2022 Rich List - Which Sports Star Earns the Most From Salary and Sponsorship?

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2022 Rich List - Which Sports Star Earns the Most From Salary and Sponsorship?
Dan Tracey Data Scientist and Football Editor

Writer, analyst, podcaster, Spurs fan. Three out of four is not bad. If there is a data angle, I will find it.

Earlier this year, Forbes revealed their annual rich list of the top ten highest-earning sports stars for 2022, with the usual suspects such as Lionel Messi, LeBron James and Cristiano Ronaldo amongst those who take home the most money. 

But just exactly how much do they earn per week and per day? And how much additional revenue could each of these stars be earning from social media?

To find out, here at OLBG we’ve analysed data from the total earnings in 2022 of the top ten richest athletes and calculated how each star earns per year and per day throughout the year. Additionally, we’ve also calculated how much extra income the sports stars could make each time they post on Instagram due to the large followings they have. 

Here’s how the world's highest-earning sports stars of 2022 financially stack up against each other… 

Messi Tops the Earnings Chart

Athlete Sport Nationality Salary/winnings ($) Endorsements ($) Total ($) Total (£) Weekly Earnings ($) Weekly Earnings (£) Daily Earnings ($) Daily Earnings (£)
Lionel Messi Association football Argentina 75,000,000.00 55,000,000.00 US$130,000,000.00 £111,800,000.00 US$2,500,000.00 £2,150,000.00 US$356,164.38 £306,301.37
LeBron James Basketball United States 41,200,000.00 80,000,000.00 US$121,200,000.00 £104,232,000.00 US$2,330,769.23 £2,004,461.54 US$332,054.79 £285,567.12
Cristiano Ronaldo Association football Portugal 60,000,000.00 55,000,000.00 US$115,000,000.00 £98,900,000.00 US$2,211,538.46 £1,901,923.08 US$315,068.49 £270,958.90
Neymar Association football Brazil 70,000,000.00 25,000,000.00 US$95,000,000.00 £81,700,000.00 US$1,826,923.08 £1,571,153.85 US$260,273.97 £223,835.62
Stephen Curry Basketball United States 45,800,000.00 47,000,000.00 US$92,800,000.00 £79,808,000.00 US$1,784,615.38 £1,534,769.23 US$254,246.58 £218,652.05
Kevin Durant Basketball United States 42,100,000.00 50,000,000.00 US$92,100,000.00 £79,206,000.00 US$1,771,153.85 £1,523,192.31 US$252,328.77 £217,002.74
Roger Federer Tennis Switzerland 700,000.00 90,000,000.00 US$90,700,000.00 £78,002,000.00 US$1,744,230.77 £1,500,038.46 US$248,493.15 £213,704.11
Canelo Álvarez Boxing Mexico 85,000,000.00 5,000,000.00 US$90,000,000.00 £77,400,000.00 US$1,730,769.23 £1,488,461.54 US$246,575.34 £212,054.79
Tom Brady American football United States 31,900,000.00 52,000,000.00 US$83,900,000.00 £72,154,000.00 US$1,613,461.54 £1,387,576.92 US$229,863.01 £197,682.19
Giannis Antetokounmpo Basketball Greece 39,900,000.00 41,000,000.00 US$80,900,000.00 £69,574,000.00 US$1,555,769.23 £1,337,961.54 US$221,643.84 £190,613.70

Lionel Messi

Argentina and PSG footballing megastar Lionel Messi has topped the Forbes sports stars rich list and is set to make a staggering total of £111,800,000 in earnings throughout 2022, equating to £2.15 million per week. Messi signed for PSG last summer after being forced to leave his beloved Barcelona, but he now earns more at the Qatar-backed French club - reportedly close to £700,000 per week - making him the second highest-paid player in the world behind his teammate Kylian Mbappe. 

Basketball star LeBron James ranked behind Messi with his total earnings just shy of £105 million. The big difference between the two athletes was the amount James earned from endorsements/ sponsorship, with that figure accounting for around 66% of his total earnings. 

Lebron James Erik Drost, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Cristiano Ronaldo, still playing in the Premier League was third, making just under £100 million this year and having a very even split between salary and sponsorship. Messi’s teammate Neymar placed behind the Portuguese superstar, but was some £17 million off CR7’s total, having a higher salary, but significantly fewer endorsements. 

Elsewhere on the list, Tennis sensation Roger Federer was perhaps a surprise entry, given he has hardly played over the last few years thanks to injuries. The Swiss star earned just over £600,000 in winnings/ salary, which is by far the lowest on the list, however, due to the huge Federer brand he’s built up over his 20-plus year career, Roger earned just under £80 million in sponsorship deals. In fact, across his career, he is one of only a handful of athletes to earn over $1 Billion in endorsement deals. 

Ronaldo is the top Insta Earner

Athlete Sport Insta Followers Earning per post
Cristiano Ronaldo Association football 477,243,026.00 £1,574,901.99
Lionel Messi Association football 357,632,437.00 £1,180,187.04
Neymar Association football 178,008,285.00 £587,427.34
LeBron James Basketball 131,171,888.00 £432,867.23
Stephen Curry Basketball 45,838,746.00 £151,267.86
Canelo Álvarez Boxing 13,469,215.00 £44,448.41
Giannis Antetokounmpo Basketball 13,316,312.00 £43,943.83
Kevin Durant Basketball 13,079,322.00 £43,161.76
Tom Brady American football 12,652,919.00 £41,754.63
Roger Federer Tennis 9,807,409.00 £32,364.45

Cristiano Ronaldo

Thanks to his huge following of over 477 million on the social media platform, Ronaldo can earn approximately £1.5 million per Instagram post. That figure is the most by some distance with only Lionel Messi coming anywhere near it at just under £1.2 million due to his 357 million plus followers.  

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Messi’s PSG teammate Neymar was third, boasting a 178 million strong following, meaning he can earn approximately £587,427 from each post on the platform. LeBron James was the only other athlete to breach the 100 million plus follower mark as his 131 million followers earned the LA Lakers star around £432,000 per post. 

Roger Federer finished bottom of the pile with the lowest following of nearly 10 million earning him around £32,000 per post, which is still a lot of money, however with the sums the athletes on this list earn, it’s probably not an extra revenue stream they would consider. 

Federa: image: PROMA1/Shutterstock

There wasn’t too much to separate the rest of the list with Boxer Canelo Álvarez, Basketball players Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kevin Durant and NFL legend Tom Brady all earning in the range of £41,000 - £45,000 each time they post. Like Federer, they won’t consider it much based on their earnings from salaries and endorsements.   

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