The 100 Highest-Paid Athletes in 2020 – Ranked

Cristiano Ronaldo
Juventus v ACF Fiorentina – Serie A | Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

Whether it’s football, basketball or Formula 1, it’s safe to say that there’s plenty of money in sports these days.

To find out just how much, Forbes took a look at the earnings (including from both salaries and endorsements) of the world’s biggest and most successful athletes. The top 100 earners took home a combined $3.9bn over the past 12 months, which – believe it or not – is actually a 9% drop from 2019.

Here’s a breakdown of all those top 100 earners.

Earnings: €21.8m
Endorsements: $3m
Salary/Winnings: $18.8m

One of the highest earners at Real Madrid, centre-back Sergio Ramos has raked in a whopping $21.8m over the past 12 months.

It might not have been the most successful year on the pitch for Los Blancos, but it was definitely a positive spell for Ramos, who was handed his own docuseries on Amazon Prime in September 2019.

Earnings: €22m
Endorsements: $2m
Salary/Winnings: $20m

Earnings: $22.1m
Endorsements: $0.1m
Salary/Winnings: €22m

Earnings: $22.2m
Endorsements: $5.5m
Salary/Winnings: $16.7m

Earnings: $22.3m
Endorsements: $2m
Salary/Winnings: $20.3m

Earnings: $22.4m
Endorsements: $0.2m
Salary/Winnings: $22.2m

Earnings: $22.4m
Endorsements: $0.08m
Salary/Winnings: $22.3m

Earnings: $22.6m
Endorsements: $1m
Salary/Winnings: $21.6m

Earnings: $22.7m
Endorsements: $0.05m
Salary/Winnings: $22.6m

Earnings: $23m
Endorsements: $1m
Salary/Winnings: $22m

Earnings: $23.3m
Endorsements: $0.5m
Salary/Winnings: $22.8m

Earnings: $23.3m
Endorsements: $2m
Salary/Winnings: $21.25m

Earnings: $23.4m
Endorsements: $0.4m
Salary/Winnings: $22.9m

Earnings: $23.5m
Endorsements: $3m
Salary/Winnings: $20.5m

Earnings: $23.7m
Endorsements: $0.15m
Salary/Winnings: $23.5m

Earnings: $23.7m
Endorsements: $0.75m
Salary/Winnings: $22.9m

Earnings: $23.8m
Endorsements: $3m
Salary/Winnings: $20.8m

Earnings: $23.9m
Endorsements: $3m
Salary/Winnings: $20.9m

Earnings: $24.1m
Endorsements: $1m
Salary/Winnings: $23.1m

Earnings: $24.2m
Endorsements: $0.2m
Salary/Winnings: $24m

Earnings: $24.3m
Endorsements: $0.25m
Salary/Winnings: $24.1m

Earnings: $24.4m
Endorsements: $3.3m
Salary/Winnings: $21.1m

Earnings: $24.5m
Endorsements: $4m
Salary/Winnings: $20.5m

Earnings: $24.7m
Endorsements: $0.15m
Salary/Winnings: $24.5m

Earnings: $24.8m
Endorsements: $4m
Salary/Winnings: $20.8m

Earnings: $24.9m
Endorsements: $1m
Salary/Winnings: $23.9m

Earnings: $25m
Endorsements: $0.5m
Salary/Winnings: $24.5m

Earnings: $25.2m
Endorsements: $5.5m
Salary/Winnings: $19.7m

We all know about Gareth Bale’s bumper salary, which he gets for playing football, not golf.

His contract with Real Madrid can actually go up to $33m per year if the Welshman hits all his pre-agreed bonuses, but given his struggles to hold down a place in the first team under Zinedine Zidane, that might be a step too far.

Earnings: $25.4m
Endorsements: $0.75m
Salary/Winnings: $24.6m

Earnings: $25.4m
Endorsements: $1m
Salary/Winnings: $24.4m

Earnings: $25.5m
Endorsements: $0.3m
Salary/Winnings: $25.2m

Earnings: $25.6m
Endorsements: $1m
Salary/Winnings: $24.6m

Another of those with an infamously hefty contract, Alexis Sánchez’s wage of between $400,000-$500,000 per week has been split up between parent club Manchester United and loan side Inter this year.

The Chilean, who has struggled with injuries during his time in Milan, also pockets an annual bonus of $1m. Not too shabby.

Earnings: $25.7m
Endorsements: $4m
Salary/Winnings: $21.7m

Earnings: $25.7m
Endorsements: $3m
Salary/Winnings: $22.7m

After signing a contract extension in September 2019, David De Gea became the highest-paid goalkeeper around. His average annual salary of $23m-a-year has him well out in front of the competition.

