A Look At The Richest Athletes In 2024

The vast majority of people who get involved with athletic endeavors won't get rich as a result. But for those select few — the one percent of the one percent — who are among the best in the world at their chosen sport, it's entirely possible to make many millions of dollars.

Fortunes ebb and flow, so any list of the world's richest athletes is going to fluctuate. But in 2024, these are the athletes who make the most money in the world, according to Forbes. For the purposes of this article, we'll only be looking at active athletes and will be assessing how much they'll make in 2024 rather than their overall net worth.

Sadio Mané: $52 million

Sadio Mané is currently the best Senegalese soccer player in the world, and has made an impressive amount of money in his career. Mané followed stints at Liverpool and Bayern Munich by signing a big contract with Saudi club Al Nassr in 2023.

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The 32-year-old's income comes not just from the contracts he's signed throughout his career, but also a lucrative long-term deal with New Balance, which he inked back in 2021.

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Paul George: $52.7 million

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Los Angeles Clippers star Paul George has impressive credentials on the basketball court: Nine All-Star selections and a six-time All-NBA selection. George's career has slowed down somewhat, but his earnings haven't.

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George has built his brand through a signature shoe created with Nike and an appearance on the cover of the NBA 2K17 video game. He signed a four-year contract with the Clippers in 2021 worth more than $176 million.

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Mohamed Salah: $53 million

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Salah has been a centerpiece of Premier League giant Liverpool since 2017, helping the club regain its former glory with Premier League and Champions League titles during his tenure.

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The Egyptian forward has been an enormously popular figure in Liverpool, making waves for his charitable initiatives just as much as for his performance on the pitch. He signed a three-year deal with Liverpool in 2022 that will keep him with the Reds until 2025.

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Kawhi Leonard: $53.7 million

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After leading the San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors to NBA championships, Leonard inked a deal with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2019, then re-upped for another three years in early 2024.

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While things haven't gone as planned with Leonard, Paul George, and the rest of the Clippers super-team, there's no denying that Kawhi is a rich man. In addition to his NBA contract (three years for $152.4 million), he's also made plenty of money from endorsements with Nike and then New Balance.

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Chris Jones: $54.1 million

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Defensive linemen often get overlooked when it comes to football stardom, but it's one of the most important positions on the field — and Chiefs d-linemen Chris Jones is one of the best currently playing.

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The Chiefs rewarded the Pro Bowler for his hard work in defending star quarterback Patrick Mahomes with a rich contract in 2024: Five years for $158.75 million, with more than $100 million guaranteed. Jones also has endorsement deals with Adidas and Bud Light.

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Bradley Beal: $54.3 million

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Shooting guard Bradley Beal grew into a star during his decade-plus with the Washington Wizards, and signed a five-year NBA max deal worth $251 million in 2022. A year later, the Wizards traded him to the contending Phoenix Suns.

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Beal had a good debut season in Phoenix and will continue earning just over $50 million per year for the remaining three seasons of his deal. Of his net worth, the bulk comes from his contract.

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Luka Dončić: $55.1 million

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Slovenian superstar Luka Dončić has serious credentials: At the age of 25, he's already a five-time NBA All-Star and is generally regarded as one of the best European basketball players of all time.

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The Dallas Mavericks rewarded their franchise cornerstone with a five-year, $207 million NBA supermax contract in 2021. He also has a successful series of signature shoes with Nike's Jordan Brand. Forbes estimates his net worth at $55.1 million, with $8 million coming from endorsements.

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James Harden: $55.8 million

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Harden has been an NBA mainstay ever since his third overall selection by the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2009. Since then, he's bounced around the NBA, racking up All-Star selections and even an MVP award along the way.

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While Harden's NBA contracts aren't as rich as some of his contemporaries, he has a lucrative deal with Adidas — his 13-year endorsement contract, signed in 2015, is worth up to $200 million. He also has investments with Bodyarmor and the Houston Dynamo pro soccer team.

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Nikola Jokić: $56.1 million

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Nikola Jokić wasn't regarded as a future star when the Denver Nuggets selected the 6'11" Serbian center late in the 2014 draft. But he's succeeded beyond anyone's wildest dreams, winning three NBA MVP awards and leading the Nuggets to their first championship in 2023.

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The Joker signed a big $264 million, five-year contract with the Nuggets in 2022. He's also linked to brands like Nike, Western Union, Somborac, Panini and 361 Degrees for endorsement deals.

