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The 25 Highest-Paid Athletes Of All Time

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The NBA is flush with cash right now thanks to its $24 billion TV deal with ESPN and TNT, as well as its global opportunities. Players are sharing in the riches, with 29 current NBAers in the middle of contracts worth at least $94 million in deals that range from three years in the case of LeBron James to five years for most of the 28 others, according to data from Spotrac. The significance of $94 million: It is more than the career earnings from playing salary of the sport’s greatest player, Michael Jordan, who earned $93.8 million with the Chicago Bulls and the Washington Wizards.

But don’t shed a tear for MJ. Sure, he made more than $4 million during only two of his 15 seasons in the NBA (Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf also paid Jordan his $4 million salary during the full season he took off to play baseball). Yet Jordan elevated athlete endorsements to an entirely new level, which has continued long after he hung up his high-tops for good in 2003. The result: Jordan is the highest-paid athlete of all time at $1.85 billion in 2017 dollars (the tally is $1.5 billion in current dollars).

Jordan has partnered with dozens of brands since he turned pro in 1984, including Gatorade, Hanes, MCI, Oakley, Upper Deck, Wheaties and more. His biggest backer has always been Nike, which signed Jordan ahead of his rookie year to a five-year deal worth $2.5 million, plus royalties. The Jordan Brand exploded for Nike and is now a $3.1 billion global business with revenue up 13% over last year and $800 million from two years ago. Jordan’s estimated cut of the business is $140 million this year.

Jordan showed the path to a fortune built on endorsement earnings that has since been followed by Tiger Woods, who ranks second at $1.7 billion. Like Jordan, Woods reached the pinnacle of his sport while shying away from any controversy, making him a marketing darling for sponsors like Accenture, American Express, EA Sports, General Motors and Nike.

READ MORE: Serena Williams Heads The Highest-Paid Female Athletes 2017

Woods banked $600 million (adjusted for inflation) between 2006 and 2010, with endorsements and appearance fees fueling most of the earnings. The image of Woods as the perfect pitchman came crashing down on a Thanksgiving night eight years ago, but he remains the top draw in golf when healthy. His earnings are off 68% from their peak but still rank among the highest in golf.

Forbes‘ earnings estimates include salaries, bonuses, prize money, endorsements and licensing, as well as fees from books, golf course designs and appearances. Earnings cover from the time the athletes turned pro through June 1, 2017, and include money earned after playing careers were over, as well as earnings by the estate in the case of Arnold Palmer. We do not include investment income, and we back-filled years where we did not publish earnings figures, such as prior to 1990 for Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. We adjusted all figures for inflation.

The 25 highest-paid athletes of all time played a mix of eight sports, with golf, basketball and boxing landing five entries each. The top 25 have earned a cumulative $19.4 billion since turning pro ($15.9 billion without adjusting for inflation).

READ MORE: Ronaldo, Le Bron Top World’s Highest-Paid Athletes Of 2017

From branding it like Beckham to the Golden Bear’s Midas touch, these sports legends are so money when it comes to career earnings and endorsement deals.

The Highest-Paid Athletes of All-Time

1. Michael Jordan

Career earnings: $1.85 billion (2017 dollars)

Jordan still maintains his longtime endorsement relationships with Gatorade, Hanes, Nike and Upper Deck, but the investment that made him a billionaire was the $175 million fire-sale price he got the Charlotte Bobcats (now the Hornets) for in 2010. Jordan bumped his Hornets stake to 90% in 2013, and the team is now worth $780 million.

2. Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods during the Hero World Challenge at Albany, Bahamas in Nassau, Bahamas. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Career earnings: $1.7 billion

The 14-time major winner has played only 18 official PGA Tour events since the start of 2014 because of injuries (he’s missed the cut or withdrawn from half of them). Sponsors still see value in partnering with Woods, with TaylorMade, Bridgestone and Monster Energy the most recent additions to his endorsement portfolio.

3. Arnold Palmer

Career earnings: $1.4 billion

Palmer died in September 2016, but his estate still banked $40 million during the last 12 months. More than 400 stores sell Arnold Palmer-branded apparel in Asia, with plans to move into new markets like Thailand and Vietnam. His estate has agreements with 39 licensees. The partnership between IMG founder Mark McCormack and his first client, Palmer, revolutionized sports marketing.

