In the last decade or so, several athletes have passed the threshold into billionaire status by playing the game of capitalist strategy on and off the field. By being top performers in sports and amassing countless brand endorsements, these athletes obtained a milestone the majority of their peers will never reach. To put that kind of wealth into perspective, the average American would need to work the length of human civilization, over 21,000 years, to earn a $1 billion.
Here is a list of athletes who are billionaires according to their reported net worth. From Tiger Woods to Michael Jordan, check out these men who are as active in business as they are in the field.
1. Michael Jordan – $3 billion
Michael Jordan has been in the billionaire club since 2014, according to CBS News. Born on February 17, 1963 in Brooklyn, New York, Jordan kicked off his career on his high school’s varsity team as a sophomore. He later enrolled in the University of North Carolina, playing for their basketball team before being drafted by the Chicago Bulls in 1984.
Through his 15 NBA seasons he has earned over $94 million, but off-court he has made $2.4 billion with brand deals with corporations like Gatorade. He was the majority owner of the team Charlotte Hornets and recently sold it for $3 billion, which catapulted him into billionaire status.
2. Tiger Woods – $1.72 billion
Golf would look entirely different if not for the presence of Tiger Woods. The athlete, who entered the sport as a child prodigy, made his TV debut playing golf at age two. He has led the Forbes’ list of highest paid athletes for over a decade. Woods has earned over $1.7 billion in brand endorsements alone over the years.
The golfer is known best for his 82 PGA Tour wins, tying with Sam Snead for the most wins in history. In 1996, he signed a record-breaking $40 million Nike contract soon after he made it pro. He also won a $10 million FedEx Cup title in 2009.
3. Cristiano Ronaldo – $1.24 billion
Cristiano Ronaldo made history as Real Madrid’s all-time leading goal scorer. He has won both FIFA Player of the year and the prestigious Ball d’Or Awards five times. The star has played as a forward for Real Madrid, Juventus, and Manchester United.
Along with a prolific soccer career, Ronaldo’s brand CR7 boasts hotels, gyms, and a clothing line. He also racks up millions of dollars in brand endorsements due to his massive social media following. In 2021, the footballer became the first person in the world to have 500 million followers across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. He is still active on the field playing for Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr club, which earns him a hefty wage.
4. Magic Johnson – $1.2 billion
Magic Johnson is the newest member on the billionaire list. Johnson made $40 million from his time at the NBA before retiring in 1996. He has stakes in three sports teams, including the Los Angeles Dodgers. Johnson even has some unexpected investments, including a large stake in the life insurance company EquiTrust.
The star made his NBA debut playing for the Lakers in 1979, and he stayed with this team up until his retirement in 1991. During his time as a basketball player, he was a three-time MVP and three-time NBA Finals MVP. He quit the sport due to testing positive for HIV, soon becoming an advocate for the virus’ prevention. He returned to the sports a couple of times, however, before officially ending his playing career in 1996.
The former basketball player said that if he didn’t turn down Nike stock in favor of a $100,000 per year Converse deal, he would have reached billionaire status way sooner.
5. Lionel Messi – $1.15 billion
Lionel Messi is an Argentine legend in football, and was the second highest paid athlete in the world in 2023, right after Ronaldo. His business ventures include deals with Adidas and PepsiCo. He’s even inked a $20 million per year contract with Socios, a fan engagement app. Only ever playing for two teams, Paris Saint-Germain and now FC Barcelona, he also has a clothing line in Barcelona called Messi Store.
6. Roger Federer – $1.09 billion
Roger Federer has made some noise on the tennis court with his eventful career. He’s had 20 Grand Slam wins and won 103 ATP titles. From Switzerland, the eight-time Wimbledon winner is largely regarded as one of the greatest tennis players of all time.
Thanks to his wins, the champion has earned $130 million in prize winnings. Federer was the highest earning athlete in 2020 and holds some impressive endorsement deals, including a 10-year contract with Uniqlo for $300 million. He also has a large stake in On, a shoe company that went public back in 2021. The athlete retired in 2022 due to a knee injury.
7. Floyd Mayweather – $1.08 billion
Floyd Mayweather is perhaps best known for his feats inside a boxing ring. Starting at age 19, the boxer built a legacy with his career, being inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2021. He is a five-time weight-class champion, according to Martial Bot.
In his 20-year career, Mayweather has fought over 50 times with no losses. It’s no wonder he was paid $275 million for his televised fight with Conor McGregor. Mayweather profited off of four of the most profitable fights in boxing history due to using his own promotion company, Mayweather Promotions, which allowed him to receive compensation for the pay-per-view, gate, sponsorships, merchandise and international TV deals.
8. LeBron James – $1 billion
LeBron James is the third baller on this list, coming close after Magic Johnson. Over the years, he’s secured many lucrative deals and endorsements. Nike, for example, signed him to a seven-year $93 million deal before getting him to agree to a lifetime contract in 2015. He has also appeared in commercials for companies like Kia and Intel. James is a major investor in food company Blaze Pizza, as well, which he has done many endorsements for in order to boost the brand’s popularity. On top of all of this, James has invested in media production, bicycle brands, and sports agencies.
His success off the field is only eclipsed by his success on the field, with the Lakers star earning four championships. The athlete is the NBA’s all-time top scorer.
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