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Jimmy Butler: $57.5 million

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Another unlikely NBA superstar, Jimmy Buckets has starred for four teams during his career since he was drafted with the last pick of the first round by the Bulls in 2011.

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Butler took the unusual step of leaving a rich endorsement deal with Nike a few years back in favor of a contract with Li-Ning, a far lesser-known brand. He also makes money from his popular YouTube channel, which is closing in on a million subscribers.

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Joel Embiid: $57.7 million

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Cameroonian seven-footer Joel Embiid is a force on the basketball court, earning seven All-Star selections and one MVP award during his decade in the NBA, all spent with the Philadelphia 76ers.

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Embiid seems content to stay in Philly after signing a big contract in 2017, then extending it in 2021. He has a shoe contract with Skechers, a company not normally associated with basketball shoes. His charitable contributions for coronavirus relief and initiatives to help homeless people have also earned him praise.

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Scottie Scheffler: $59.2 million

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Scottie Scheffler is currently one of the top golfers in the world after winning both the 2022 and 2024 Masters, along with the 2023 and 2024 The Players Championships.

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In 2022, Scheffler set a new high-water mark for official PGA on-course earnings with $14 million. The next year, he topped this with $21 million, and in just the first half of 2024, he earned $24 million. He's represented by some of the top brands in golf, including Nike and TaylorMade.

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Max Scherzer: $59.9 million

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One of the most dominant pitchers of the past two decades, Max Scherzer is now in the twilight of his career with the Texas Rangers. The eccentric right-hander is a three-time Cy Young Award winner as the league's best pitcher and a two-time World Series champion.

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Scherzer has been collecting money from big contracts ever since making his MLB debut in 2008. While he currently plays for the Rangers, he's still making money from contracts he signed with the Mets and Nationals earlier in his career.

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Erling Haaland: $61 million

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In short order, Erling Haaland has emerged as one of the best strikers in the world. Still in his early 20s, the superstar made a big splash before he even played a match for his club, with Manchester City paying a steep $63 million transfer fee to bring him over from Borussia Dortmund.

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Haaland set the Premier League single-season scoring record in his first season, and his success earned him a lucrative endorsement contract with Nike.

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Damian Lillard: $61.9 million

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Lillard wasn't overly hyped out of high school and played college ball at a small school, Weber State — but he turned heads with his collegiate performance and was a top ten NBA draft pick in 2012.

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Over 11 seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers, Lillard racked up numerous accolades and established himself as one of the best point guards in the game. Now with the Milwaukee Bucks, Lillard has a valuable shoe endorsement deal with Adidas along with four rap albums released under his Dame D.O.L.L.A. rap name.

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Klay Thompson: $62.3 million

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Thompson is a second-generation NBA star, following in the footsteps of his father Mychal Thompson. Along with Steph Curry, Thompson has been a centerpiece of the Golden State Warriors' dynasty.

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Off the court, Thompson has endorsement deals with Anta (a Chinese shoe brand), Waiakea Water, Bevel, and Nerf, and he also appeared in the Space Jam reboot. About $19 million of his valuation comes from his various endorsement deals.

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Kirk Cousins: $62.5 million

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Quarterback Kirk Cousins defied the odds, rising from a modest fourth-round draft pick into an NFL mainstay. After six seasons in Washington, and six more in Minnesota, Cousins inked a four-year, $180 million deal with the Atlanta Falcons.

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Cousins has built his public persona through appearing in the Netflix series Quarterback as well as various initiatives to promote his Christian faith. While his net worth is significant, the vast majority of it comes from his NFL contracts rather than endorsements.

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Tiger Woods: $67.2 million

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It isn't particularly surprising that Tiger Woods is perhaps the richest golfer of all time, considering he's been one of the most successful. What is surprising is seeing him continue to make so much money as an active pro golfer at the age of 48.

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Woods has numerous investments and endorsement deals, and reportedly turned down a massive nine-figure contract with LIV Golf to stay in the PGA. While he'll make tens of millions in 2024, his lifetime earnings are in excess of a billion dollars.

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Nick Bosa: $68 million

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Football runs in Nick Bosa's blood, as the defensive end's father played in the NFL and his older brother, Joey Bosa, is a linebacker for the Los Angeles Chargers.

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Nick Bosa was a defensive standout with Ohio State, and hardly missed a beat after turning pro with the San Francisco 49ers. After earning four Pro Bowl selections, the 49ers rewarded him with a five-year, $170 million contract in 2023, making him the highest-paid defensive player in league history.

