The World’s Richest Sports Stars

Last Modified: 9th Sep

The biggest international sports stars command immense fortunes. But who has the most impressive wealth and what decisions helped make their money?

In this article, we take a look at the world’s richest sports stars.

Connor McGregor

Connor McGregor is the biggest celebrity the UFC fighting division has ever seen. The Irish fighter, nicknamed ‘Notorious’, has a host of fans eager to tune into his battling performances. This has made the star a valuable draw on pay-per-view sites and the creator of massive sums for broadcasters.

But it is McGregor’s business smarts that have taken his own wealth to the next level. After working his way up to the UFC in 2013 McGregor began to build a strong online following.

Two big knockout bonuses against his first two opponents certainly helped the bank balance too.

From 2016, his salary skyrocketed to nearly $3 million per fight. Most famous of all McGregor’s big earners was his move to boxing against ex-World champ Floyd Mayweather in 2017.

The bout produced a massive 4.3 million pay-per-view tickets which made over $550 million in revenue.

McGregor has also turned his attention to money-making projects outside of the ring. The most profitable of these is his own branded Irish whiskey; labeled Proper No. 12.

The liquor has been extremely profitable and has been subject to sponsorship deals and promotions that have added further coin to the coffers.

Currently, McGregor’s wealth stands at $120 million. However, given his business intelligence, this could go even higher.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo has been one of the top football players in the world for many years.

Ronaldo’s influence on his team Juventus is hugely important. The club pays well for his talents with a mega-contract providing him with $138 million over four years.

Juventus is currently listed on this sports betting site as the favorite to win next season’s Serie A. The odds of 2.10 put the Turin-based side as the expert’s pick to take the title.

Not only is Ronaldo a gifted sportsman, but he is also a top entrepreneur and businessman.

The player is part of a joint venture in the Portuguese hotel trade, with hotels in Madeira and Lisbon.

Restaurants also provide a profitable source of revenue for the player. He has a sizable stake in the elite restaurant Zela. He shares percentages in the London and Ibiza located restaurants, along with tennis player Rafael Nadal and basketball star Pau Gasol.

Ronaldo also owns a private jet plane business. Available for rentals of up to 3,000 euros per hour, the venture certainly reaches new heights.

A significant bearing on Ronaldo’s appeal to advertisers and businesses is his following on social media. The footballer is the most followed athlete on social media with 450 million followers across Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

With a reach like that, it is not surprising that he is worth so much in sponsorship contracts.

Over 40 % of his total income comes from endorsement deals with a range of companies including Clear Haircare, Nike, and Tag Heuer.

The lifetime deal with Nike has been said to be worth over a billion dollars. According to some reports, the deal will continue after he has retired from the sport and could go on for decades.

Lionel Messi

Another fantastically well-paid football is Lionel Messi. The Barcelona FC player’s total earnings of $130 million proved his unquestioned value to the team.

Messi now looks set to be off on a new sporting adventure to Paris Saint Germain after contract re-negations broke down with the Spanish club.

Whatever happens in his footballing career, Messi has built up a healthy list of business contacts and contracts.

As of 2021, Messi’s net worth is said to be around $400 million. A new deal with PSG could send that figure even higher.

There is speculation that he could earn $35 million to $41 million per season with the French team.

Much like his contemporary Ronaldo, Messi adds to his wealth with careful business endorsement deals.

Primary among these are the advertising contracts he has with the makers of football boots Adidas. The full details of the deal are not disclosed, but it is expected to provide him with a healthy boost to his salary up until retirement.

The footballer has also been a major part of advertising campaigns for the likes of Gillette, Pepsi, and Turkish Airlines. In the Forbes 2019 celebrity rich list, Messi’s celebrity endorsements were said to be worth $35 million for that year alone.

Messi has also heavily invested in property. He has put money into a set of gated communities in his home city of Rosario in Argentina. He has also provided the finances for an apartment building in the city center.

LeBron James

Basketball player James added to his overall wealth of $96.5 million with a fourth NBA championship win in October. He has also seen other successful ventures bear profitable fruit. A Hollywood appearance in the movie Space Jam: A New Legacy outlined his star value.

Deals with Pepsi Cola and the purchasing of a stake in Fenway Sports Group, which owns the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool FC, were further additions to his business portfolio.  

James is another example of a sports star who knows exactly how to make the most of their abilities – both on and off the court.

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