Sports is among the most popular and fanatic sources of entertainment throughout the world. Be it any sport, athletes work blood and sweat off to make it to the top-most level. And with enormous hard work comes impressive rewards. Sports Superstars earn billions even after the end of their career through endorsement deals or getting into the broadcasting and media business part of the sports. Top level players like Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods or Ronaldo have made millions from excelling in what they do. But not everyone has the calibre to be the best in what they do. So before choosing a sports career for yourself or maybe your little one, you might want to have a look at this list of highest paid sports in the world. This list is on the basis of average payment that a player gets in the corresponding sport. So let’s get started-
Also called as biking or bicycling, it stands at the 10th place among the ‘highest paid sports’ of the world. Cycling is a part of the Olympic Games and has its presence all over the world. It is most popular in European countries like Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland. Many cycling tournaments are currently among the highest paying tournaments of the world. Some famous tournaments are Tour de France, Giro d’Italia in Italy and the Vuelta a España in Spain.
Apart from the tournament earnings, famous cyclists also earn a lot of money from endorsement deals. Lance Armstrong who is among the most controversial but famous athletes of the world was at the 9th place in the Forbes list of Richest Players in 2010 with a total income of $28 million.
Baseball is one of the major sports played in the United States of America. The sport also has huge popularity in Japan and South Korea. The biggest league of Baseball is MLB (Major Baseball League) held in the USA and Canada. MLB players have featured in the Forbes list of richest athletes since a long time. In 1993, Cecil Fielder was at 8th place in the Forbes list of Richest Player with a total income of $12.7 million. Alex Rodriguez also achieved the 9th place in the Forbes list of Richest Players in 2011 with a total income of 35 million dollars.
8. Ice Hockey
One of the fastest game of the world, Ice Hockey stands at 8th place in the list. Being the national winter sport of Canada, Ice hockey is the most popular game in Canada. It is also very popular in central and eastern Europe, Russia and the United States. National Hockey League (NHL) is the strongest professional ice hockey league in the world held in North America. Sergei Fedorov, Russian ice hockey player was 3rd in the Forbes list of Richest players in 1998 with a total income of $29.8 million. In 1997, Canadian international ice hockey player Joe Sakic held the 9th place with a total income of $17.9 million. And the legendary Wayne Gretzky was at number 10 in the list in 1995 with a total income of $14.5 million.
Tennis is arguably one of the most popular worldwide spectator sport. Top level tennis players are among the highest paid athletes in the world. Most popular tournaments in tennis are the 4 Grand Slams or majors. Highest paid athletes in the current Tennis world are the big 3 Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Widely regarded as the greatest tennis player ever, Roger Federer is the highest-paid tennis player for the 14th straight year. In fact, he is the only tennis player in the list of highest-paid athletes of 2019, standing 5th with $93.4 Million earning between 2018-2019.
Football or soccer (as it is called in North America) is the most popular sport in the world. It watched and played in more than 200 countries in the world. The sport is especially popular in European countries which are home to popular football clubs like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus, etc. In fact, the top 3 athletes in the Forbes List of most athletes are football players Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar Jr. The earnings of these 3 legendary players from 2018-2019 are $127M, $109M and $105M respectively.
5. American Football
As the name suggests, American Football, also known as Football in the USA and Canada is the most popular sport in the USA. It is widely played and watched at all levels, high school, college and professional. The National Football League (NFL) is the most popular American football league in the world. Among all the professional sports league, it has the highest average attendance in the world.
Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers stand at 6th and 7th respectively in the Forbes list of highest paid athletes 2019. They have an earning of $89.5M and $89.3M respectively. The most interesting part of these league is the majority of their earnings is from their player salary or winnings. This is because of the fact that the NFL is among the biggest leagues in the world despite being watched only in the USA.
Being a golf player is one of the most lucrative career options that one can imagine. Unlike other ball sports, it does not require much endurance or fitness. For the same reason, a golf player’s career can go on till the late 40s. Events and tours are organised all over the world which gives athletes to grab paychecks throughout the year. The most famous name that comes to our mind when we hear about Golf is Tiger Woods. The legendary golfer holds the record of achieving the first place in Forbes list of Richest Players eleven times. He topped the list consecutively from 2003-2011 and then again in 2013.
3. Auto Racing
Auto Racing is basically motorsport racing which pays off really well for the high risks involved in the event. The sport involves some of the highest paying events in the sports universe such as the Grand Prix of Formula 1 or NASCAR. Star drivers of the sport get paid hugely from several endorsement deals of reputed brands. F1 legend Michael Schumacher has topped the Forbes list of Richest Players in the year 1999 and 2000 with a total income of $49 million and $59 million respectively.
Boxing is a combat sport played between 2 people inside a ring. This sport again carries the high risk, high payoff scenario like the previous one. But in this case, the athletes are required to be in the prime of their fitness to achieve something big. Popular boxers earn huge rewards from different tournaments and face-offs. They also gain huge profits from the Pay-Per-View commissions, betting and endorsement deals.
The famous retired American boxer, Floyd Mayweather achieved the first sport in the Forbes List of highest-paid athletes with $85 million income in 2012. He topped the list again in 2014 with $105 million income.
Surprisingly the highest paying sport in the world is the one that is played by superhumans – Basketball. Basketball players are no normal beings who cannot be noticed when roaming around in the city. The average height in the NBA (American basketball league) is about 6ft 7inches. Although these players are recognised for their unbelievable talent on the court, it’s strategic off-court moves that have led to their financial success.
Former NBA legend, Michael Jordan is the first ever sports personality to reach a billion dollar valuation, thanks to Nike’s Jordan brand. Current NBA superstars like LeBron James and Steph Curry also features in the top 10 most paid athletes’ list of Forbes. But there are a hell lot of players below top 10 in the list who play basketball for a living.
Although basketball is not the most popular sport in the USA it is the high valued endorsement deals and the ease of branding in the sport, which helps the sport stand a top in the list.