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Lewis Hamilton: $69 million

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Sir Lewis Hamilton is more than just an elite Formula One driver. He's also a bona fide mogul, with investments ranging from restaurants to racing endeavours to an ownership stake with the NFL's Denver Broncos.

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Hamilton will earn about $57 million from his F1 deal, and $12 million more in endorsements, in 2024. His overall net worth is north of $300 million, a figure that will likely go up in the years to come.

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Justin Herbert: $78.7 million

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Justin Herbert has established himself as the franchise quarterback of the Los Angeles Chargers, becoming the highest-paid player in NFL history with the $262.5 million, five-year contract he signed in 2023. This mark was quickly eclipsed by Joe Burrow, but Herbert remains one of the highest-paid players in the league.

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Herbert has also branched out as a spokesperson, signing deals with Subway, SoFi (the Chargers play in SoFi Stadium), and Dr. Squatch.

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Rory McIlroy: $80.1 million

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McIlroy has a resumé that establishes him as one of the best golfers of all time, winning four majors and surpassing several of Tiger Woods' high-water marks along the way.

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The better he plays, the more money he makes — and McIlroy has made a lot of money. He's also launched several businesses, including a bid to launch a new golf league. More than half of his 2024 earnings come from his business ventures and endorsements.

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Aaron Rodgers: $80.8 million

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Aaron Rodgers may be at the tail end of his career, but announced he would return for the 2024 season. Rodgers missed nearly all of 2023 after the Green Bay Packers traded the franchise cornerstone to the New York Jets.

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The eccentric quarterback has invested heavily in venture capital and also purchased a minority stake in the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks in 2018. The Bucks won the league championship in 2021, no doubt increasing the value of Rodgers' share.

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Max Verstappen: $81 million

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Verstappen arrived in the world of Formula One as a wunderkind in 2014, with the then-17-year-old being the youngest driver in F1 history. He quickly established his chops, and at the age of 18, became the youngest F1 race winner in history.

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Now in his prime, Verstappen is regarded as one of the best drivers in the world. His deal with Red Bull racing is worth tens of millions of dollars, and his success on the track has ensured even more bonus payouts.

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Anthony Joshua: $83 million

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British heavyweight Anthony Joshua is likely the richest boxer of the modern era, absolutely dominating the sport between 2016 and 2021. While his unbeatable reputation took a hit with his surprise loss to Andy Ruiz Jr. in 2021, Joshua is still a reliable earner.

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Joshua's fight deals are among the most lucrative in boxing history, and he's also a well-known figure on social media. He has 28 million followers across various platforms.

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Patrick Mahomes: $84.4 million

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Mahomes already has a Hall of Fame NFL resumé, with three Super Bowl wins, two MVP awards, and six Pro Bowl selections, all before reaching his 30th birthday.

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Unsurprisingly, he's also very rich. He signed a whopping ten-year contract extension with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2020 worth around half a billion dollars. Off the field, he appeared in the Netflix series Quarterback and also owns minority stakes in various pro sports teams.

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Canelo Álvarez: $85 million

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Álvarez overcame humble beginnings, growing up impoverished outside Guadalajara, Mexico, to become one of the most successful boxers to fight in multiple weight classes.

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While his fights are worth big money, Álvarez has also invested heavily in his homeland. He founded a small chain of convenience stores, and another chain of gas stations, in western Mexico, to go along with his investments in clothing, technology, and entertainment initiatives.

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Shohei Ohtani: $85.3 million

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Ohtani made waves as the first elite two-way player in modern baseball history, finding success as both a pitcher and hitter. In the 2023-24 offseason, he was perhaps the highest-profile free agent in MLB history, with the Los Angeles Dodgers eventually winning the bidding war.

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His popularity is truly global, as Ohtani is enormously popular in his native Japan in addition to being MLB's best player. His massive contract is supplemented with tens of millions of dollars in endorsements with a wide range of brands.

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Kevin Durant: $93.3 million

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Kevin Durant is in the back half of a successful career that's seen him spend time with the Sonics/Thunder, Warriors, Nets, and now the Phoenix Suns. He has one season left on his contract, which pays him north of $50 million a season.

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KD is also an active investor, with his investment firm 35V providing seed money to more than 80 different companies. He's also a stakeholder in the Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer.

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Joe Burrow: $100 million

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Burrow is currently not just the highest-paid player in the NFL. He's also the highest-paid player in NFL history after signing a five-year deal that pays $55 million per season.