4. Jack Nicklaus

Career earnings: $1.2 billion

Nicklaus’ course design company is responsible for 410 courses in 41 countries, with the 18-time major winner involved in three-quarters of the projects. In addition to course design, the Nicklaus business empire includes real estate, wine, ice cream, drinkware, golf academies, lemonade and more.

5. Michael Schumacher

Career earnings: $1 billion

The health of Schumacher, 47, has been precarious since a 2013 skiing accident in the Alps left him in a coma. The F1 titan dominated his sport while racking up seven titles and is one of only six athletes to top the FORBES highest-paid athletes list since 1990.

6. Phil Mickelson

Career earnings: $815 million

Mickelson pitches for Amgen, ExxonMobil, KPMG, Rolex, Grayhawk and the Greenbrier, as well as two new partners in Intrepid Financial Partners and Workday. His $84 million in career prize money ranks second all-time. Coming in second to Tiger has been plenty lucrative for Lefty, who finally outearned his rival in 2015, for the first time since Woods turned pro in 1996.

7. (tie) Kobe Bryant

Career earnings: $800 million

Bryant’s earnings during his playing career were tops all time among team athletes, and he had the highest NBA salary the final six seasons of his career. The Black Mamba is attacking retirement the way he did opposing guards during his 20-year NBA career. He launched Kobe Inc. and a venture capital firm, Bryant Stibel, with $100 million in funding.

7. (tie) David Beckham

Career earnings: $800 million

Beckham’s most lucrative years have come in retirement thanks to royalty deals with Diageo, to launch a new single-grain Scotch whisky called Haig Club, and Global Brands Group, to create Beckham-branded consumer products. Beckham is inching closer to bringing an MLS expansion team to Miami, which he got the rights to at the bargain-basement price of $25 million.

9. Floyd Mayweather

Floyd Mayweather Jr. v Conor McGregor

Dana White splits Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor apart during the World Press Tour at SSE Arena on July 14, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

Career earnings: $785 million

Our earnings figure for Mayweather does not include his monster payday for his August bout against Conor McGregor (our scoring period ended June 1). His McGregor paycheck makes Mayweather just the sixth athlete ever with earnings of $1 billion.

10. Shaquille O’Neal

Career earnings: $735 million

O’Neal sold a stake in the business of Shaq last year to Authentic Brands Group, which got the rights to roughly half of O’Neal’s future licensing and endorsement revenue in return for a lump sum payment. Shaq’s low-cost sneaker line has sold more than 120 million pairs during his career.

11. LeBron James

Career earnings: $730 million

The NBA’s top pitchman added Intel and Verizon this year to his endorsement portfolio, which already included Nike, Coca-Cola, Beats by Dre and Kia Motor. King James owns a stake in 17 Blaze Pizzas, the fastest-growing food-service business of all-time.

12. Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid during the La Liga match against Sevilla at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Power Sport Images/Getty Images)

Career earnings: $725 million

Ronaldo is rising up the charts as the highest-paid athlete in the world the past two years, including $93 million in the 12 months ending in June. His Real Madrid contract extension will push the earnings for soccer’s reigning player of the year even higher.

13. Greg Norman

Career earnings: $705 million

Like Shaquille O’Neal and Muhammad Ali before him, Norman sold his future licensing rights to Authentic Brands Group in March. Norman’s company retains control of his real estate, investments and course design operations, but ABG will work on his other business interests in apparel, accessories, steak and wine.

14. Mike Tyson

Career earnings: $700 million

The youngest heavyweight champion in the history of boxing squandered $400 million in earnings (not adjusted for inflation) before filing for bankruptcy in 2003. Tyson has reinvented himself at 51 as an actor and with business partnerships around gaming, motorcycles and fitness centers.

15. Roger Federer

Roger Federer

Roger Federer of Switzerland celebrates after beating Marin Cilic of Croatia during the ATP World Tour Finals at The O2 Arena, London. (Photo by Kieran Galvin/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Career earnings: $675 million

Federer recently re-took the crown for highest career prize money on the ATP Tour with his resurgent year on the court in 2017. His $111.9 million tally surpasses the total of Novak Djokovic ($109.8 million), as well as that of Tiger Woods, who sits at $110 million in prize money on the PGA Tour.

16. Lionel Messi

Career earnings: $600 million

Messi has been at Barcelona since age 13, and his contract extension last month will keep him at Camp Nou through the 2020-21 season. The buyout clause for Barcelona’s all-time leading scorer doubled under the new deal to $835 million.

