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Top 10 Highest Paid Athletes in 2024: Forbes’ Rich List

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The earnings of the athletes in the sports world have gone up considerably in 2024. For the first time, the top 10 highest-paid athletes crossed $100 million, with their collective earning of $1.38 billion. This surge was mainly fueled by some hefty contract deals and lucrative endorsement money, underlining the huge financial incentives at stake for elite athletes in the global sports arena. Here is an overview of the top 10 highest-paid athletes in 2024.

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Top 10 Highest Paid Athletes in 2024 – Forbes List

Sr. No Name of the Athletes Total Earning On-Field Earning Off-Field Earning
1 Cristiano Ronaldo $260 Million $200 Million $60 Million
2 Jon Rahm $218 Million $198 Million $20 Million
3 Lionel Messi $135 Million $65 Million $70 Million
4 LeBron James $128.2 Million $48.2 Million $80 Million
5 Giannis Antetokounmpo $111 Million $46 Million $65 Million
6 Kylian Mbappé $110 Million $90 Million $20 Million
7 Neymar $108 Million $80 Million $28 Million
8 Karim Benzema $106 Million $100 Million $6 Million
9 Stephen Curry $102 Million $52 Million $50 Million
10 Lamar Jackson $100.5 Million $98.5 Million $2 Million

Cristiano Ronaldo – $260 Million

Cristiano Ronaldo - Highest Paid Athletes in 2024 | KreedOn
Image Source: Goal

Ronaldo netted record earnings of $260 million in 2024, a new record by a soccer player. This remarkable feat is primarily attributed to his $200 million annual salary with Al Nassr, proving to be a worthwhile investment by the Saudi Pro League club. At 39, the forward is dominating the pitch, breaking the league with 33 goals and scoring multiple Player of the Month awards during the season. Beyond the pitch, Ronaldo is still a highly valued personality for sponsors, pitching brands such as Binance, Erakulis, Nike, Herbalife, Clear Haircare, and Whoop to his 629 million Instagram followers. In addition, he is entitled to receive a $10.5 million payout from his former club, Juventus, after a ruling that the Serie A team owed him outstanding wages from a Covid-19 pandemic-related pay cut.

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Jon Rahm – $218 Million

Jon Rahm | KreedOn
Image Source: ESPN

Rahm’s decision to join LIV Golf last December is proving to be incredibly lucrative, well exceeding the $350 million guaranteed he reportedly received to join the Saudi-backed tour. Though he has yet to win one of LIV’s events, the Spanish golfer has already earned $6.6 million playing in seven events this year, which would rank sixth on the PGA Tour’s official money list this season (through May 13). And Rahm was named to captain LIV’s 13th team, Legion XIII, a role traditionally tied to 25% ownership of the league’s teams.

Lionel Messi – $135 Million

Lionel Messi - Highest Paid Athletes in 2024 | KreedOn
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Messi’s arrival in Miami has brought the start of a golden era for his new club, Inter Miami, with tickets selling briskly, a historic global preseason tour, and the signing of several new high-dollar sponsors, including a deal with Royal Caribbean marking the largest jersey deal in MLS history. According to Forbes, Inter Miami is now the second-most valuable franchise in Major League Soccer at $1.03 billion, with revenue expected to rise from $118 million in 2023 to more than $200 million this year.

Messi has held up his end on the field, scoring 10 times in his first nine games of the campaign and becoming the first MLS player with five assists in a match. Off the field, Messi has added Lowe’s to an endorsement roster that includes Adidas, Apple, and Konami, among others. And he’s reportedly teaming up with the maker of White Claw Hard Seltzer to launch his own sports drink later this summer.

LeBron James – $128.2 Million

LeBron James - Highest Paid Athletes 2024 | KreedOn
Image Source: NBA

There’s plenty of speculation about James’ future with the Los Angeles Lakers after another disappointing playoff exit. The four-time MVP has a player option worth $51.4 million with the club, per Spotrac. He also said he wants to play with his oldest son, Bronny, who has declared for the NBA Draft while maintaining eligibility for college. For now, James is expected to take part in likely his final Olympics as Team USA pursues gold in Paris this summer. Beyond the NBA, James signed with DraftKings in January and joined a list of high-profile investors in PGA Tour Enterprises, a new commercial entity in golf.

