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A list of ten highest-paid athletes in the last decade has been released by Forbes. The highest-paid athletes in the past ten years were mostly footballers, boxers and golfers. The list was dominated by male athletes, with the highest-paid sportsman carting away $915 million in the decade.

How the Athletes made earnings

According to Forbes, the earnings of the athletes are a combination of endorsement deals and their wages. Apart from this, revenue stream, pay-tv views and social media; Instagram and Facebook also contributed to the revenue growth.

Christiano Ronaldo

It was disclosed that before the decade, which started in 2009, Tiger Woods was the only athlete on the planet to earn more than $80 million in a year but since 2010, the figure has increased.

Sports that dominate list

The highest-paid athletes list contains two boxers, footballers, basketballers and golfers, with only one representing Formula one. Mayweather topped the list with a massive $915 million, with Cristiano Ronaldo posting $800 million. However, Mayweather is the only Athlete that makes his earnings without depending on a sport team/club.

Although Lionel Messi is the highest-paid athletes in 2019, he took the third spot on the list behind Mayweather and Ronaldo. Forbes’ annual rankings of top-earning athletes look at salaries, prize money, bonuses, endorsements, appearance fees and licensing income.

[READ MORE: This billionaire made $39 billion in 2019, thanks to his luxury brands)

The top ten highest-paid athletes

#10 Lewis Hamilton: $400 million

The six-time F1 World Champion is the most marketable athlete in the sport and commands the biggest paycheck.

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Lionel Messi

#9 Kevin Durant: $425 million

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Durant’s annual earnings from his salary and endorsements jumped 400% during the course of the decade.

#8 Manny Pacquiao: $435 million


Pacquiao’s 25 pay-per-view fights have generated 20 million buys and an estimated $1.3 billion in revenue.

#7 Phil Mickelson: $480 million

Mickelson nabbed the biggest paycheck of his career in 2018 when he defeated his longtime rival Woods in an exhibition for a $9 million purse.

#6 Tiger Woods: $615 million


Playing Captain Tiger Woods celebrates with the cup after they defeated the International team 16-14 during the 2019 Presidents Cup.

Getty Images

Tiger averaged only 10 PGA Tour events per year during the 2010s, but his endorsement earnings for the decade were tops among athletes.

#5 Roger Federer: $640 million

Federer, 38, is on the back end of his tennis career, but his earnings will stay high on the back of a 10-year, $300 million deal with Uniqlo inked in 2018.

#4 LeBron James: $680 million

James has made more than twice as much from endorsements during his first 16 years in the NBA, compared to his $270 million in playing salary.

#3 Lionel Messi: $750 million

Messi’s 2019 playing salary for Barcelona is the highest of any athlete across all team sports.

[READ ALSO: Nigerian billionaires and what happened to them in 2019)

LeBron James

#2 Cristiano Ronaldo: $800 million

Ronaldo’s endorsement partners benefit from his massive Instagram and Facebook followings, which both rank as the biggest of any person on the planet.

#1 Floyd Mayweather: $915 million

Mayweather pocketed more than $500 million combined for his 2015 and 2017 fights versus Manny Pacquiao and Conor McGregor.

Note, Serena Williams is the only female athletes that made it to the top 40 of the highest-paid athletes in the last decade.


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