Since the beginning of civilization, sports have been of great importance and athletes have always been idolized. Successful athletes were guaranteed fame, but wealth was less certain, even if some were very wealthy.
There are many popular sports around the world, but football is arguably the most watched sport in the world. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, who together boast 940 million followers on Instagram, are arguably the two greatest footballers of all time and one of the highest-paid athletes of all time. Other popular sports include baseball, American football, basketball, and golf, some of which are particularly popular in the United States.
Michael Jordan is arguably the highest-paid athlete of all time, even though he only signed a fraction of his contracts with the teams he played for. He has earned a considerable amount of money and has brought him a considerable income. Considered the greatest NBA player of all time, Jordan only made more than $4 million twice during his 15-year career, but his main source of income came from his partnership with Nike Inc.
When Tiger Woods reached the milestone in 2009, he became the first athlete in history to earn $1 billion in real money. Although Tiger Woods' best days are long gone and he has been embroiled in scandal since then, there is no doubting his accomplishments in the world of golf.
Three of the top four positions on the list of highest-paid athletes of all time are held by golfers. Over the decades, Arnold Palmer has achieved his 62 wins on the PGA Tour. Many people think of golf as a sport only for the rich, but Palmer's humble upbringing helped change that mindset.
Jack Nicklaus was the youngest man to win a major golf tournament at age 26. Even though he became a golfer in 1961, Nicklaus still earned an income of $830 million.
In fifth place is Cristiano Ronaldo, perhaps the most famous player of all time, especially the second most followers on Instagram. This is true considering that there are more than 100 million people in the country. Ronaldo is also one of the most successful players of all time and has long been considered one of the greatest.
The highest-paid athlete of all time is one of the most successful athletes in their respective field, Floyd -Mayweather is considered a legend due to his undefeated streak. He is a boxing legend and arguably one of the greatest defensive boxers of all time. That pay-per-view earned him over $1.67 billion. For his fight with Manny Pacquiao, Mayweather's handbag alone is estimated to cost between $180 million and $300 million.
LeBron James, considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time, also has several companies including McDonald's Corporation. He also earns a large amount of money from sponsorship contracts.
Arguably the greatest soccer player of all time, Messi's career has led Argentina to his 2022 debut in Qatar. In early 2021, Messi's contract with Barcelona was leaked. Worth 555 million euros, it is the most important sponsorship deal in history.
The F1 legend has driven for numerous racing associations including Mercedes and Ferrari N.V. Michael Schumacher is the most successful racing driver of all time, winning seven Formula One titles and becoming the world's highest-paid athlete in 1999 and 2000.
However, although he no longer holds the record for most Grand Slams, Roger Federer's influence on tennis is undeniable. The Swiss legend was at number one for 237 consecutive weeks, which is still a record. Along with Nadal and Djokovic, Federer dominated the tennis world from the early 2000s to the early 2010s, becoming the oldest Grand Slam champion at age 36.