It hasn’t been the easiest 12 months for Manchester United, who find themselves locked in a real battle to secure Champions League football next season.

Earnings: $26m
Endorsements: $24m
Salary/Winnings: $2m

Earnings: $26.1m
Endorsements: $0.25m
Salary/Winnings: $25.8m

Earnings: $26.5m
Endorsements: $6m
Salary/Winnings: $20.5m

Earnings: $26.5m
Endorsements: $3m
Salary/Winnings: $23.5m

Earnings: $26.6m
Endorsements: $6m
Salary/Winnings: $20.6m

Earnings: $26.7m
Endorsements: $5.5m
Salary/Winnings: $21.2m

After an eternity of drama, Antoine Griezmann sealed a switch from Atlético Madrid to Barcelona, inking a bumper five-year deal at Camp Nou.

On top of his salary, Griezmann also profits from lucrative sponsorship deals from the likes of Puma and Huawei, while he even launched his own eSports company, Grizi Esport.

Earnings: $26.7m
Endorsements: $6m
Salary/Winnings: $20.7m

Earnings: $26.8m
Endorsements: $0.25m
Salary/Winnings: $26.5m

Earnings: $27.3m
Endorsements: $20m
Salary/Winnings: $7.3m

Earnings: $27.3m
Endorsements: $0.75m
Salary/Winnings: $26.5m

Earnings: $27.5m
Endorsements: $1.7m
Salary/Winnings: $25.8m

After lifting two Premier League titles with Chelsea, Oscar landed a switch to Shanghai SIPG in 2017, where he now takes home an annual salary of $25m.

However, the 28-year-old might not be earning that kind of money annually for much longer after the Chinese Super League elected to impose a salary cap to stop teams throwing enormous wages at foreign stars.

Earnings: $27.6m
Endorsements: $3m
Salary/Winnings: $24.6m

Earnings: $27.6m
Endorsements: $26m
Salary/Winnings: $1.6m

Earnings: $27.6m
Endorsements: $3m
Salary/Winnings: $24.6m

Earnings: $27.6m
Endorsements: $3m
Salary/Winnings: $24.6m

Earnings: $28.5m
Endorsements: $5.5m
Salary/Winnings: $23m

Paul Pogba pockets a base salary of over $20m-a-year at Old Trafford, but could be picking up that money somewhere else by the time the transfer window slams shut.

Real Madrid and Juventus are supposedly both keen on the Frenchman, who remains under contract with Manchester United until 2021 (with the option for a further year).

Earnings: $28.5m
Endorsements: $1.5m
Salary/Winnings: $27m

Earnings: $28.7m
Endorsements: $5.5m
Salary/Winnings: $23.2m

Taking home close to $24m from Arsenal each year is German midfielder Mesut Özil, whose salary has long been viewed as a problem for the Gunners.

Concerns over his work rate saw Özil struggle to hold down a regular spot in the team under former boss Unai Emery, and although current manager Mikel Arteta has welcomed the German back, it’s still thought to be just a matter of time before Özil leaves.

Earnings: $29m
Endorsements: $2m
Salary/Winnings: $27m

Earnings: $29.5m
Endorsements: $5.5m
Salary/Winnings: $24m

Earnings: $29.6m
Endorsements: $3m
Salary/Winnings: $26.6m

Andrés Iniesta might not be with Barcelona anymore, but he’s still earning Barcelona money out in Japan with Vissel Kobe.

On top of his lucrative salary, Iniesta also recently penned a new sponsorship deal with Asics, ending his partnership with Nike after nearly two decades.

Earnings: $30.1m
Endorsements: $9m
Salary/Winnings: $21.1m

Earnings: $30.4m
Endorsements: $10m
Salary/Winnings: $20.4m

Earnings: $30.5m
Endorsements: $5.5m
Salary/Winnings: $25m

Earnings: $31.2m
Endorsements: $2.5m
Salary/Winnings: $28.7m

Earnings: $31.9m
Endorsements: $6m
Salary/Winnings: $25.9m

Earnings: $32.1m
Endorsements: $30m
Salary/Winnings: $1.1m

Earnings: $32.4m
Endorsements: $0.75m
Salary/Winnings: $31.6m

Earnings: $32.8m
Endorsements: $8m
Salary/Winnings: $24.8m

Earnings: $33.1m
Endorsements: $0.05m
Salary/Winnings: $33m

Earnings: $33.8m
Endorsements: $13m
Salary/Winnings: $20.8m

Kylian Mbappé’s career is still in its infancy and he’s already deservedly being paid like one of the best around. The future looks very, very bright for him.