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The Bengals quarterback has racked up a few NFL accolades and likely hasn't hit his peak yet. Off the field, he's signed up to endorse brands ranging from Nike to Guinness. He spent time interning for Goldman Sachs, so Burrow likely knows a thing or two about investments.

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Lamar Jackson: $100.5 million

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Jackson won the 2016 Heisman trophy for the Louisville Cardinals, but wasn't particularly highly regarded as an NFL prospect, falling to 32nd overall in the 2018 NFL Draft.

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He quickly proved the doubters wrong, winning two MVP awards in his first six seasons and earning a lucrative five-year, $260 million contract with the Baltimore Ravens. He owns his own sportswear line, Era 8 Apparel, and also endorses Oakley products.

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Stephen Curry: $102 million

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Steph Curry is not just a future Hall of Famer, he's also one of the few players to genuinely change the game of basketball through his elite skills as a long-range shooter.

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Now more than 15 seasons into his NBA career, Curry is still an effective player for the Golden State Warriors. He signed a $200 million contract in 2017, then signed for another $215 million when that contract expired in 2021.

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Karim Benzema: $106 million

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Benzema was already a millionaire several times over thanks to his successes at Lyon and Real Madrid over the past two decades. But in 2023, he became another high-profile soccer star to sign a big-money contract in Saudi Arabia.

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Benzema now plays for Al-Ittihad of the Saudi Pro League, where he makes €100 million per season. This is enough to make him one of the top ten highest-paid athletes in the world, even with relatively few endorsement deals.

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Neymar Júnior: $108 million

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Neymar, a dynamic Brazilian soccer star, is one of the best midfielders of his generation. He also has a decorated club career in Europe to go along with more than a hundred appearances with the Brazilian national team.

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In 2023, Neymar jumped ship from Paris Saint-Germain to the Saudi club Al Hilal on a nine-figure, two-year contract. His endorsements, most notably with Puma, are worth close to $30 million per year.

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Kylian Mbappé: $110 million

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All eyes will be on Kylian Mbappé in the summer of 2024 as the French star moves on from Paris Saint-Germain — with whom he played for more than half a decade and won six Ligue 1 titles — to join Real Madrid of La Liga.

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Mbappé is just 25 years old, but is already one of the most accomplished soccer stars in the world. His ventures off the pitch include endorsement deals with Nike and Hublot, along with his own line of graphic novels.

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Giannis Antetokounmpo: $111 million

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The Greek Freak is one of just three players (the others are LeBron James and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) to win two NBA MVP awards before the age of 26. The Bucks superstar is also an eight-time NBA All-Star and led Milwaukee to the 2021 NBA championship.

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He's consistently been one of the top earners in the league, signing two supermax extensions in 2020 and 2023 respectively. His signature shoe from Nike, the Zoom Freak 1, was one of the company's biggest releases ever.

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LeBron James: $128.2 million

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Old-school fans may disagree, but to a large number of basketball fans, King James is the undisputed GOAT in NBA history. He may have lost half a step over the years, but the 39-year-old is still one of the best currently active basketball players in the world.

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LeBron will always command big contracts, and has earned close to half a billion dollars in NBA salary alone throughout his career. Off the court, his various business ventures have added to a net worth that's north of a billion dollars.

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Lionel Messi: $135 million

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Argentine national Leo Messi is one of the most accomplished soccer players of all time, winning an incredible eight Ballon d'Or awards as the world's best player. In 2023, after spending close to two decades with Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain, he made the jump across the pond to sign with Inter Miami of MLS.

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Messi is closely linked with Adidas, with whom he has a lifetime contract. He's also launched a few business ventures, including a clothing line and an apparel store.

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Jon Rahm: $218 million

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Golf pro Jon Rahm followed up an impressive amateur career in Europe with a promising start as a pro on the PGA Tour. He spent a full year as the PGA's top-ranked player and has won two major championships, the 2021 U.S. Open and the 2023 Masters.

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While Rahm undoubtedly made serious money as a PGA star, his earnings went into the stratosphere after signing a massive deal to jump ship to the upstart organization LIV Golf in late 2023.

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Cristiano Ronaldo: $260 million

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Ronaldo's career is drawing to a close, as the 39-year-old saw his contract terminated by Manchester United in November of 2022. A year later, Saudi club Al Nassr banked on his star power and signed him to a multi-year deal worth €200 million annually.

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Ronaldo isn't just one of the best soccer players of all time, he's also one of the most recognizable public figures in the world. Across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, he has close to a billion followers.