Which Sports Stars Earn the Most per Minute

Which sporting superstars earn the most per minute they spend in action?

Which Sports Stars Earn the Most per Minute

We all know that the top athletes in the world are incredibly wealthy, earning millions and millions of dollars each year. But which of the world’s top sports people are working the hardest to bring home the bacon? 

As a US betting site, we wanted to study the earnings of the highest-paid athletes in the past twelve months and compare this with how many minutes they spent on the field, court, or ring, to find out who makes the most money for every minute of competitive action.

Earnings Per Minute by Athlete

Rank Name Sport On-the-field Earnings Minutes played Earnings Per Minute Time to Earn $1m
1 Conor McGregor Mixed Martial Arts $33M 5 $6,600,000 9 seconds
2 Canelo Álvarez Boxing $85M 61 $1,393,443 43 seconds
3 Tyson Fury Boxing $60M 55 $1,090,909 55 seconds
4 Jake Paul Boxing $30M 44 $681,818 1 minute, 28 seconds
5 Ryan Ramczyk Football $38.7M 600 $64,500 15 minutes, 30 seconds
6 Aaron Rodgers Football $57M 1,020 $55,882 17 minutes, 54 seconds
7 Matthew Stafford Football $69.8M 1,260 $55,397 18 minutes, 3 seconds
8 Josh Allen Football $63M 1,140 $55,263 18 minutes, 6 seconds
9 Kirk Cousins Football $46M 960 $47,917 20 minutes, 52 seconds
10 Amari Cooper Football $38.9M 900 $43,222 23 minutes, 8 seconds
11 Marshon Lattimore Football $40.8M 960 $42,500 23 minutes, 32 seconds
12 Klay Thompson Basketball $38M 941 $40,383 24 minutes, 46 seconds
13 T.J. Watt Football $36.6M 960 $38,125 26 minutes, 14 seconds
14 Damian Lillard Basketball $39.4M 1,056 $37,311 26 minutes, 48 seconds
15 Kemba Walker Basketball $35M 948 $36,920 27 minutes, 5 seconds
16 Paul George Basketball $39.4M 1,077 $36,583 27 minutes, 20 seconds
17 Stefon Diggs Football $36.2M 1,140 $31,754 31 minutes, 30 seconds
18 Neymar Soccer $70M 2,328 $30,069 33 minutes, 15 seconds
19 Russell Wilson Football $24M 840 $28,571 35 minutes
20 Tom Brady Football $31.9M 1,140 $27,982 35 minutes, 44 seconds
21 Dak Prescott Football $27.4M 1,020 $26,863 37 minutes, 14 seconds
22 Lionel Messi Soccer $75M 2,872 $26,114 38 minutes, 18 seconds
23 Anthony Davis Basketball $35.4M 1,404 $25,214 39 minutes, 40 seconds
24 Patrick Mahomes Football $29.1M 1,200 $24,250 41 minutes, 14 seconds
25 Bradley Beal Basketball $33.7M 1,439 $23,419 42 minutes, 42 seconds
26 Stephen Curry Basketball $45.8M 2,211 $20,715 48 minutes, 17 seconds
27 Kevin Durant Basketball $42.1M 2,047 $20,567 48 minutes, 37 seconds
28 LeBron James Basketball $41.2M 2,084 $19,770 50 minutes, 35 seconds
29 Jimmy Butler Basketball $36M 1,931 $18,643 53 minutes, 38 seconds
30 Cristiano Ronaldo Soccer $60M 3,220 $18,634 53 minutes, 40 seconds
31 James Harden Basketball $44.4M 2,419 $18,355 54 minutes, 29 seconds
32 Giannis Antetokounmpo Basketball $39.9M 2,204 $18,103 55 minutes, 14 seconds
33 Russell Westbrook Basketball $44.2M 2,678 $16,505 1 hour, 35 seconds
34 Chris Paul Basketball $31.1M 2,139 $14,540 1 hour, 8 minutes, 47 seconds
35 Joel Embiid Basketball $31.7M 2,297 $13,801 1 hour, 12 minutes, 28 seconds
36 Devin Booker Basketball $31.9M 2,345 $13,603 1 hour, 13 minutes, 31 seconds
37 Kylian Mbappé Soccer $28M 3,912 $7,157 2 hours, 19 minutes, 43 seconds
38 Mohamed Salah Soccer $27M 4,012 $6,730 2 hours, 28 minutes, 36 seconds