17. Alex Rodriguez

Career earnings: $575 million

A-Rod signed two of the three biggest contracts in the history of baseball during his 22-year career and was paid $20 million by the Yankees in 2017 despite retiring last year. He has been busy in retirement as a Fox Sports analyst and a host for an upcoming CNBC reality show, in addition to his high-profile relationship with Jennifer Lopez.

18. Jeff Gordon

Career earnings: $525 million

Gordon won 93 races during his Nascar career, the modern-day record. He owns a stake in Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 car and could be in line for a larger ownership role at Hendrick Motorsports.

19. Oscar De La Hoya

Career earnings: $520 million

The Golden Boy’s 2007 fight with Floyd Mayweather was the biggest bout in pay-per-view history, with 2.5 million buys, until Mayweather faced Manny Pacquiao. De La Hoya earned a then-record $52 million because he served as the fight’s promoter through his company Golden Boy Promotions, which he founded in 2002.

20. Manny Pacquiao

Career earnings: $510 million

Pacquiao’s pay-per-view career includes 18.6 million buys and gross revenue of $1.2 billion. The Filipino senator lost to Australian Jeff Horn in his only 2017 bout. Pacquiao’s biggest career payday was his 2015 fight with Mayweather, for which he pocketed roughly $125 million.

21. Derek Jeter

Career earnings: $490 million

Jeter’s tenure as an MLB owner is off to a rocky start in South Florida. The 14-time All-Star put up only $25 million of the $1.2 billion price for the Miami Marlins, but Jeter is calling the shots as CEO of the team.

22. (tie) Peyton Manning

Career earnings: $480 million

The five-time MVP retired as the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yards (71,490) and touchdowns (539) and was the NFL record-holder for earnings on and off the field. Manning remains a popular pitchman in retirement, shilling for Nationwide, DirecTV, Gatorade, Papa John’s and Otterbox. He also hosted the 2017 ESPYs.

22. (tie) Kevin Garnett

Career earnings: $480 million

Garnett earned an NBA-record $334 million in playing salary during his 22-year playing career with the Timberwolves, the Celtics and the Nets. His blockbuster six-year, $126 million contract as a 21-year-old in 1997 helped push NBA owners to lock out the players ahead of the 1998-99 season.

24. Evander Holyfield

Career earnings: $475 million

Holyfield’s career-high payday was $34 million, for his second fight versus Mike Tyson, which ended abruptly when Tyson was disqualified for biting off a chunk of Holyfield’s ear. Despite a quarter-century of boxing purses, Holyfield faced major financial issues with a foreclosure of his $10 million, 109-room Atlanta estate and lawsuits for unpaid child support.

25. Andre Agassi

Career earnings: $470 million

Agassi’s massive Nike endorsement deal earned him $140 million over 10 years, including the appreciation of the company stock he received in the pact.

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The World’s 100 Highest-Paid Celebrities

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The pop singer Taylor Swift lands the number 1 spot on the Forbes 2019 Celebrity 100 list, her highest earnings year yet.


