The richest and the highest-paid professionals in the world are sports personalities. There are several contenders for the best paying sport globally, depending on how you calculate it. Sports like basketball, boxing, soccer and football have the highest earners; it is not about individual salaries but the best paying sports overall.
Our list includes the top five paying sports on average, including endorsements and sponsorships. The richest sports athlete, according to Forbes, is estimated to be worth $280 million. Most professional athletes do not depend on their respective clubs or countries for income; they earn millions from endorsements.
Advertising companies pay athletes very high to endorse their brands through social media or other media. Global online betting with credit card and other payment methods has also increased the stakes involved in sports.
Here is a list of our top five paying sports in the world.
Basketball is ranked as the world’s best-paying sport with an average annual income of $4.9 million. Apart from the millions earned as salary, most NBA players earn huge amounts from endorsements and sponsorships. No other sport in the world gets the kind of advertisement deals like basketball. Basketball top five earners include;
- LeBron James – $95.4 million
- Stephen Curry – $74.4 million
- Kevin Durant – $65.2 million
- Russel Westbrook – $58.1 million
- James Harden – $50 million
From the list of Forbes best-paid athletes in the world, you will not miss three of four basketball players in the list. Note that an annual salary of $4.9 million is the average; top players like LeBron James earn over $96.5 million in-field and $65 million off-field annually.
Major League Baseball
Except in the USA, baseball is not a popular sport in other parts of the world. In the 2020 season, the average wage in MLB was $3.89 million for a full season. MLB players boost their income with numerous endorsements and sponsorships. The 2020 average earning was 4.2% lower than the 2019 average of $4.05 million, largely due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Except for the past two years, the Major League Baseball revenue has increased yearly, leading to a continued increase in players’ income. In my projection, Evelyn Balyton, the author, baseball could overtake basketball in the top spot as the highest paying sport in the world.
The NHL Ice Hockey is another popular sport in the USA, Canada and a few European countries. In the 2020/2021 season, the average salary for NHL players is estimated to be $2.5 million. The highest-paid player Auston Matthews takes home over $15 million annually, and the lowest-earning player earns $700,00.
The difference between NFL and other sports is that players who sign do not have a constant contract. For instance, the first-year contract can exceed the subsequent years depending on the NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement. There are restrictions put in place by NHL to prevent players’ salaries from fluctuating too much.
American Football (NFL)
The dream of most high school and college students in the US is to play in the NFL majorly because of the financial reward that comes with the spot. The Atlanta Falcons ranks as a team with the highest wage bill in the NFL with $4.71 million and the lowest Miami Dolphins with average revenue of $2.05 million per year. The National Football League average salaries have been growing steadily over the years. An average NFL player is estimated to take home $2 million annually.
The highest-paid NFL player takes home more than $45 million in salaries, $43 million in bonuses and $750,000 in endorsements. NFL has put out a Minimum Annual Player Salary to ensure that athletes are fairly compensated for their effort. As of 2019, the NFL minimum wage stood at $500,000 and a cap of $188.2 million to prevent clubs from overspending on players.
The FA Premier League
Last on our list of the highest paying sports in the English Premier League. In the 2019/2020 season, Manchester City paid its players over $8.73 million, while the lowest team, Sheffield United, paid an average of $910 000. Manchester City tops the list with £220 million, followed by £205.5 in 2020/2021. Here is a list of EPL top five earners;
- David De Gea – $21 million
- Pierre Emerick Aubameyang – $21 million
- Kevin De Bruyne – $19 million
- Kai Havertz – $17 million
- Raheem Sterling – $16 million
The EPL is popular in terms of viewership, popularity and revenue. English Premier League has some of the world’s biggest talents, making every game competitive and exciting. In the top 10 highest-paying football clubs, you will not miss four or five EPL clubs. The highest-paid player Kevin De Bruyne takes home an annual income of $24 million annually.
Apart from the above five mentioned sports, other high-paying sports worldwide include boxing, tennis and golf. Some of these sports do not appear on our list because we looked at the average salaries and not individual salaries. Individual sports personalities like Conon McGregor earn $180 million annually in a sport that does not appear on our list.
You will have to reach the top of your game in such sports to earn huge, which is not the case in sports like NBA, MLB, Soccer or NFL, where there is a huge pool of players earning big.