The Highest-Paid Athletes on the Planet in 2017

Athletes get paid the big bucks. This is something we all — at least we should all — know. Yet, while many see the astronomical salaries of today’s Major Leaguers and think to themselves, “Wow, that’s freaking outrageous,” we have news for you: You ain’t seen nothing yet.

According to Forbes, the 100 highest-paid athletes in the world combined to make $3.11 billion over the past year. Forbes determined this figure based on the following:

Our earnings figures include salaries, prize money and bonuses earned between June 1, 2016, and June 1, 2017. Endorsement incomes are an estimate of sponsorships, appearance fees and licensing incomes for the same 12-month period based on conversations with dozens of industry insiders. We do not deduct for taxes or agents’ fees, and we don’t include investment income (click here for a more detailed methodology and the numbers behind the top 100).

As always, some athletes earned much more than others. Here’s a look at the 15 highest-paid athletes in the world in 2017.

15. Damian Lillard

Damian Lillard plays during a game against the Suns.

Damian Lillard earns the big bucks. | Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Total earnings: $38.4 million

Damian Lillard might fail to get the same respect as many of his fellow NBA point guards, yet given his massive contract, it’s clear the Portland Trail Blazers hold him in high regard.

In the past year, the two-time All-Star took home $24.4 million in salary and bonuses. He collected another $14 million in endorsement money thanks to a diverse portfolio that includes sponsorship deals with companies like Adidas, Spalding, State Farm, Coach, and McDonald’s. With his $38.4 million in total earnings over the past 12 months, it definitely doesn’t suck being Big Game Dame.

14. Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel prepares for practice.

Ferrari has been good to Sebastian Vettel. | Clive Mason/Getty Images

Total earnings: $38.5 million

If you’re like Sebastian Vettel, a stud Formula One racer for Ferrari, it doesn’t matter that you only pull in $500,000 in endorsement money in a year. Thanks to a fat contract with a luxury car company, the driver with 45 career wins took home $38 million in salary and bonuses in the last year. This gives him $38.5 million in total earnings over the past 12 months. As we noted, it pays to be able to drive fast.

13. Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook celebrates hitting a game-winning shot.

Russell Westbrook is a superstar. | Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Total earnings: $38.6 million

When you manage to average a triple-double for an NBA entire season, you deserve to reap the rewards. OKC’s Russell Westbrook — who has style, flair, and a knack for straight beasting opponents on the court — is proof of such. The Brodie took home $26.6 million in salary and bonuses, earned another $12 million in endorsements (Nike’s Jordan Brand treats him well), and pulled in a combined $38.6 million in total earnings. It’s only a matter of time before folks start saying, “I Wanna Be Like Russ.”

12. Phil Mickelson

Phil Mickelson shoots a birdie at The Masters.

Phil Mickelson is all smiles. | Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Total earnings: $43.5 million

Phil Mickelson doesn’t earned substantial prize money — just $3.5 million over the last year — to be among the highest-paid athletes in the world. Thanks to deals with brands like Rolex, KPMG, Amgen, and ExxonMobil, Mickelson banked $40 million in endorsement money alone this past year. As you can see from his latest haul, the Lefty’s still got it.

11. Drew Brees

Drew Brees throws a touchdown.

Drew Brees is pumped up. | Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Total earnings: $45.3 million

Drew Brees is arguably the most underrated quarterback in NFL history, but it’s not as if he gets paid like it. Thanks to $31.3 million in salary and bonuses and another $14 million in endorsements (courtesy of deals with PepsiCo, Nike, and Wrangler among others), the 10-time Pro Bowler took home a cool  $45.3 million in total earnings this past year. If we were Brees, we’d pump our fists as well.

10. Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton is ready.

Mercedes loves Lewis Hamilton. | Lars Baron/Getty Images

Total earnings: $46 million

Lewis Hamilton is probably the biggest name in Formula One. The three-time world champion is repped by companies like IWC, Monster Energy, Puma, Bose, and L’Oreal, and pulled in $8 million in endorsement money last year. He won 10 F1 races in 2016, earning an impressive $38 million in salary and bonuses. Given this level of success, it’s safe to say Mercedes is happy to have Hamilton on its side.

