The 40 Richest Athletes of All Time

The wealth doesn't always come from player contracts and prizes, believe it or not.
IMAGE SHUTTERSTOCK

Dominating the competition leads to recognition, titles, and money... lots of money. But how much do the world's most renowned athletes really have in the bank? We took a deep dive into the career salaries and high-profile endorsement deals of some of the most successful players of all time to determine who has the biggest net worth.

John Elway with $145 million

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Elway rose to fame as the quarterback for the Denver Broncos in the '80s and '90s — securing two Super Bowl victories for the franchise along the way. After retirement, Elway branched out from the NFL, investing in restaurants and car dealerships, before returning to his former team to serve as General Manager. All of the above resulted in Elway having an estimated net worth of around $145 million, reports Sports Casting.

Derek Jeter with $200 million

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One of baseball's most lucrative deals was signed by Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter in 2001. His contract was worth $189 million for a ten-year commitment. This paycheck, even after taxes, coupled with Jeter's endorsements with companies like Nike, Gatorade, and Movada, bring the former MLB star's net worth to an estimated $200 million, Celebrity Net Worth reports.

John Madden with $200 million

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Madden has served as a Hall of Fame-recognized football coach and NFL broadcaster throughout his career, but it was his participation in EA's Madden NFL video game in 1989 that skyrocketed his net worth to $200 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. As a critical component to EA's products, Madden earns a percentage of all games sold, and collected a payout for $150 million in 2005 for the use of his name.

Rafael Nadal with $200 million

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Nadal is one of the highest paid male singles tennis players in the world. The Spanish athlete has won $110 million in prize money since 2001, according to Forbes. The tennis star won his 18th Grand Slam title in June 2019, when he won the French Open. He has an estimated net worth of $200 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

Steve Young with $200 million

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The former NFL quarterback had a 15-year career on the San Francisco 49ers, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Los Angeles Express. He retired in 1999, and has gone on to become an investor and sports commentator. Young is worth $200 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

David Robinson with $200 million

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Even though Robinson is considered one of the most successful centers in NBA history (he was a 10-time NBA All-Star), after his retirement is when he really started raking in the money. He founded two private equity funds, with Celebrity Net Worth estimating his worth at $200 million.

Hakeem Olajuwon with $200 million

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The Nigerian-American professional basketball player retired in 2002 after 18 years of pro ball. In 2008, he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, and he's currently worth around $200 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

Jeff Gordon with $200 million

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The former pro driver raced his way to a hefty fortune, bringing in a net worth of $200 million, Celebrity Net Worth reported. Gordon, who some consider to be one of the best drivers in the sport, won four NASCAR Cup Series and three Daytona 500 races.

Dave Whelan with $210 million

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The former English footballer has accumulated a net worth of around $210 million (according to Celebrity Net Worth). After playing for the Blackburn Rovers F.C. and the Crewe Alexandra F.C., Whelan invested in several retail and supermarket chains, expanding them into some of the top businesses in the UK. He also bought the then-Division Three club, Wigan Athletic F.C. (as well as the stadium the club plays in), and turned it into a Premier League team.

Novak Djokovic with $220 million

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The Serbian-born tennis player has an estimated net worth of $220 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. This approximation is a combination of his estimated 2018 salary of $23.5 million, over $129 million in prize money from tournaments, and his lucrative endorsement deals with Lacoste, Uniqlo, Head, and Seiko.

Manny Pacquiao with $220 million

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The Filipino boxer and politician is one of the most successful fighters of his generation, raking in an estimated total of $448 million in career earnings. His biggest pay day for a fight was in 2015 against Floyd Mayweather, for which he earned around $125 million. According to Celebrity Net Worth, he currently has a net worth of $220 million.

Peyton Manning with $250 million

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Manning built a successful career with the Indianapolis Colts, but for his final stretch in the NFL he signed a five-year contract for $96 million with the Denver Broncos. All of this, plus his high-profile endorsements with the likes of Papa John's, Buick, and State Farm, brings his net worth up to around $200 million, according to Anthon Sports.