On top of his base salary of $20m-a-year, Mbappé also took home a hefty sum from Nike after releasing his first Mercurial shoe through the brand in December 2019.

Earnings: $35m
Endorsements: $6m
Salary/Winnings: $29m

Earnings: $35.1m
Endorsements: $12m
Salary/Winnings: $23.1m

Mohamed Salah’s contract with Liverpool actually pays him a (relatively) average base salary given his superstardom, but gives him the chance to earn so much more if he reaches certain targets. Fortunately for the Egyptian, as one of the most prolific and successful forwards around, he’s triggering those bonuses.

Salah was the Reds’ top scorer in both the Premier League and Champions League last season, and leading his side to European gory will only have earned him even more money.

Earnings: $36m
Endorsements: $32m
Salary/Winnings: $4m

Earnings: $36.3m
Endorsements: $0.3m
Salary/Winnings: $36m

Earnings: $37m
Endorsements: $14.5m
Salary/Winnings: $22.5m

Earnings: $37m
Endorsements: $2m
Salary/Winnings: $35m

Earnings: $37.4m
Endorsements: $34m
Salary/Winnings: $3.4m

Earnings: $38.8m
Endorsements: $14m
Salary/Winnings: $24.8m

Earnings: $40m
Endorsements: $26m
Salary/Winnings: $14m

Earnings: $40.5m
Endorsements: $3m
Salary/Winnings: $37.5m

Earnings: $40.8m
Endorsements: $40m
Salary/Winnings: $0.8m

Earnings: $41.9m
Endorsements: $18m
Salary/Winnings: $23.9m

Earnings: $44.6m
Endorsements: $32m
Salary/Winnings: $12.6m

Earnings: $44.8m
Endorsements: $15m
Salary/Winnings: $29.8m

Earnings: $45m
Endorsements: $12m
Salary/Winnings: $33m

Earnings: $46.5m
Endorsements: $0.5m
Salary/Winnings: $46m

Earnings: $47m
Endorsements: $11m
Salary/Winnings: $36m

Earnings: $47.6m
Endorsements: $28m
Salary/Winnings: $19.6m

Earnings: $47.8m
Endorsements: $19m
Salary/Winnings: $28.8m

Earnings: $48m
Endorsements: $16m
Salary/Winnings: $32m

Earnings: $49m
Endorsements: $2m
Salary/Winnings: $47m

Earnings: $52m
Endorsements: $30m
Salary/Winnings: $22m

Earnings: $54m
Endorsements: $12m
Salary/Winnings: $42m

Earnings: $56m
Endorsements: $27m
Salary/Winnings: $29m

Earnings: $57m
Endorsements: $7m
Salary/Winnings: $50m

Earnings: $59.1m
Endorsements: $4m
Salary/Winnings: $55.1m

Earnings: $60.5m
Endorsements: $2.5m
Salary/Winnings: $58m

Earnings: $62.3m
Endorsements: $60m
Salary/Winnings: $2.3m

Earnings: $63.9m
Endorsements: $35m
Salary/Winnings: $28.9m

Earnings: $74.4m
Endorsements: $44m
Salary/Winnings: $30.4m

Earnings: $88.2m
Endorsements: $60m
Salary/Winnings: $28.2m

Earnings: $95.5m
Endorsements: $25m
Salary/Winnings: $70.5m

As the most expensive player in football history and the second-most followed athlete on social media, it should come as no surprise to see Paris Saint-Germain sensation Neymar so high up in this list.

His contract, which expires in 2022, is worth a whopping $350m in salary alone, and then his lucrative deal with Nike’s Jordan Brand has only boosted his income over the past 12 months.

Earnings: $104m
Endorsements: $32m
Salary/Winnings: $72m

Lionel Messi’s Barcelona contract can stretch as high as $80m per year, and even though the Argentine hasn’t been triggering all his available bonuses, he’s still bringing in a cool $72m annually.

The 2018/19 campaign only brought success in La Liga, although Messi and co still have hope of adding some more silverware before the 2019/20 season comes to a close.

Earnings: $105m
Endorsements: $45m
Salary/Winnings: $60m

He might not have the highest salary in football, but Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo climbs all the way up to second on this list thanks to his huge endorsement deals.

The Portugal international is the most popular athlete on social media, which makes him one of the most appealing to brands like Nike.

Juventus sold 520,000 of his shirts in just 24 hours after they confirmed the deal to sign him in the summer of 2019, which tells you all you need to know about his worth.

Earnings: $106.3m
Endorsements: $100m
Salary/Winnings: $6.3m

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