Giannis Antetokounmpo – $111 Million

Giannis Antetokounmpo | KreedOn
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Antetokounmpo is currently sidelined with a calf injury that prematurely ended a tough season for the Milwaukee Bucks star. Between a midseason coaching change and seeing his team bow out of the playoffs early, Antetokounmpo had a lot to deal with on the court. But off the court, his popularity and influence continue to grow. In January, he launched a production company, inked a deal with Pepsi’s Starry soft drink in February and is on tap to debut his sixth signature sneaker with Nike later this year.

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Kylian Mbappé – $110 Million

Kylian Mbappe | KreedOn
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Mbappé’s leaving PSG means it is the end of the $1.3 billion PSG project to build a superteam. The 25-year-old French soccer sensation is reportedly set to fulfill his long-held dream of switching to the illustrious Spanish club Real Madrid next season. The team, despite dominating Ligue 1—taking home six of seven possible titles—was never able to capture a Champions League with Mbappé on the roster. Off the pitch, Mbappé is an extremely hands-on investor in a variety of different pursuits. In 2022, he founded a production company that created content in conjunction with the NBA and has partnerships with some of the most recognizable brands in Nike, Hublot, and Oakley.

Neymar – $108 Million

Neymar | KreedOn
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In order to tempt Neymar to Saudi Arabian soccer team Al Hilal last year, a generous compensation package was reportedly offered perks included a private jet, a fleet of high-end cars, and a mansion fully staffed. But Neymar’s time at the club was bumpy from the very beginning. In October, the Brazilian player was ruled out with a torn ACL in a World Cup qualifying match, meaning his club season was cut short after playing just five games in the Saudi Pro League and AFC Champions League. The point is that Neymar has still been able to close new endorsement deals. Since the injury, he has added a collaboration with Skims to his portfolio, a new soccer boot featuring the endorsement of Puma, and partnering with Fun Brands to create his own cocktails and mocktails line.

Karim Benzema – $106 Million

Karim Benzema - Highest Paid Athletes in 2024 | KreedOn
Image Source: Goal

After being awarded the Ballon d’Or in 2022, Benzema left Real Madrid last season on a free transfer. He joined Saudi Pro League side Al Ittihad. In an interview released by the league, he said that as a Muslim, his presence in Mecca provided him with inner peace, which had sparked his move. But personal reasons aside, the first season has not gone well due to health problems, with ESPN reporting that Benzema has gone to Spain to be treated at Real Madrid’s clinic by his old doctor.

Stephen Curry – $102 Million

Stephen Curry | KreedOn
Image Source: Bleacher Report

Curry’s great shooting has continued into the later stages of his career, and he is leading the league this season in three-pointers with 357. He has also solidified a spot on Team USA’s Olympic roster for the summer games. Meanwhile, away from the court, Curry has done even more to extend his reach. Inking a long-term deal with Under Armour, he will earn a bonus of $75 million in stock that will vest between 2029 and 2034. The Curry Brand has grown beyond Curry himself, signing De’Aaron Fox from the Sacramento Kings in October and MiLaysia Fulwiley from South Carolina in November. But perhaps most intriguingly, Curry is diversifying into acting, co-starring in an ordered mockumentary series for Peacock.

Lamar Jackson – $100.5 Million

Lamar Jackson | KreedOn
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Lamar Jackson breaks into the top ten because of the $72.5 million signing bonus he pocketed in his new contract last year with the Baltimore Ravens, which he negotiated himself. The 27-year-old quarterback celebrated this milestone by winning his second NFL MVP after leading the Ravens to a 13-4 record and the AFC Central division crown. Off the field, Jackson is working with Oakley and StatusPro, producers of the NFL Pro Era virtual reality video game. He is also working on various business interests, including a soul food restaurant, a production company, a record label, and a clothing line called Era 8.

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