Most people get into sports at a young age because their parents enroll them in something they think they would enjoy. Be it football, soccer, baseball, karate, gymnastics or any other modern sport. The ones who are good are able to continue playing their hobby in middle and high school which is a great way to represent your school when you face off against other teams. But the luckiest and most dedicated of athletes are able to continue on after school and play their respective sport on a professional level. Here is a list of the richest athletes in the world.
The Richest Athletes in the World – 2017 List
#10 – LeBron James Net Worth: $425 million
Born December 30th, 1984, LeBron James kicks off our list at number 10. Growing up in the state of Ohio, James spent his early years with his mother who was a struggling single parent. Life was difficult as they were constantly moving around from apartment to apartment. In order to get some stability in his life, James’ mother allowed him to move in with Frank Walker, who was a youth coach and introduced James to basketball.
James would eventually attend high school where he would go on to be the star of his high school’s basketball team. He was also involved with football but basketball ended up being his calling, as James quickly became nationally famous. Appearing on several magazine covers and often times on ESPN, James reeked of stardom, so it was no surprise that he would get drafted to the NBA and eventually be chosen first by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
He spent the next seven years with the Cavaliers until he decided to sign over to the Miami Heat. He won four consecutive championships and then opted out of his contract with the Heat and went back to the Cavaliers, a move which earned him $42 million dollars. Although James wasn’t hurting for money whatsoever, as directly after high school he signed a deal to endorse Nike for $90 million dollars. Other endorsements include McDonalds, Coca-Cola and State Farm. Because of how popular and inspiring he is, James was ranked by Forbes to be one of the most influential basketball players of all time.
#9 – Magic Johnson Net Worth: $500 million
Born and raised in Michigan, Earvin “Magic” Johnson never aspired to play basketball at a professional level. His talent in the sport came natural as both his parents played at a young age. Being inspired by both his parents’ strong work ethic and his love for the game, Johnson began practicing whenever he wasn’t at school or helping his father with his job.
Johnson would go on to attend high school at a predominately white school and although they harassed him based on the color of his skin he would eventually fit in, leading his school to several championship victories.
After college he signed a 25-year, $25-million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. He would play with them for just over 10 years until his first retirement in 1991, where he would publicly announce he had tested positive for HIV. Many people praised him for his courage as HIV was a relatively mysterious disease at the time. Although his retirement wouldn’t last long as he joined the 1992 “Dream Team” of basketball players who participated that year in the summer Olympics. The team was completely unstoppable as they went on to win the gold medal. Afterwards he would retire once more.
Since his basketball career had ended, Johnson was left wondering what to do next. He would quickly get involved with business, reading all types of business magazines and speaking to several different CEOs of companies while travelling around the United States. Johnson would later invest in companies like Starbucks and eventually EquiTrust Life Insurance Company. He also became very involved with media outlets by starting his own record label and movie theater companies and for a short time he was even a minority owner of the Los Angeles Lakers.
#8 – Roger Staubach Net Worth: $600 million
Roger Staubach was born in 1942 and would wind up joining the U.S. Naval Academy in 1961. During his time in the navy, Staubach would play football as a quarterback for the Midshipmen, which is a team that consisted of men from the U.S. Navy. During his time in the navy he would go on to win games against other college football teams and quickly became noticed by teams all around the nation. When he was 27 years old he resigned from his naval position to play professional football.
Staubach would play football for the Dallas Cowboys for 11 straight years. During those years he would lead the Cowboys to five Superbowl games, winning two of them and earning the nickname ‘Captain America’ and winning a bunch of awards like Superbowl VI’s MVP and other distinguished trophies.
After his very successful 11 year football career, Staubach began thinking of how he would make money after his retirement. He knew he couldn’t support his wife and children with just the money he made from being a quarterback so he got into the real estate business. Around this time is when Texas was going through a lot of economic struggles, so it was a great time for him to purchase buildings and parking lots and begin to sell them to other clients. Staubach made the right decision by doing this, as he and his entire family will be set economically for life.
#7 – Tiger Woods Net Worth: $640 million
Tiger Woods needs no introduction as he is seen by many as one of the greatest and is by far one of the most famous golf players of all time. Born in 1975, Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods was born to play golf. He was a child prodigy by the age of two years old when he first officially began playing. Growing up, Tiger, who got that nickname from one of his father’s army friends, participated in many amateur golf tournaments where he would go on to win most of them.
Tiger had several college offers as there were many schools eager to have someone as good as he is on their team. He eventually chose to attend Stanford University under a golf scholarship and even majored in economics. His first and second year was a major success as we went on to win several events and by the time he finished school he was already professional.
After school, Tiger continued dominating in the sport of golf. He made millions of dollars from his endorsements which included General Motors, American Express and most famously, Nike Inc. He took popularity of the sport of golf to a whole new level, raking in lots of support from people all over the world. Tiger even went on to star in his own series of video games which further cemented his legacy. These days Tiger isn’t very active in golf. He had a couple of back injuries which has put a hold on his career but despite that he is still one of the richest athletes of all time.
#6 – Floyd Mayweather Net Worth: $650 million
Growing up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Floyd Mayweather Jr. was born in 1977 and is the son of professional boxing champion Floyd Mayweather Sr. Floyd Jr. grew up in a very troubled home with both his mother and his aunt being addicted to heroin. Though his childhood was far from perfect, Floyd persisted through this rough time by taking up boxing. Much like his father, Floyd was a natural in the ring. He was taught defensive techniques which prevented him from getting many scars, which earned him the nickname “Pretty Boy” by his teammates.
