What Is the Highest Paid Sports in the World?

Here is an article that discusses the highest paid sports in the world and more.

Looking at the origin of sports, we can go back centuries to ancient Greek and the Olympic games.

We all have our favourite sports and teams we love cheering to victory on game days. Some of our favourite NBA, NFL or soccer stars earn millions of dollars each year.

The sporting world is not just about entertainment, it’s one of the lucrative industries right now. Players in different sports earn six figures a year and they also get huge endorsement deals.

In the early 2000s, Tiger Woods was the richest sportsman on the planet. But is golf one of the highest paid sports in the world today? Well, you will find out at the end of the guide.

Highest Paid Sports in the World

The History of Sports

Just like we said earlier, the origin of sports dates back centuries. Back then, the physical activity that turned into sports had links to entertainment, ritual and warfare.

The study of the origin of sports can teach us so much more about social change as well as the nature of sports. It involves the development of basic human skills, enhancing physical performances as time progresses.

Going back centuries when it all began, sports were pretty much related to military training. In the ancient world, individuals must face competition to prove that they are useful and fit for service. It was all about showing strength by undergoing physical tests.

Back then, people had to work together as a sports team to prove their capability to fight in the military.

Now there were cave paintings discovered in the Lascaux caves in France. The ancient painting depicts sports like swimming and wrestling in the Upper Paleolithic, which was over 15 millennia ago.

Mongolia is another country with these ancient paintings. Cave paintings dating back to the Neolithic age were found in the Bayankhongor province of the country.

The ancient painting shows a wrestling match with spectators surrounding the arena.

There have been other ancient paintings found in places like Egypt and Japan. The cave paintings depict sports like swimming, archery, and sumo wrestling. All these ancient paintings date back thousands of years.

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Top Ten Highest Paid Sports in the World

The best basketball players in the NBA earn six figures annually. NBA stars are not the only professional players making huge amounts every year.

Some of the figure earners can also be found in sports. For instance, soccer stars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo earn hundreds of dollars each year.

Let’s not forget American Football and Tennis players are among those earning six figures each year.

Here are the top ten highest paid sports in the world.

#10. Cycling

We begin our list with cycling, coming in the tenth position.

Cycling is a sport that was invented in the late 19th century. It was also during that time that bicycles were introduced to the world.

Currently, cycling is one of the most attractive sports in the world. We have seen different cycling tournaments hosted in major cities across the world.

Tour de France is the most popular cycling tournament in the world and it attracts some of the best riders. Twenty professional teams of nine riders compete in the tournament each year.

Tour de France may be the best cycling tournament in a calendar year, but there are also other cycling tournaments. Strade Bianche, Vuelta a Espana, Milan Sanremo, and Tour of Flanders are also cycling tournaments hosted in other major cities.

Back in 2010, Lance Armstrong was ranked 9th on the list of richest players. A list released by Forbes confirmed the legendary cyclist as one of the top earners with an overall income of $28 million.

Currently, Tadej Pogacar has an earning contract salary of $6.6 million. The Slovenian won the 2020 and 2021 editions of the Tour de France. However, Tadej Pogocar’s net worth is $5 million.

Peter Sagan is another professional cyclist with a contract salary of $6 million. The Slovakian has a net worth of $ 33 million and he is racing for Total Energies in the UCI Pro Team.

#9. Auto Racing

Auto Racing remains one of the most popular sports in the United States. It’s also a huge sport in different regions of Europe. 

Auto Racing is one of the most dangerous sports in the world, considering the number of crashes and deaths. Besides that, Auto Racing is one of the highest paid sports in the world.

One of the greatest divers to compete in Formula One was Michael Schumacher. The former German race car driver had over $1 billion in career winnings. He won seven championships and secured over 1,500 career points.

Michael Schumacher holds the record for the fastest laps (77) and currently has a net worth of about $600 million.

Sir Lewis Hamilton broke some of Schumacher’s records. The famous British driver currently has a net of over $26o million.

#8. Baseball

Next on our list of highest paid sports in the world is baseball. 

Baseball is a sport that is very popular in the United States and other parts of Asia. Countries like Japan and South Korea are places where baseball is also popular.

Just like FIFA ( Federation Internationale de Football Association), IBAF (International Baseball Federation) is the governing body in charge of baseball.

The richest baseball player is former MLB star, Alex Rodriguez. The American currently has a net worth of $400 million.

MLB stars have also been featured on Forbes’s list of richest athletes. Major League Baseball in the United States is the most popular baseball league in the world.

#7. Ice Hockey

Here is another sport that is very popular in North America.

Ice Hockey is one of the most watched sports in the United States and Canada. The sport is played indoors by teams comprising six players.

International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) is the governing body in charge of the sports. The biggest ice hockey league in the world is the National Hockey League in the United States.

Ice Hockey is also popular in countries like Russia, Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic, Germany, France, Slovakia, Japan, and Switzerland.

Currently, Nathan MacKinnon is highest paid ice hockey player earning an annual salary of $12.6 million. 

The richest ice hockey player is former Canadian Wayne Gretzky with a net worth estimated at $200 million.

#6. Tennis

Tennis is an amazing sport that attracts thousands of spectators during major tournaments.

Each year, thousands gather to watch their favourite tennis player at the U.S open, French Open, Wimbledon or the Australian Open. The Australia Open in January is the first Grand Slam Tournament in a calendar year.

