to be $815 million.
#7. Kobe Bryant — $800 Million
Kobe Bryant is an American former professional basketball player with a career spanning two decades with the Los Angeles Lakers of the NBA. He holds the record for playing most seasons with one team in his entire career. He is one of the greatest basketball players of all time and the first in NBA history to play for 20 seasons. He is an 18-time All-Star and topped the NBA in scoring during two seasons.
Bryan led the Lakers to two consecutive championships in 2009 and 2010, and won the Finals MVP Award. He had won gold medals as a member of the U.S. national team, in the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics. Following an injury in 2013, he announced his retirement in 2015.
Long back in 1996, Bryant signed a six-year contract with Adidas worth $48 million. His other earlier endorsements included Coca-Cola, Nike, McDonald’s, Spalding’s, Ferrero SpA’s brand Nutella, Russell Corporation, and many more. He has promoted several brands of Nike sports shoes. He also signed a deal with Nubeo to market their luxury sports watches. In 2010, he also signed a two-year endorsement deal with Turkey’s national airline, Turkish Airlines. He has appeared as the cover athlete for several video games.
In 2010, Forbes ranked Bryant third in the list of the world’s highest-paid athletes with $48 million. In 2013, Forbes listed Bryant as the fifth highest paid sports star in the world. Bryant has his own company Kobe Inc. dealing with sports and branding. In 2016, he co-founded Bryant-Stibel, a venture capital firm.
Bryant net worth in 2018 is estimated to be more than $800 million.
#6. Michael Schumacher — Net Worth $1 Billion
Michael Schumacher is a retired German Formula One racing driver who raced for Jordan Grand Prix, Benetton, Ferrari and Mercedes. He is regarded as the greatest of all time Formula One drivers. He is the only driver to win seven Formula One World Championships, and with five consecutive wins, from 2000 to 2004. He is the most successful driver in the history of the motor sport with the most World Championship titles, the most Grand Prix wins and the fastest laps.
Schumacher retired from Formula One in 2006, but returned in 2010 with Mercedes. In October 2012, Schumacher announced he would retire again. Schumacher is an ambassador for UNESCO and has been involved in several humanitarian causes, and has donated tens of millions of dollars. Schumacher and his younger brother, Ralf, are the only siblings to win races in Formula One. They were the first brothers to finish 1st and 2nd in the same race, and in four subsequent races, they did so.
In December 2013, Schumacher suffered a severe brain injury in a skiing accident. He was in a coma for six months and later was shifted to his home where he is under treatment and convalescing.
Forbes magazine listed him as the second highest paid athlete in the world in 2004. In 2005, Eurobusiness magazine declared Schumacher as the world’s first billionaire athlete. In 2004 his salary was around US$80 million. He also earns from endorsement and advertising. For instance, he was paid $8 million for an ad in his cap by Deutsche Vermögensberatung. This deal was renewed later. Way back in 2010, he received a salary of £21 million per year from the Mercedes besides £9 million in endorsements. His personal fortune was estimated at £515 million.
Considering the fact that he was already a billionaire in 2005, Schumacher’s net worth in 2018 is estimated to be more than $1 billion.
#5. Floyd Mayweather — $1.07 Billion
Floyd Joy Mayweather Jr. is an American former professional boxer and later became a professional boxing promoter. He was active from 1996 to 2007 and 2009 to 2015. Then he made a one-fight comeback in 2017. He has held several world titles in five weight classes. He retired with an undefeated record of 50–0.
Mayweather won a bronze medal in the featherweight category at the 1996 Olympics, when he was an amateur boxer. He has also won three U.S. Golden Gloves championships and the U.S. national championship for featherweight.
Mayweather has been Boxer of the Year, the title given by several sports magazines, for several years. He was ranked by ESPN as the greatest boxer of the last 25 years. Mayweather has been one of the most earning pay-per-view attractions of all time. In 2007, he founded his own boxing promotional firm, Mayweather Promotions.
He topped the Forbes list of the 50 highest-paid athletes of 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. He once again topped the list in 2018 with an earning of $285 million from a single boxing match against UFC star Conor McGregor.
Adding the $285 million to his net worth of $785 million; makes the total net worth of Mayweather a whopping $1.07 billion in 2018.
#4. Jack Nicklaus — Net Worth $1.2 Billion
Jack William Nicklaus, now a retired American professional golfer, is considered the greatest golfer of all times. His nickname is The Golden Bear. In 25 years of his career, he won a record 18 major championships like Masters Tournament, U.S. Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship. He has 73 victories to his credit, behind only to Sam Snead and Tiger Woods.
He won the U.S. Amateur in 1959 and 1961, and in 1961 turned professional at age of 21. In 1962, he earned his first major professional win in the U.S. Open, when he defeated Arnold Palmer. In 1966, Nicklaus became the first golfer to win the Masters Tournament for the second consecutive year, and the youngest at 26. In 1986, Nicklaus became the tournament’s oldest winner at age 46 to win his 18th and final major championship at the Masters. He continued to play till 2005, when he was 66, and made his final appearances at the Masters Tournament and The Open Championship.
