Whether they are soccer stars, basketball heroes or American soccer players, professional athletes earn millions not only through their sporting achievements. Sponsorship and advertising contracts also bring these prominent athletes highly remunerative additional earnings. The richest among them are listed in the annual “Forbes” ranking of the best-paid athletes.

In the last twelve months, the top ten earners among the athletes earned a combined $992 million. That’s the third-highest total ever – only in 2018 and 2021 did athletes earn more in total. 

These are the world’s highest-paid athletes in the current 2022 rankings


Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks – Basketball (NBA)

Giannis Antetokounmpo is a basketball player currently under contract with the Milwaukee Bucks. His annual income puts the Greek player in tenth place in the ranking of the best-paid athletes. At the NBA club Milwaukee Bucks, the Greek basketball player earns 39.9 million dollars per year. His advertising contracts bring him an additional 41 million dollars. Giannis Antetokounmpo thus earned a total of 80.9 million U.S. dollars in the last twelve months. Because Neymar turned 30 in February, 27-year-old Giannis Antetokounmpo is also the only athlete under thirty in the top ten highest-paid athletes in 2022.

Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – American Football (NFL)

Tom Brady, the best quarterback of all time, once again makes it to ninth place among the highest-paid athletes in the world this year. In February 2022, the quarterback of the Taympa Bay Buccaneers initially announced his career end at the age of 44. Not even 40 days later, Tom Brady changed his mind and announced that he will play another season in the NFL, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

After 20 seasons with the New England Patriots, Tom Brady moved to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020. With the Buccaneers, Brady won the Super Bowl title in his first season there. In the last twelve months, Tom Brady earned 31.9 million US dollars. 

In addition to his own brand TB12 and the NFT platform Autograph, which Brady co-founded, there are numerous advertising deals with partners such as Under Armour, IWC Schaffhausen and T-Mobile. These flush an additional $52 million into his coffers. Tom Brady’s income last year thus amounts to around 83.9 million US dollars. In case Tom Brady ends his career in the next few years, he is said to be already working on a deal with Fox Sports. Fox Sports wants the most successful quarterback of all time to be a TV pundit. The deal is expected to pay Brady $375 million over the next ten years.

Canelo Álvarez, Boxing 

Mexican professional boxer Santos Saúl Álvarez Barragán, also known as Canelo Álvarez, ranks eighth among the highest-paid athletes in the world this year. Álvarez is a multiple world champion at light middleweight, middleweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight. As a professional boxer, Canelo Álvarez earned about $85 million last year. In addition, he earned around $5 million from advertising partnerships with brands such as Hennessy. Canelo Álvarez also celebritylifecycle owns a taco restaurant in Mexico. In total, Canelo Álvarez thus earned $82 million last year. 

Roger Federer, tennis

Swiss tennis pro Roger Federer lands in seventh place this year. While he topped the list in 2020 with an income of 106.3 million U.S. dollars, this year he is only in seventh place with a still impressive income of around 90.7 million U.S. dollars. The tennis star’s advertising partners include companies such as Credit Suisse, Rolex and Uniqlo. 

Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets – Basketball (NBA)

Kevin Durant is a professional basketball player and is currently under contract with the Brooklyn Nets in the NBA. His annual income puts him sixth in this year’s “Forbes” ranking of the best-paid athletes. The Brooklyn Nets pay the NBA star a considerable sum of 42.1 million dollars per year. Off the court, Kevin Durant earns around $50 million from advertising contracts and his investments in various companies. In total, therefore, the athlete earned $92.1 million within the last twelve months.

Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors – Basketball (NBA)

NBA player Stephen Curry is the fifth highest-paid athlete in 2022. The basketball star, who has been under contract with the Golden State Warriors since the start of his professional career in 2009, receives an annual salary of 45.8 million US dollars. Profitable advertising deals – for example with sportswear manufacturer Under Armour or Japanese carmaker Nissan – also bring Stephen Curry a further 47 million dollars a year. All in all, that means an annual income of around $92.8 million for the NBA star.