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The 5 Highest Paid Athletes in the World

According to the Forbes list of the ‘Highest-Paid Athletes in the World”, 2016, the top hundred highest earning sportsperson come from more than 20 different nations, competing in a variety of different sports. In the year 2016, they earned a total of $3.15 billion and 29 percent of this comes from appearances and endorsements.

It comes as no surprise that athletes accumulate loads of money year on year. But how do we estimate which players are getting the best salaries and deals out of them all? Well, this calculation is usually done by taking into account the salaries, bonuses, sponsorship, endorsements, personal business ventures, and a couple of other factors for each athlete. So, let’s find out who were the 5 highest paid athletes in the year 2016.

Cristiano Ronaldo

The Real Madrid star player is currently the highest paid athlete in the world. His earnings amounted to $88 million in 2016 and this comprises his salary, endorsements, and bonuses. Some of the major brands that Ronaldo is associated with include Tag Heuer, Nike, Monster headphones, and Herbalife. Besides this, the soccer player also has his personal product line including shirts, cologne, shoes, underwear as well as under-construction hotels. In Ronaldo’s case, about $32 million out of the total $88 million is endorsement money.

Ronaldo has a contract with Real Madrid that earns him over $50 million each year along with a bonus. This contract is valid through 2018 and is expected to get him more than a $100 million by next year. It was when the soccer player led the team to the prestigious Champions League title that he earned a giant seven-figure bonus.

Cristiano is also the most popular athlete in the world and has more than 200 million followers on social media. He signed a 5-year agreement with sports brand Nike in 2016. This deal offers him a staggering $13 million each year. This is the most rewarding athlete sponsorship contract to be signed in the history of soccer. A recent report indicating sponsorship values revealed that Ronaldo managed to generate $36 million on social media for Nike through his personal accounts in the past twelve months.

Lionel Messi

29-year old Lionel Messi is next on the list of the highest-paid athletes in the world. He is known for his magic and creativity on the soccer pitch and is among the top two players globally. Hence it comes as no surprise that he is also one of the highest-paid athletes in the world.

Messi has signed eight deals with Barcelona and each of them at an increasingly higher value. Currently, his contract is packed with bonuses for stunts such as bagging the Ballon d’Or.

Messi’s total earnings amounted to $81.5 million in 2016 out of which nearly $28 million was contributed by his endorsement deals (such as Adidas). But his salary plus bonuses account for a major part of his earnings ($53.4 million). Messi has been awarded the FIFA ‘Player of the Year’ five times. This definitely makes him worthy of all those bonuses!

LeBron James

NBA player, LeBron James made it to the Forbes list after he won the consecutive championships in the city of Miami. This was back in 2014. Since then, he has managed to earn “All-Star” honors not once but thrice. He led the Cavaliers out of a 3-1 series deficit thereby winning the first pro sports championship in Cleveland in more than 50 years.

His total earnings amounted to $77.2 million in 2016. Out of this, only $23.2 million was contributed by his actual salary while a startling $54 million came in from endorsements!

LBJ has also signed a unique lifetime deal with Nike and this would likely keep him on top in the endorsement for a long, long time.

Roger Federer

Even though Roger Federer is no longer seen competing in the Grand Slams very regularly, he is still the highest earning tennis players in the world. Federer has multiple sponsorship deals with big companies such as Nike, Mercedes-Benz, Credit Suisse and Rolex. This is why he got home a staggering $60 million as endorsement money last year. His salary earnings, on the other hand, amount to $7.8 million only.

Federer had an unbeatable Grand-Slam career for nearly 16 years up until May when a back problem made him withdraw from the French Open. He has accumulated $98 million as prize money playing for almost 18 years now.

Kevin Durant

Landing on the fifth spot in the ‘Highest Paid Athletes in the World’ list is another NBA player, Kevin Durant. Kevin’s total earnings amounted to $56.2 million in 2016, out of which $20.2 million was brought in as salary and bonuses. The remaining $36 million was contributed by his endorsement deals with various brands including Nike.

The sports industry was shocked when Durant decided to leave Oklahoma City and signed a new deal with the famous Golden State Warriors. He also introduced his own line of underwear in 2016 in association with Foot Locker and Neff. However, the chunk of money comes from his Nike deal which was extended back in 2014. The 28-year old soccer star’s deals are handled by his agency, Rock Nation Sports.

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