Conor McGregor - $6.6 million per minute

Conor McGregor maintains his place at the top earning $6.6 million for every minute in action in the UFC. McGregor spent two more minutes in action than last year, however, his earnings have increased by $11 million. The Irishman had just one fight between May 2021 and May 2022, which was the third rematch against Dustin Poirier. McGregor lost via TKO after a leg injury in the first round. 

Canelo Alvarez - $1.4 million per minute

Canelo Alvarez maintains second place earning $1,393,443 for every minute in action. Alvarez had a huge increase in earnings since last year, with his in-ring earnings rising by $50 million. This also saw his earnings per minute triple from $444,444 to just under $1.4 million. The Mexican had two fights in our time frame, winning against Billy Joe Saunders and Caleb Plant. 

Tyson Fury - $1 million per minute 

Tyson Fury completes our top three earning $1,090,909 for every minute in action. The Gypsy King replaces Dak Prescott who took third place last year, earning $325,000 every minute. Fury had two fights in our time range, against Deontay Wilder and Dillian Whyte. Fury won both by KO and TKO respectively.  

Boxing/MMA

boxing/MMA

The top names in combat sports such as boxing and mixed martial arts (MMA) get paid a huge amount of money for putting their bodies through the wringer, but they also spend by far the least amount of time in competitive action.

Conor McGregor and Canelo Alvarez were the only two fighters to feature on last year's list of the top 50 richest athletes in the world, and this year they are joined by Jake Paul and Tyson Fury. Of course, these fighters dedicate months of their lives training to be in peak condition for their big-money fights, but we found that boxer Canelo Álvarez spent just 61 minutes in the ring last year. Alvarez spent the most amount of time in the ring compared to the other fighters on our list, and also had the highest on-field earnings at $85 million. 

Conor McGregor, who lasted just 2 minutes and 32 seconds last year, managed to last twice as long in his second rematch against Dustin Poirier in July, a fight that concluded in the same result just six months earlier. 

Despite McGregor’s earnings per minute decreasing from the previous year, his in-ring earnings increased by 50% and remained the fighter who earned the most per minute. 

Rank Name Sport On-the-field Earnings Minutes played Earnings Per Minute Time to Earn $1m
1 Conor McGregor Mixed Martial Arts $33M 5 $6,600,000 9 seconds
2 Canelo Álvarez Boxing $85M 61 $1,393,443 43 seconds
3 Tyson Fury Boxing $60M 55 $1,090,909 55 seconds
4 Jake Paul Boxing $30M 44 $681,818 1 minute, 28 seconds

Football

American football

The NFL is one of the highest-paid major sports leagues in the world, but its stars actually spend a lot less time on the field than those in other sports.

The 2021 NFL season lasted for 17 games (followed by the postseason), with games lasting for just 60 minutes. Dak Prescott was replaced by Ryan Ramczyk as the NFL player who earned the most per minute. Ramczyk’s knee injury in the 2021 season meant he made just 10 appearances for the New Orleans Saints, and as a result, earned $64,500 per minute. 

Matthew Stafford, who wasn’t on last year's list, also replaces Prescott as the NFL’s highest earner, however, his earnings weren’t as high as the $97.5m Prescott earned last year. 