Nicklaus has also undertaken golf course design. His golf course design company is one of the largest in the world. Nicklaus runs his company Nicklaus Design in partnership with his four sons and his son-in-law. The company has designed golf courses in US, Mexico, Canada, Australia, and in many countries of Asia and Europe. They have made 410 courses in 41 countries. Nicklaus also has business interests in real estate, wine, ice cream, golf academies and many more other areas.
He also runs his own tournament called the Memorial Tournament. He has written several books and Golf My Way is considered the best instructional golf books of all time, and the video is the best selling golf instructional to date. He has also developed many computer games on golf.
His net worth in 2018 is estimated to be $1.2 billion.
#3. Arnold Palmer — Net worth $1.4 Billion
Arnold Palmer was an American professional golfer who was nicknamed “The King”, and is considered as one of the greatest and most charismatic players in golf history. From 1955 to 1973, he won 62 PGA Tour titles. Palmer who came from a humble background changed the image of golf from an elite, upper-class pastime to sport accessible to middle and working classes. During the 1960’s Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Gary Player formed The Big Three in golf.
Palmer died on September 25, 2016, at the age of 87. Every year the estate puts in $40 million. Arnold Palmer branded apparels are sold from more than 400 stores across the world. His estate has licensed agreements with 39 companies. He was the first client of IMG, which revolutionized sports celebrity marketing. His estate was valued at $875 million at that time. Today its value exceeds $1.4 billion.
#2. Tiger Woods — Net worth $1.7 Billion
Tiger Woods is the most well known American professional golfer and one of the greatest golfers of all time. He is considered as one of the most popular athletes of the 21st century and for several years has been one of the highest-paid athletes in the world. In 1996, Woods was just 20 when he became professional.
By 1997, he won three PGA Tour events and won the Masters in just 12 strokes breaking all previous records, and reached the number one position in the world rankings. In 2000 U.S. Open, he won with a record 15-shot margin. He became the top-ranked golfer in the world from 1999 to 2010, except for a six-month break. He has the longest reign as World #1 and has received numerous awards including The PGA Player of the Year for a record eleven times, Byron Nelson Award for a record eight times.
Woods was the world’s most marketable athlete, during 1997 to 2010. He signed endorsement deals with several companies including General Motors, General Mills, American Express, Accenture, Nike, and many more. In 2000, he had a 5-year contract extension with Nike worth $105 million. This was the largest endorsement deal by any professional athlete. Nike Golf brand had collected $600 million in sales and Woods receives a share from the sales of Nike Golf apparel, footwear, golf equipment, golf balls etc.
In 2002, Woods endorsed Buick’s Rendezvous SUV, which was renewed in 2004 for $40 million. In 2005, Woods also worked with TAG Heuer watches to launch TAG Heuer Professional Golf Watch. In 2006, he signed a six-year contract with Electronic Arts. In 2007, Woods became ambassador for the “Gillette Champions” and the deal is estimated to be anywhere between $10 million to $ 50 million. Same year he also signed a deal with Gatorade for Gatorade Tiger brand for an estimated $ 100 million. He has also appeared in a TV commercial for a Japanese company making back-rubs and signed a deal with a sports nutrition firm, Fuse Science Inc.
In 2009, Forbes declared that Woods was the world’s first athlete to earn more than a billion dollars. According to Forbes, his current net worth in 2018 is $1.7 billion.
#1. Michael Jordan — Net Worth $1.85 Billion
Michael Jordan was a top American professional basketball player who played 15 seasons in the NBA for the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards. He is considered the greatest basketball player of all time by NBA. He had earned the nicknames Air Jordan. He has won the NBA title six times with Chicago Bulls team. He has been the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player six times and has received several awards. In 1999, ESPN named him as the greatest North American athlete of the 20th century.
He now owns the NBA team Charlotte Hornets, which he bought for $275 million in 2010; and it is now worth about $ 1 billion. He has a $12.8 million house in Florida and a $2.8 million house near Charlotte. He has a private jet which bears the ID number 236MJ which stands for his jersey number, number of titles and his initials. Jordan also owns a car dealership chain and a restaurant chain.
Jordan is the most marketed sports figure and has endorsed iconic brands like Nike, Coca-Cola, Chevrolet, Gatorade, McDonald’s, Ball Park Franks, Rayovac, Wheaties, Hanes, and many more. He is best known for the product endorsement of Nike’s Air Jordan sneakers, which has a sales revenue of $1 billion per year.
Jordan’s yearly income from the endorsements is estimated to be over sixty million dollars, which double the annual salary of $ 30 million that he got from NBA during his playing years.
In 2014, he became the first billionaire player in NBA history, and is the third-richest African-American. In 2017, Forbes declared Jordan as the athlete with the highest career earnings in 2017. In February 2018, Forbes estimated is current net worth at $1.65 billion.
The above count-down from 10 to 1 presents the authentic list of the richest sports stars. The list is led by those who have consistently performed at the top for several years and even decades. Even if in a year or two, a new hot shot sports star appears in the horizon and becomes the highest paid athlete in that year, the list given here is not very likely to change dramatically. In case you would like to offer your suggestions or have a point or two on the rankings of these sports persons, you are most welcome to write in with your comments.