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The Top 5 Highest-Paid Athletes in the World in 2021

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Conor McGregor

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Are sports a viable career choice? Well, it depends on a lot of factors – the country you live in, the sports you play, your skill, talent, and age.

In most cases, professional athletes do earn a nice wage which is completed by bonuses and prizes. Not to mention endorsements in some cases. But it takes a lot more than just talent to become a veritable sports star and to earn not just fame but also a fat paycheck. These athletes have succeeded where most others fail, becoming the highest-paid athletes in the world.

It’s not the soccer players

Soccer is the sport with the most money involved. It is also the most popular sport with the largest player base around the world. Soccer makes money out of everything from broadcast rights to live soccer betting. Betting brands like Betway routinely endorse entire teams or individual players, sometimes even entire soccer leagues in certain countries – it’s normal for players to show up in shirts boasting the logo of a betting group (Betway, for example, is the official sponsor of West Ham United).

Surprising as it may sound, only one soccer player made it into the top 5 this year. Still, it’s worth noting that there are 32 soccer players among the top 100 highest-paid athletes this year, with earnings that exceed $1.2 billion. Then again, there are 31 basketball players, too, with similar earnings.

 

So, without further ado, here is the list of the highest-paid athletes in 2021.

5. LeBron James

Nicknamed “King James”, the basketball legend is one of the most recognizable names and faces in the NBA. He’s been with the Los Angeles Lakers since 2018 and he has earned the respect of basketball fans everywhere by helping the team win the NBA (2020), earning 17 appointments to the All-Stars, and winning two Olympic gold medals for his country.

LeBron earned a little over $101 million in the last year – close to $32 million from his salary and around $70 million from endorsements.

4. Dak Prescott

Quarterbacks are the stuff of legends in American football – and, apparently, they also earn a great deal. Dak Prescott has been with the Dallas Cowboys since 2016 and has proven his worth quite a few times in the field.

His earnings from the last year? A little over $97 million from his salary and $11 million from endorsements, for a total of $108.4 million.

3. Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo is not only a football star but he is also a social media sensation and a humanitarian. And he is also an entrepreneur, being the man behind the CR7 brand that covers everything from gyms and hotels to branded clothing.

In the last year, Ronaldo earned $70 million from his salary, topped up with $50 million from endorsements for a total of $120 million.

2. Lionel Messi

If you expected Messi to have been the highest-paid athlete of the year, you were only mistaken by a bit. The Argentine football legend earned $130 million in the last year, with $97 million of it being his salary from Barcelona and $33 million from endorsements.

1. Conor McGregor

The 32-year-old English fighter spent most of the year away from the ring, especially since he broke a leg this summer. This is reflected by his earnings, too – he only made $22 million in prize money in the last year. But he more than made up for this through endorsements and other businesses, like his own whiskey brand (Proper No. Twelve) and his contract with the video game Dystopia: Contest of Heroes. These earned him a nice paycheck of $158 million in the last year, making him the highest-paid athlete in the world.


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