Rank Name Sport On-the-field Earnings Minutes played Earnings Per Minute Time to Earn $1m
1 Ryan Ramczyk Football $38.7M 600 $64,500 15 minutes, 30 seconds
2 Aaron Rodgers Football $57M 1020 $55,882 17 minutes, 54 seconds
3 Matthew Stafford Football $69.8M 1260 $55,397 18 minutes, 3 seconds
4 Josh Allen Football $63M 1140 $55,263 18 minutes, 6 seconds
5 Kirk Cousins Football $46M 960 $47,917 20 minutes, 52 seconds
6 Amari Cooper Football $38.9M 900 $43,222 23 minutes, 8 seconds
7 Marshon Lattimore Football $40.8M 960 $42,500 23 minutes, 32 seconds
8 T.J. Watt Football $36.6M 960 $38,125 26 minutes, 14 seconds
9 Stefon Diggs Football $36.2M 1140 $31,754 31 minutes, 30 seconds
10 Russell Wilson Football $24M 840 $28,571 35 minutes
11 Tom Brady Football $31.9M 1140 $27,982 35 minutes, 44 seconds
12 Dak Prescott Football $27.4M 1020 $26,863 37 minutes, 14 seconds
13 Patrick Mahomes Football $29.1M 1200 $24,250 41 minutes, 14 seconds

Soccer

Football/Soccer

Soccer is home to three of the top five highest-paid athletes in the world, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar.

While the soccer season is usually relatively long, especially if the team goes on a long cup run or does well in Europe, with the top players rarely being substituted too, these mega wages mean that the top players still take home a huge sum per minute played.

Last year, eight football players were included in the top 50, however this year it’s just five, with Andres Iniesta, Paul Pogba, and Robert Lewandowski dropping out.  

Rank Name Sport On-the-field Earnings Minutes played Earnings Per Minute Time to Earn $1m
1 Neymar Soccer $70M 2328 $30,069 33 minutes, 15 seconds
2 Lionel Messi Soccer $75M 2872 $26,114 38 minutes, 18 seconds
3 Cristiano Ronaldo Soccer $60M 3220 $18,634 53 minutes, 40 seconds
4 Kylian Mbappé Soccer $28M 3912 $7,157 2 hours, 19 minutes, 43 seconds
5 Mohamed Salah Soccer $27M 4012 $6,730 2 hours, 28 minutes, 36 seconds

Despite his on-field earnings decreasing, and his minutes played increasing, Neymar still had the highest earnings per minute, at $30,069, followed by Lionel Messi, at $26,114.

Basketball

Basketball

After a COVID-19 hit 2020-21 season, the NBA returned to a full 82-game regular season. 16 basketball players entered the top 50 

Klay Thompson earned the most per minute at $40,383, followed by Damian Lillard, who earned $37,311 per minute, and Kemba Walker, who earned $36,920 per minute. 

Rank Name Sport On-the-field Earnings Minutes played Earnings Per Minute Time to Earn $1m
1 Klay Thompson Basketball $38M 941 $40,383 24 minutes, 46 seconds
2 Damian Lillard Basketball $39.4M 1056 $37,311 26 minutes, 48 seconds
3 Kemba Walker Basketball $35M 948 $36,920 27 minutes, 5 seconds
4 Paul George Basketball $39.4M 1077 $36,583 27 minutes, 20 seconds
5 Anthony Davis Basketball $35.4M 1404 $25,214 39 minutes, 40 seconds
6 Bradley Beal Basketball $33.7M 1439 $23,419 42 minutes, 42 seconds
7 Stephen Curry Basketball $45.8M 2211 $20,715 48 minutes, 17 seconds
8 Kevin Durant Basketball $42.1M 2047 $20,567 48 minutes, 37 seconds
9 LeBron James Basketball $41.2M 2084 $19,770 50 minutes, 35 seconds
10 Jimmy Butler Basketball $36M 1931 $18,643 53 minutes, 38 seconds
11 James Harden Basketball $44.4M 2419 $18,355 54 minutes, 29 seconds
12 Giannis Antetokounmpo Basketball $39.9M 2204 $18,103 55 minutes, 14 seconds
13 Russell Westbrook Basketball $44.2M 2678 $16,505 1 hour, 35 seconds
14 Chris Paul Basketball $31.1M 2139 $14,540 1 hour, 8 minutes, 47 seconds
15 Joel Embiid Basketball $31.7M 2297 $13,801 1 hour, 12 minutes, 28 seconds
16 Devin Booker Basketball $31.9M 2345 $13,603 1 hour, 13 minutes, 31 seconds
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Summary by Sport