Wayne Gretzky with $250 million

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Gretzky is one of the most respected and well-known names in hockey. After retirement, "The Great One" founded the Wayne Gretzky Foundation, served as coach of the Phoenix Coyotes, and became Vice Chairman at the Oilers Entertainment Group. All of which helped him accumulate a net worth of around $250 million, according to Yahoo.

Grant Hill with $250 million

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Hill played for the NBA on teams like the L.A. Clippers, the Orlando Magic, the Phoenix Suns, and the Detroit Pistons. During his professional career, he earned about $140 million from his salary, as well as endorsements of up to $120 million. Separately, the athlete signed a contract of $80 million with the shoe company, FILA, followed by a lifetime deal of $10 million per year, making his net worth an estimated $250 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

Gary Player with $250 million

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Player, a South African professional golfer, won a total of nine major championships throughout his career. At 85 years old, the former PGA star has brought in an estimated total net worth of nearly $250 million (according to Wealthy Gorilla) from tournaments and endorsement deals.

George Foreman with $300 million

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You've definitely heard of him, either for his titled boxing career, Olympic gold medals, or his now widely popular George Foreman Grill. The latter is part of the reason Foreman has raked in a net worth estimated at $300 million, according to Money Inc.

Alex Rodriguez with $350 million

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A-Rod ended a successful 22-year career with the MLB in 2016, after signing two historic contracts, including a 10-year deal for $275 million with the New York Yankees. Paired with endorsements and his post-retirement gig as an analyst on ESPN and Fox Sports, Rodriguez has an estimated net worth of $350 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

Jack Nicklaus with $400 million

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One of the greatest golfers in history, Nicklaus didn't slow down after he retired from the sport in 2005. He founded Nicklaus Companies LLC, which invests in everything from golf courses to ice cream products. As a result, he's worth an estimated $400 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

Greg Norman with $400 million

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After a successful career as a professional golfer, Norman has a net worth of $400 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. The Australian golfer retired in 2001 with a total of career earnings of $705 million and has since founded the Greg Norman Company, which invests in various consumer companies.

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson with $400 million

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Today, when you mention "The Rock," it usually has to do with one of the former athlete's movies, like Fast and the Furious or Jumanji. But Johnson's career as a college football star and professional WWE wrestler are just as significant and a huge reason why he's now worth an estimated $400 million, Celebrity Net Worth.

Phil Mickelson with $400 million

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Throughout his career, Mickelson raked in 45 PGA wins and won five major championships. All of this seemed to have paid off, as Mickelson is worth an estimated $400 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth, which includes his $90 million in career winnings and copious endorsements with companies like Rolex and Amgen.

Lionel Messi with $400 million

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Messi is arguably one of the greatest soccer players ever. The star is also one of the highest paid athletes and earned $127 million in 2019. This, plus many endorsements, brings him to a net worth of approximately $400 million, according to The Street.

Shaquille O'Neal with $400 million

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While playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, O'Neal became one of the biggest names in sports, earning all kinds of endorsements. After retiring, O'Neal continued to remain in the public eye, hosting talk shows and endorsing brands like Papa John's, which brings his net worth to an estimated $400 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

Vinnie Johnson with $400 million

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While playing for the Detroit Pistons, Johnson, known as "The Microwave," helped the team win two championships. His career legacy landed him a job as Chairman and CEO at the Piston Group, which is now one of the largest automobile supply companies in the country. As a result, his net worth is an estimated $400 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. with $400 million

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Not only is Earnhardt beloved in the NASCAR world, but he is one of the most mainstream drivers out there. Before he retired in 2017, Earnhardt was earning over $450 million from salary and endorsement deals with companies like Chevrolet and Goodyear. Today, the former racing star owns his own team and is estimated to have a net worth of $400 million, according to Money Inc.