9. James Harden

James Harden celebrates knocking down a triple.

It’s time to fear The Beard. | Harry How/Getty Images

Total earnings: $46.6 million

James Harden is a bona fide star both on and off the court. In the past year, The Beard took home $26.6 million in salary and bonuses, as well as another $20 million in endorsement coin. Considering Harden’s undeniable marketability, it’s hardly a surprise to see him sponsored by everyone from Foot Locker and Beats to BodyArmor and NBA 2K.

8. Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry reacts to a play.

Life is good for Stephen Curry. | Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Total earnings: $47.3 million

Stephen Curry has gone from an overlooked prospect out of Davidson to one of the biggest stars in the NBA. And, as such, he’s being paid like one. The Baby-Faced Assassin, and the pride and joy of Under Armour, earned $35 million in endorsements and collected another $12.3 million in salary and bonuses. You can expect the latter to increase exponentially once Steph receives that huge payday this offseason.

6. (tie) Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland celebrates making an Eagle on the seventh hole.

Everything is coming up Rory. | Warren Little/Getty Images

Total earnings: $50 million

Rory McIlroy is a major part of golf’s incredible youth movement. Not only did he earn $16 million on tour last year, the four-time major champion raked in a cool $34 million from endorsements. McIlroy clearly stays true to one of his biggest sponsors, Nike: The kid is just doing it.

6. (tie) Andrew Luck

Andrew Luck looks to make a play.

Andrew Luck is paid like a star. | Al Bello/Getty Images

Total earnings: $50 million

Andrew Luck proved his worth by signing one of the fattest contracts in NFL history. This deal with the Indianapolis Colts earned the superstar quarterback $47 million in salary and bonuses over the last year. Couple that with the $3 million he received in endorsements, and it’s safe to say the former Stanford star is putting the “Luck” in “Lucky.”

5. Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant is pumped.

Kevin Durant is finally a champion. | Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Total earnings: $60.6 million

This was a big year for Kevin Durant. The superstar took home $34 million in endorsement money, earned $26.6 million in salary and bonuses from the Golden State Warriors, and won the first title of his already illustrious career. As important as it is to be financially secure, and clearly KD’s not hurting in that department, we have a strong feeling he’s more excited about receiving that other form of priceless capital: a championship ring.

4. Roger Federer

Roger Federer celebrates a win.

Roger Federer is still going strong. | Julian Finney/Getty Images

Total earnings: $64 million

Roger Federer might not win tournaments at the same rate he once did, but make no mistake, he’s still the King of tennis. Over the last year, the 18-time grand slam champion took home $64 million in total earnings; the bulk coming from a whopping $58 million in endorsements. Game. Set. Match. Federer.

3. Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi plays soccer.

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi looks on during a match. | Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Total earnings: $80 million

Lionel Messi’s remarkable skills with the ball have allowed him to earn a boatload of money both on and off the pitch. In the last year, the Barcelona superstar netted $27 million in endorsements — half from Adidas — and another $53 million in salary and bonuses. Simply put, as a special, special player, Messi is absolutely worth the money.

2. LeBron James

LeBron James dunks the rock.

LeBron James is King. | Elsa/Getty Images

Total earnings: $86.2 million

Despite falling to the Golden State Warriors in the 2017 NBA Finals, LeBron James is still the greatest basketball on the planet. His talent on the court allowed him to become the highest-paid player in the league during the 2016–17 season. Thanks to his plethora of sponsorship deals with companies like Beats by Dre, Coca-Cola, Nike, Intel, and Kia Motor, James generated $55 million in endorsement money. It is any wonder they call him King James?

1. Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo scores a goal.

No one is as money as Cristiano Ronaldo. | Janek Skarzynski/AFP/Getty Images

Total earnings: $93 million

For the second consecutive year, Cristiano Ronaldo topped the list of highest-paid athletes. The Real Madrid footballer earned $35 million from endorsements with companies such as Nike, Tag Heuer, Herbalife, and CR7 (his own personal brand of products), and collected another $58 million in salary and bonuses. With $93 million in total earnings over the past 12 months, Ronaldo appears to be in a league of his own.

Information courtesy of Forbes.

To see Forbes’ complete list of “The World’s Highest-Paid Athletes 2017,” click here.

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