So, how do the earnings per minute break down across the different sports? As you can see, those in boxing & MMA bring home by far the most for every minute of competitive action ($1,260,606) and far more than any of the other highest-earning sports.

At the other end of the spectrum, soccer players made the least per minute, with $17,922, slightly behind basketball players at $22,033. Overall, the earnings per minute increased in every sport.

Rank Sport On-The-Field Earnings Minutes Played Earnings per Minute
1 Boxing/MMA $208M 165 $1,260,606
2 Football $714.4M 13300 $53,714
3 Basketball $609.2M 27649 $22,033
4 Soccer $293M 16349 $17,922

Significant Changes in 2022

Biggest increase in earnings

Canelo Alvarez saw his in-ring earnings skyrocket in 2022, going from $32 million to $85 million - an increase of 165%. This was followed by Giannis Antetokounmpo, whose on-court earnings almost doubled, from $22 million to $39.9 million and Damian Lillard whose wages increased by 54%. 

Biggest decrease in earnings 

Dak Prescott takes this crown, with his on-field earnings dropping by 71%. Dak Prescott was earning an incredible $97.5 million, however, this figure has dropped to $27.4 million. Tom Brady also saw a decrease of almost 30% in his earnings on the field. 

Biggest decrease in time taken to earn $1 million

It took Damian Lillard just 26 minutes and 48 seconds to earn $1 million in 2022, beating last year's time of 1 hour and 44 minutes. In total, the time taken to earn $1 million was 1 hour and 17 minutes quicker than the previous year. 

Biggest increase in time taken to earn $1 million

Last year, Dak Prescott was earning $1 million in just 3 minutes and 5 seconds of competitive action. However, this year, that figure has increased by just over 34 minutes, to 37 minutes and 14 seconds. 

Biggest increase in earnings per minute

Damian Lillard is having a great year financially, earning $37,311 per minute in 2022. This was a 287% increase from his 2021 figure of just $9,637. Paul George and Canelo Alvarez also saw their earnings per minute rise by over 200%.

Biggest decrease in earnings per minute 

On the other hand, Dak Prescott saw his earnings per minute drop significantly, from $325,000 to $26,863. However, this was largely due to an ankle injury which kept him out of the 2020 season. Prescott managed 1020 minutes of action in the 2021 season, compared to just 300 during the season before. 

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Methodology

We took the on-field earnings of the 50 highest-earning athletes in the world according to Forbes’ 2022 list of Highest-Paid Athletes, choosing to focus just on those athletes from the worlds of American football, basketball, association football, boxing, and MMA.

We then sourced the number of minutes played by each athlete in the 2021-22 season (or between the dates of May 1st, 2021, and 2022 for boxing and MMA) using the following sources:

https://www.basketball-reference.com/players/

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/

https://www.transfermarkt.co.uk/

https://boxrec.com/en/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UFC_257

Note that for American Football players, statistics for minutes played were unavailable, so we took the number of games played and multiplied them by 60 (the standard number of minutes for an NFL match).

We included all league fixtures as well as postseason games for American Football and basketball, as well as cup games for association football players.

Our figures only account for playtime and do not take into account the time spent training, but demonstrate how much is earned by each sports star during a game or match.

Note that we excluded Deshaun Watson, Kawhi Leonard, and John Wall who did not make any appearances. 

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