2020’s Highest-Earning AthletesPosted By: Bill Russell | February 2, 2021
Each year, sports fans follow their favorite athletes around the world as they compete for glory. But they aren’t the only ones staying close to the world’s top sporting talents. Even those who don’t consider themselves sports know top names like Roger Federer or Conor McGregor. You might never have seen them in a tennis match or bout of MMA fighting, but you may recognize both faces from popular ads for brands like Rolex and Reebok, respectively.
When it comes to the world’s richest athletes, wealth may begin with a championship title but continues with big-name endorsements. Keep reading for a peek behind some of 2020’s highest-earning athletes and who paid their fortunes.
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2020’s Highest-Earning Athletes
Number One: Roger Federer
As the number one earner with $106 million in earnings (pre-tax), Federer’s domination is likely thanks to his international appeal. While football stars enjoy global fandom and name recognition, the ATP’s tennis competitions are just as popular—but with larger purses that single athletes can claim for themselves.
Plus, in countries like the US, for example, sports like tennis receive more attention than football, which means wagers on global sporting events like Wimbledon or the Australian Open from top bookmakers see comparable action to those placed on the UEFA Champions League.
But only $6 million of Federer’s earnings came directly from his tennis game—which makes sense, given the athlete is set to retire shortly. The other $100 million came from Uniqlo, Rolex, Mercedes-Benz, and Credit Suisse Group endorsements, which are likely to follow the athlete into his retirement years.
Number Four: Neymar
Though he ranks behind both Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, football superstar Neymar seems to have the future of football on hold. As both Ronaldo and Messi head for their senior years, Neymar has a long stretch ahead of him in European football.
Unlike Federer, most of Neymar’s earnings come from his football paycheck, which earned him a total of $70.5 million. His five-year contract payout with Paris Saint-Germain will see him leave the squad in 2022 with $350 million earned in salaries.
$25 million stems from his endorsement deals with major brands like Nike’s Jordan Brand (which Neymar has been an ambassador for since 2016), DAZN, Electronic Arts (EA), Mastercard, Nike, and Red Bull. The athlete also picks up deals because of the popularity of his social media sites, which totals 244 million followers across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Number Seven: Kevin Durant
Like Neymar, LeBron James and Steph Curry both took home more than this NBA superstar in 2020. With a salary of $28.9 million and endorsements worth $35 million, Durant has learned how to transform his reputation into additional earnings.
Right now, the small forward for the Brooklyn Nets is busy revamping the troubled franchise (with a four-year, $164 million contract). However, he’s also busy investing. Rather than provide a face and name for sponsors like Nike, YouTube, and Degree, he’s also invested earnings in endeavors like Postmates and Acorns.
Given NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s embrace of cutting-edge technology like courtside VR experiences, the basketball league is likely to gain steam abroad in the coming decade. Durant’s media company, Thirty Five Ventures, already has deals with ESPN, Fox, and Showtime—which means he’s fully prepared for a future in broadcasting worldwide.
Number Eleven: Tyson Fury
Tyson Fury places ahead of the other two fighters on the list of 2020’s highest-earning athletes, Conor McGregor and rival Deontay Wilder. In 2020, Fury took home $50 million in winnings from his fights and another $7 million from his endorsements.
Oddly enough, Wilder’s place in the list (twentieth) is likely thanks to his long-running rivalry with Fury, which provides boxing fans with a talented feud worth following. In early 2020, a match between the two saw Fury take home $26 million.
To bolster his 2020 earnings, Fury hasn’t taken on major sponsors like other athletes on this list. Instead, he’s also made big-money appearances with the WWE, and even earned money from book sales of his autobiography, Behind The Mask.