RankNameAgeEarningsCategory
#1Taylor Swift29$185 MMusicians
#2Kylie Jenner21$170 MPersonalities
#3Kanye West42$150 MMusicians
#4Lionel Messi32$127 MAthletes
#5Ed Sheeran28$110 MMusicians
#6Cristiano Ronaldo34$109 MAthletes
#7Neymar27$105 MAthletes
#8The Eagles$100 MMusicians
#9Dr. Phil McGraw68$95 MPersonalities
#10Canelo Alvarez28$94 MAthletes
#11Roger Federer37$93.4 MAthletes
#12Howard Stern65$93 MPersonalities
#13J.K. Rowling53$92 MAuthors
#14Russell Wilson30$89.5 MAthletes
#15Dwayne Johnson47$89.4 MActors
#16Aaron Rodgers35$89.3 MAthletes
#17LeBron James34$89 MAthletes
#18Rush Limbaugh68$87 MPersonalities
#19Elton John72$84 MMusicians
#20Jay-Z49$81 MMusicians
#20Beyoncé Knowles37$81 MMusicians
#22Ellen DeGeneres61$80.5 MPersonalities
#23Stephen Curry31$79.8 MAthletes
#24Chris Hemsworth$76.4 MActors
#25Drake32$75 MMusicians
#26Kim Kardashian West38$72 MPersonalities
#27Ryan Seacrest44$71.5 MPersonalities
#28Sean Combs49$70 MMusicians
#28James Patterson72$70 MAuthors
#30Metallica$68.5 MMusicians
#31Robert Downey Jr.54$66 MActors
#32Kevin Durant30$65.4 MAthletes
#33Akshay Kumar51$65 MActors
#34Tiger Woods43$63.9 MAthletes
#35Gordon Ramsay52$63 MPersonalities
#36Rihanna31$62 MMusicians
#37David Copperfield62$60 MMagicians
#38Kevin Hart40$59 MComedians
#39Jackie Chan65$58 MActors
#39Travis Scott28$58 MMusicians
#41Katy Perry34$57.5 MMusicians
#41Justin Timberlake38$57.5 MMusicians
#43BTS$57 MMusicians
#43Bradley Cooper44$57 MActors
#43Pink39$57 MMusicians
#43Adam Sandler52$57 MActors
#47Scarlett Johansson34$56 MActresses
#48Ben Roethlisberger37$55.5 MAthletes
#49Lewis Hamilton34$55 MAthletes
#49Anthony Joshua$55 MAthletes
#49Khalil Mack28$55 MAthletes
#52Russell Westbrook30$53.7 MAthletes
#53Billy Joel70$52 MMusicians
#54Bruno Mars33$51.5 MMusicians
#55Novak Djokovic32$50.6 MAthletes
#55Mike Trout27$50.6 MAthletes
#57Jimmy Buffett72$50 MMusicians
#57Eminem46$50 MMusicians
#59Fleetwood Mac$49 MMusicians
#59Judy Sheindlin76$49 MPersonalities
#61Phil Mickelson49$48.4 MAthletes
#62Ariana Grande26$48 MMusicians
#62Paul McCartney77$48 MMusicians
#64James Harden29$47.7 MAthletes
#65Conor McGregor30$47 MAthletes
#66DeMarcus Lawrence27$46.9 MAthletes
#67Sean Hannity57$46 MPersonalities
#67The Chainsmokers$46 MMusicians
#69Steve Harvey62$45 MPersonalities
#70Bryce Harper26$44.5 MAthletes
#71Guns N’ Roses$44 MMusicians
#72Chris Paul34$43.8 MAthletes
#73Chris Evans$43.5 MActors
#74Kyrie Irving27$43.3 MAthletes
#75Giannis Antetokounmpo24$43.2 MAthletes
#76Jennifer Lopez49$43 MMusicians
#76Sofía Vergara47$43 MTelevision actresses
#78Luke Bryan42$42.5 MMusicians
#79Drew Brees40$42.4 MAthletes
#80Simon Cowell59$42 MPersonalities
#81Aaron Donald28$41.4 MAthletes
#82Damian Lillard28$41.1 MAthletes
#83Paul Rudd$41 MActors
#83Jerry Seinfeld65$41 MComedians
#83Rolling Stones$41 MMusicians
#86Sebastian Vettel32$40.3 MAthletes
#87DJ Khaled43$40 MMusicians
#87Marshmello27$40 MMusicians
#87The Weeknd29$40 MMusicians
#90Lady Gaga33$39.5 MMusicians
#91Blake Griffin30$39.1 MAthletes
#92Dave Matthews Band$39 MMusicians
#92Rory McIlroy30$39 MAthletes
#94Paul George29$38.6 MAthletes
#95Zac Brown Band$38.5 MMusicians
#95Calvin Harris35$38.5 MMusicians
#95Kendrick Lamar$38.5 MMusicians
#98Brandin Cooks25$38 MAthletes
#98Shawn Mendes20$38 MMusicians
#100Celine Dion51$37.5 MMusicians

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Hip-Hop’s Next Billionaires: Richest Rappers 2019

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Back in 2007, Jay-Z made a bold statement in song about both his lyrical prowess and his future financial fortunes: “I’m already the G.O.A.T.–next stop is the billie.”

Sure enough, Forbes declared him hip-hop’s first billionaire earlier this month. The news caught the attention of observers around the world—not only due to the breadth of Jay-Z’s financial achievement, but because of what it means for others looking to follow in his footsteps.

“Jay-Z’s entire life is the real blueprint,” says hip-hop pioneer Fab 5 Freddy, longtime host of the show Yo! MTV Raps. “He’s one of the best examples in our lifetime of one who’s truly achieved the American dream and billionaire status.”

