Which Sport Has the Highest Earners
Professional sports are big business. In 2021, the NFL generated $17.19 billion in revenue, most of which comes from TV deals with broadcasters. Similarly, Formula 1 generated $744 billion, a rise of almost 50% from the previous year. The bookmakers who offer bets on these sports generate large sums too, some of which are then plowed back into their marketing budgets. This is what leads to the large bet promotions that most bookies offer to new customers when they sign up and make a deposit.
But it’s not just the leagues and bookies that benefit from the size and success of professional sports. Athletes are also beneficiaries of this giant industry, directly sharing the profits by taking a sizable slice of the pie.
Many also earn even more from sponsorship and endorsement deals or by starting their own businesses and using their profile to give them a boost.
However, this wealth is not spread out equally. Athletes in some sports earn more than others. But which competitions are the biggest creators of wealth?
Three of the top five highest earners in professional sports are footballers, who each generate more than $100 million a year from their salary and endorsement deals every year.
It’s not just the players at the high end like Messi, Ronaldo, and Neymar either. Even players from lower leagues on the pyramid can earn chunky pay packets – something that isn’t replicated in almost any other sport.
Two of the top five positions when it comes to highest earners are taken by NBA stars LeBron James and Stephen Curry, with Kevin Durant a very close sixth.
It should hardly be surprising given that the term “baller”, which means to have a lot of wealth”, literally comes from the fact that basketballers are renowned for flashing the cash.
The NBA has the third-highest average player salary, with players taking a mean of $3.8 million a year.
For a sport that is pretty much only played on one continent, gridiron football (for which American football is the biggest constituent) punches well above its weight.
The NFL is the wealthiest sports league in the world, yet it puts on just a fraction of the games that its American major league counterparts do.
This wealth, naturally, works its way down to the players. Those who are freshly drafted this year are guaranteed to earn $705,000 by the end of the season, with the league average sitting at $2.7 million.