Roger Federer with $450 million

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At the age of 40, Federer is one of the oldest male tennis players on the tournament route, but that doesn't stop him from still dominating (he was the runner up at Wimbledon in 2019). Throughout his career, the Swiss tennis player has not only amassed a great deal of career earnings, but has signed endorsement deals with brands like Rolex and Mercedes-Benz —bringing his net worth total to around $450 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

David Beckham with $450 million

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The English soccer player proved himself to be one of the greatest athletes of all time during his career on teams like Manchester United. Years after retiring in 2013, the former footballer has closely managed his brand and positioned himself to earn endorsement deals from some of the highest paying companies. Celebrity Net Worth reports that his net worth is around $450 million.

Floyd Mayweather with $450 million

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The champion boxer has never lost a fight in his career. And on top of his massive success, Mayweather came out of retirement in 2017 to beat Conor McGregor in a fight that earned him $275 million—tallying his net worth to a whopping $450 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

Cristiano Ronaldo with $500 million

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Ronaldo has been dubbed one of the best soccer players of all time. His salary of $65 million in 2019, as well as his extremely lucrative endorsement deals, means the Portuguese soccer player has an estimated net worth of $500 million (according to Celebrity Net Worth).

LeBron James with $500 million

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The NBA star is one of the biggest names in basketball and rings in some of the highest-paying endorsement deals. In 2018, he signed a $153 million contract with the Lakers, and an equally large deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers a few years prior, resulting in a net worth of approximately $500 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

Tom Brady with $580 million

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Tom Brady is one of the most successful quarterbacks in NFL history and, when combined with super model wife Gisele Bündchen's income, the pair is worth an estimated net worth of $580 million, according to Business Insider.

Eddie Jordan with $600 million

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The former Irish race car driver took his passion and turned it into one of the most lucrative careers possible. How? He's the founder and owner of the Jordan Grand Prix, which was a Formula One race team, and he's the lead analyst on BBC's Grand Prix coverage. Today, Celebrity Net Worth estimates he's worth $600 million.

Junior Bridgeman with $600 million

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The former professional basketball player was in the NBA for 12 years. But it wasn't his hoops career that earned him an estimated net worth of $600 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. It was his fast food entrepreneurship—he owns approximately 160 Wendy's and 118 Chili's restaurants.

Magic Johnson with $600 million

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As a five-time NBA champion and three-time MVP, Earvin "Magic" Johnson remains one of the great basketball stars of all time, even after his retirement in 1996. But the athlete's $600 million net worth (according to Celebrity Net Worth) wasn't made solely on the court—Johnson founded Magic Johnson Enterprises and is co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Roger Staubach with $600 million

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The Heisman Trophy winner enjoyed a successful career as the Dallas Cowboys quarterback, and led the team to two Super Bowl victories. But it's his career moves off the field with Staubach Company, which he founded, that lead to his net worth total of around $600 million, according to Wealthy Gorilla. In 2008, the former QB sold his company for $640 million.

Michael Schumacher with $600 million

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Schumacher is one of the most successful Formula One drivers in the world, with his career spanning from 1991 to 2006. The driver has accumulated a net worth of around $600 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

Tiger Woods with $800 million

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Woods was consistently the highest paid athlete throughout the 2000s as he dominated tournaments and raked in endorsement deals. Although his 2009 scandal and messy divorce hurt some of his endorsements, the golfer still has a net worth of $800 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. In 2019, the pro struck a comeback, winning his first major tournament in 11 years.

Ion Tiriac with $1.6 billion

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Not only does Ion Tiriac have a net worth of $1.6 billion, according to Forbes (thanks largely to his businesses, Banca Tiriac and Tiriac Holdings), but the Romanian born-athlete was both an Olympic ice hockey player and a Hall of Fame tennis player.

Michael Jordan with $1.6 billion

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Jordan is worth about $1.6 billion, according to Forbes. From his legacy at the University of North Carolina to his titled career with the Chicago Bulls, the basketball star earned plenty for his performance on the court. But it was his ties to Nike and ownership of the Charlotte Hornets that pushed him into the billionaire stratosphere.

Vince McMahon with $1.9 billion

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McMahon started his career as a professional wrestler, but his $1.9 billion net worth, according to Forbes, is mostly due to his job as the majority owner, chairman, and CEO of WWE.

From: Men's Health US

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