The French Open starts in May, followed by Wimbledon, and then the U.S Open in August-September.

We have seen the best female tennis players competing at different tournaments. Former female American tennis player Serena Williams is the most successful in the sport with 23 Grand Slam victories.

In the male category, Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal is the most successful with 22 Grand Slam titles. 

For the richest tennis player, former Swiss professional Roger Federer is the richest with a net worth of over $500 million.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) is the governing body for tennis and they also oversee major tournaments in a calendar year.

#5. Soccer

In the United States, they call it soccer, but in other regions of the world, it’s called football.

In my opinion, this is the most watched sport in the world. The FIFA World Cup is a major tournament that brings fans from different parts of the world. The FIFA World Cup is hosted once every four years and 32 teams compete for the ultimate price.

Qatar hosted the 2022 FIFA World Cup and the country spent over $200 billion. The winner of the tournament will receive $42 million and other teams that made it to the last eight will also receive cash prizes.

Soccer players are among the highest paid athletes on the Forbes list. Currently, Argentine star Lionel Messi is the richest athlete on the Forbes list, with an annual salary of $75 million.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar are third on the list with an annual salaries of $60 million and $70 million respectively.

On the other hand, Cristiano Ronaldo was the first active team sport athlete to surpass $1 billion in career earnings. The Portuguese currently has a net worth of $500 million.

This is why soccer comes in the fifth position of the highest paid sports in the world. FIFA is the governing body for soccer and each continent has its confederation. 

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#4. Golf

Most people would agree that golf is one of the most difficult sports to get perfection.

In the early 2000s, Tiger Woods was the richest athlete in the world and he held that position for a couple of years. The American was top of Forbes as the richest athlete for a record eleven times.

Presently, Tiger Woods has a net worth of $1.1 billion. Major golf tournaments include Masters Tournament, PGA Championship, U.S Open, and the Open Championship.

#3. American Football

The National Football League (NFL) is the most popular American football league worldwide. The NFL is huge and it remains one of the most-watched sports in the United States.

In the United States, the Super Bowl brings thousands of fans to stadiums and millions watch on TV across the country. It’s the annual final playoff game of the National Football League (NFL).

Two teams will compete to determine the league champion and the winner will be awarded the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

NFL players earn millions of dollars as annual salaries. Presently, Aaron Rodgers is the highest paid NFL player, earning an annual salary of $50.3 million. Russell Wilson is second on the list with an annual salary of $49 million.

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#2. Boxing

Boxing is one of the most popular sports in the world and in the 1960s, the greatest “Mohammed Ali” burst onto the boxing scene and enjoyed several wins in the ring.

In the mid-1980s, Mike Tyson became one of the best athletes to walk into a boxing ring.

Boxing has become one of the highest paid sports in the world in today’s society. Professional boxers fighting in different divisions earn huge amounts after a victory in the ring.

With fifty wins and zero defeats, Floyd Mayweather Jr. is currently the richest professional boxer. The former American professional boxer has a net worth of $450 million. Mayweather’s boxing match with Manny Pacquiao had the most boxing pay-per-view (PPV) buys in history.

#1. Basketball

The NBA ranks first as the highest paid sport in the world.

Basketball is a huge sport in the United States and one of the most watched sports in the country.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is a pro basketball league in North America. The NBA is composed of thirty teams, twenty-nine from the United States and just one team from Canada.

Toronto Raptors joined the NBA back in 1995 and currently is the only Canadian professional basket team in the league.

LeBron James is currently the highest paid NBA player earning an annual salary of $44 million. However, the richest NBA player is Michael Jordon with a net worth of $1.7 billion.

So there you have it, our list of highest paid sports in the world.

Forbes List of the World Highest Paid Athletes

Below is Forbes’s list of the world’s highest paid athletes.

Lionel Messi (Soccer)$130 million$75 million$55 million
LeBron James (Basketball)$121.2 million$41.1 million$80 million
Cristiano Ronaldo (Soccer)$115 million$60 million$55 million
Neymar (Soccer)$95 million$70 million$25 million
Stephen Curry (Basketball)$92.8 million$45.8 million$47 million
Kevin Durant (Basketball)$92.1 million$42.1 million$50 million
Roger Federer (Tennis)$90.7 million$0.7 million$90 million
Canelo Alvarez (Boxing)$90 million$85 million$% million
Tom Brady (American Football)$83.9 million$31.9 million$52 million
Giannis Antetokounmpo (Basketball)$80.9 million$39 million$41 million

Highest Paying National Basket Association (NBA) Teams

Below is the ranking of the highest paying NBA teams.

NBA TeamsAverage Annual Salary
Portland Trail Blazers$10.03 million
Golden State Warriors$9.9 million
Orlando Magic$9.4 million
Oklahoma City Thunder$9.4 million
Denver Nuggets$9.3 million
Miami Heat$9.2 million
Cleveland Cavaliers9.2 million
Houston Rockets$9.1 million
Los Angeles Clippers$8.6 million
Philadelphia 76ers$8.6 million


Sporting events are always exciting, whether it’s basketball, soccer, American football or baseball games. Millions of dollars are spent to organize games we enjoy watching at home.

The best athlete in various sports earns a huge amount of money doing what they love. Forbes list shows us what these athletes earn each year, including endorsement. I believe you are now familiar with the highest paid sports in the world. 



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