Naturally, Jay-Z tops this year’s ranking of hip-hop’s richest stars. Who will be the next billionaire from the rap world? The answer is almost certainly one of the names below.

richest rappers Drake
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5. Drake

$150 million

The 32-year-old Canadian is the youngest on this list by a decade, but he’s quickly gaining ground on hip-hop’s elder statesmen. Drake’s fortune grew 50% over the past year, boosted by holdings ranging from real estate to his Virginia Black whiskey, as well as a lucrative tour and new residency at the XS Nightclub in Las Vegas.

“Every year, we just want to get more prepared and better at touring and better at things that make money,” he told Forbes in 2013 (his average gross has since surged from $500,000 to more than $2 million per stop). “That’s pretty much my objective every year, other than making good music.”

richest rappers Kanye
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4. Kanye West

$240 million

A onetime protégé of Jay-Z, the superproducer has been making headlines recently for his Sunday Service, an invitation-only get-together mostly in Southern California that is reportedly frequented by the likes of Courtney Love and Tyler, the Creator. He took the show on the road in April for a Coachella service on Easter Sunday featuring appearances by Chance the Rapper, DMX and a gospel choir—while hawking socks and “holy spirit” sweatshirts. But selling church clothes alone won’t be enough to push West into ten-figure territory.

Despite declaring himself $53 million in debt and beseeching Mark Zuckerberg for $1 billion to fund future creations in 2016, West makes his debut on this list thanks to a another patron: Adidas, which lured West and his Yeezy shoe line from Nike several years ago. Our accounting of West’s wealth is almost entirely predicated on a conservative estimate of that brand’s value. As it continues to scale up, he could one day join his sister-in-law, Kylie Jenner, as a billionaire.

richest rappers Diddy
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3. Diddy

$740 million

“I started my business career at age 12, delivering newspapers,” Diddy explained two years ago in our centennial issue, where we named him one of the world’s greatest living business minds. “Since then, I’ve always understood that if I give the customers my best and service them differently, whether music, clothing or vodka, I’ll get a return on my hard work.”

The artist formerly known as Puff Daddy dips to No. 3 on this list as industry trends weigh on some of his holdings, including cable network Revolt and clothing line Sean John (though Diddy has sold much of his stake in the latter, he retains a sizeable piece). But Ciroc, the main driver of his fortune, is growing again after case volumes fell from all-time highs in recent years—making the impresario perhaps the most likely candidate to join Jay-Z in the billion-dollar club.

richest rappers dr dre
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2. Dr. Dre

$800 million

It’s been five years since Dr. Dre proclaimed himself a billionaire, but Forbes still doesn’t agree with the assessment made in the wake of Apple’s $3 billion 2014 purchase of his Beats By Dr. Dre headphone line. The superproducer owned an estimated 20%-25% of the company at the time; of the $2.6 billion Apple paid upfront in cash, another $295 million was earmarked to cover debt payments, leaving Dre with a little over $500 million.

Even with the vesting of his final slug of Apple stock last summer, Dre hasn’t quite made it into billionaire territory. He has spent heavily over the years on property (he paid $40 million for Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen’s Los Angeles estate) and charitable donations (along with Beats cofounder Jimmy Iovine, he gave $70 million to start a school at USC). And with his formal involvement at Apple seemingly wrapping up, Dre will likely need to get back on the festival circuit—or start a new company—if he’s to make good on his 2014 declaration.

richest rappers jay-z
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1. Jay-Z

$1 billion

Though he’s hip-hop’s first billionaire, Jay-Z’s lead on the rest of the pack is even larger if his entire family fortune is taken into consideration: He and wife Beyoncé are now worth a combined $1.4 billion. So much for the notion that music is a dying business.

“To convince artists that you can’t be an artist and make money … was the greatest trick in music that people ever pulled off,” Jay-Z told Forbes in 2010. “I think the people that were making the millions said that.”

Methodology

In order to compile our ranking of the richest rappers, we use the same procedures employed in the calculation of our annual billionaires list: poring over financial documents, valuing major assets, and consulting with analysts, managers, attorneys and other industry insiders.

Cover photographs: Getty Images (Dr. Dre: AP Images)

-Zack O’Malley Greenburg; Forbes Staff

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World’s Highest-Paid Athletes 2019: What Messi, LeBron And Tiger Make

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Major League Baseball had a staggering run this year when, over a four-week period, a quartet of its biggest stars—Nolan Arenado, Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and Mike Trout—signed blockbuster, long-term deals worth a combined $1.3 billion. They ranked as four of the biggest playing contracts in the history of sports.

The deals will create generational wealth for their families, but only Trout, ranked 17th with $50.6 million, cracks the top 20 of the world’s highest-paid athletes.

The difference: Those four baseball stars generate barely $10 million in combined endorsement income while the top earners in basketball, soccer, tennis and golf all individually bank at least $30 million from sponsors annually; eight of the 11 best-paid athletes come from those four sports.

READ MORE | Lionel Messi Claims Top Spot on Forbes’ 2019 List Of The World’s 100 Highest-Paid Athletes

Most of the athletes ranked above Trout follow a similar path: Reach the highest levels of a global sport, and marketers swarm with endorsement deals to pitch their wares around the world.

Barcelona soccer legend Lionel Messi leads the way on this year’s list with $127 million, including $35 million off the pitch from partners Adidas, MasterCard, PepsiCo and more. Messi translates into every language.

Messi is only the fourth athlete to land in the No. 1 spot over the past 19 years, joining Tiger Woods (12 times), Floyd Mayweather (4) and Cristiano Ronaldo (2).

Messi succeeds Mayweather, who failed to get in the ring for a pro bout over the past 12 months but is likely still counting last year’s $285 million haul, which he earned largely from his 2017 bout against UFC star Conor McGregor.


READ MORE | The World’s Highest-Paid Athletes


Messi is joined by fellow global soccer icons Cristiano Ronaldo ($109 million) and Neymar ($105 million) at the top this year. It is the first time that soccer players have ranked as the top three earners in sports since Forbes began tracking athlete earnings in 1990.

Elite stars in other global sports are also extremely marketable on any continent. Roger Federer ranks fifth with $93.4 million, including $86 million off the court.

Federer will turn 38 in August and is a dinosaur in tennis years. Yet Japanese apparel brand Uniqlo signed the 20-time Grand Slam winner in 2018 to a 10-year contract worth $300 million. Federer has a dozen sponsors looking to tap the cash-rich tennis fan demographic.

Basketball’s leading trio of LeBron James ($89 million), Stephen Curry ($79.8 million) and Kevin Durant ($65.4 million) rank seventh through ninth, having earned a combined $130 million beyond their respective playing salaries.

READ MORE | The NBA’s Highest-Paid Players 2019: LeBron James Leads With $89 Million

Their shoe deals, with Nike (James, Durant) and Under Armour (Curry), are by far the biggest endorsement for each player and dwarf what an MLB player can earn pitching baseball cleats and gear.

Sportswear brands, including Adidas, have used NBA stars in China for more than a decade to help establish a foothold in the world’s biggest market, sending big names like James and Durant there every summer on promotional tours. The NBA estimates 640 million people in China watched some kind of NBA programming during the 2017-18 season—that’s nearly twice the population of the U.S.

Golf is another sport that reaches almost every corner of the globe, and no golfer has benefited more than Tiger Woods: He has made $1.4 billion during his career from endorsements and appearance fees, more than 10 times his prize money, and his net worth is a staggering $800 million. Woods ranks 11th on this year’s athletes list with earnings of $63.9 million, including $54 million off the course.

Tiger roared back over the past 12 months with his first win in five years (Tour Championship) and his first major title in 11 years (The Masters). Last year, he signed an exclusive multi-year global content partnership with Discovery’s GolfTV. Head-to-head matches are part of the deal, and most will take place outside the U.S.

The 100 highest-paid athletes earned a combined $4 billion over the past 12 months, up 5% over the previous year. The increase jumps to 16% if you strip out the one-time stimulus of the 2017 Mayweather-McGregor fight. Endorsements fueled much of the gains, with sponsor-driven income at $987 million, up 12% from the previous year.

Overall, athletes from 10 sports and 25 countries made the top 100. Basketball (35 athletes) is the most dominant sport, and Americans (62) are the most dominant nationality.

READ MORE | Inside Serena Williams’ Plan To Ace Venture Investing

Tennis ace Serena Williams ranked 63rd with $29.2 million, including $25 million off the court. She is the only woman to crack the top 100 for the second time in three years. 

No female athletes qualified last year, when Williams was just returning to tennis after a 12-month layoff for her pregnancy and the birth of her daughter, Olympia. Williams is lining up her next act with a new clothing line and a venture capital fundfocused on investing in female and minority founders.

Our earnings include prize money, salaries and bonuses earned between June 1, 2018, and June 1, 2019. Endorsement incomes are an estimate of sponsorships, appearance fees and licensing incomes for the same 12-month period (click here for a more detailed methodology and the numbers behind the top 100).

-Kurt Badenhausen; Forbes Staff

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