Floyd Jr. eventually had to drop out of high school to pursue boxing. He knew he needed money to help take care of his mother so he decided to box full time, participating in amateur matches and going on to win a bronze medal in the 1996 Olympics.
Although it wasn’t until his professional career when Floyd Jr. really began to make a serious name for himself. To date, Floyd Jr. has never lost a single match in his entire professional career, which is quite an impressive feat considering his career has lasted well over a decade. Just like his father, Floyd Jr. has gone on to win fights against some of the world’s best fighters. One of the more famous ones being in 2015 when he fought and won against Manny Pacquiano which was a fight that was built up for over five years.
#5 – Arnold Palmer Net Worth: $675 million
Credited as one of the three men to make golf a more popular sport among television watchers in the 1950s, Arnold Palmer is one of the most famous golf players in sports history. Born in 1929, Palmer began playing golf at a young age as he watched his father work as a greenskeeper at a country club, where he would routinely maintain a gold course. The sport came natural to him, as he would eventually go to college in North Carolina under a golf scholarship. He decided to leave school to join the Coast Guard, but would eventually return to college afterwards.
Palmer began receiving attention immediately after his first tour win in Canada. His fame only increased as time went on and he continued to dominate, until 1958 which cemented his status as one of the greatest golf player of all time when he won his first major tournament.
His golf career really only lasted in the 1950’s and ‘60s, but during that time he helped change the image of golf to the general audience. With his good looks and modest attitude, Palmer was able to get people to appreciate the sport and start seeing it as something more than just a game for the elite.
After his golf career was over, Palmer went on to do other activities. Mainly travelling the world and getting more countries involved with the sport, by helping design golf courses. He was also a very active pilot, logging over 20,000 hours.
#4 Vince McMahon Net Worth: $750 million
Vince McMahon was introduced to the world of wrestling at the early age of 12 when he met his father for the first time. His father, Vincent McMahon, was a promotor for a well-known wrestling corporation and Vince would often go on trips with him. As time went on Vince became more and more interested in becoming a wrestler himself although his father forbid that from happening. Vince would remain close with his father until he finally joined him by becoming an in-ring announcer for the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) after Vince finished college. He became very prominent with his father during the ‘70s and even renamed the company to the World Wrestling Federation (WWF).
Vince eventually became in power of the WWF shortly after his father passed away. It was around this time he slowly began to expand the WWF by promoting in lots of other areas around the nation. He would also incorporate music artists which would begin to draw mainstream audiences, especially when he got MTV involved with the promoting. This prompted McMahon to create the very first Wrestlemania which was hosted in Madison Square Garden and would go on to be a huge success, sparking wrestling popularity to new heights.
This was just the beginning for McMahon. As time went on, wrestling became more and more popular with Vince introducing storylines to characters which made the sport unique and more personal. Although this also meant that McMahon had to deal with the problems that came with this line of work. Vince is notorious for having public feuds with other wrestlers and public figures, an example being his feud with presidential (though not at the time) hopeful Donald Trump which was widely talked about on media outlets.
#3 – Michael Schumacher Net Worth: $800 million
Michael Schumacher is a retired professional racing driver. Born in Germany, Schumacher began his career at the age of four when his father bought him his very first pedal kart. Armed with a small engine, his kart eventually crashed, so his parents took him to a karting track. There he would spend his child and teenage years winning kart championships, with the help of local businessmen. He would continue racing karts in Germany and wound up winning several European kart championships.
After finishing school he began working as a mechanic but that wouldn’t last long as he started getting involved with single-seat car racing. He joined the Mercedes junior racing program and entered more championships. He won the Macau Grand Prix and placed in the top ten in several other races. He then went on to Formula One races in the early 1990s. Here he would earn the nickname ‘Rain King’ as he would often race very well in wet climates, which is something most drivers struggle with.
Throughout his career he would go on to win lots of other championships, often times with winning streaks that would last years. He earned the majority of his money from his sponsors, which paid him millions of dollars for representing them. He had so much money that after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake he generously donated $10 million dollars to the victims, although it was partly due to the fact that his bodyguard and two sons were tragically killed in the accident. Tragedy struck once more for Schumacher in 2013 when he was in a skiing accident which left him with a serious brain injury. He would spend 6 months in a medically induced coma. Though he is out of the hospital now, he hasn’t been able to drive since.
#2 – Michael Jordan Net Worth: $1.1 billion
Born in New York and raised in North Carolina, Michael Jordan would go on to become the greatest known basketball player of all time. His list of accomplishments is known by everyone and the only surprising thing about him is that he’s not #1 on this list.
Michael Jordan began playing for the Chicago Bulls in 1984. He quickly became popular as he was excellent at making slam dunks from the free throw line, earning him the nickname ‘Air Jordan’. He was a part of the 1992 “Dream Team” of basketball players which went on to win 8-0 in the 1992 summer Olympics, where they would take home the gold. Also in 1992 as well as in 1991 and 1993, Jordan would lead the Chicago Bulls to three straight NBA Championship wins.
In October of 1993, Jordan would retire from basketball for the first time, which absolutely shocked the world as he was in the height of his career. Just a few months prior of his decision to retire, his father tragically died in a roadside murder. That, along with the exhaustion from the Olympics, Jordan was burned out and needed something else to pursue. He would eventually decide on baseball and in February of 1994 he signed on to play with the Chicago White Sox. This didn’t last long and in March of the following year Jordan returned to playing basketball with the Chicago Bulls, where he would take the team on another three win NBA Championship streak from 1995 – 1998.
Jordan retired once more in order to pursue golf, although he returned to basketball one final time from 2001 – 2003 to play with the Washington Wizards.
Michael has gone on to win many awards throughout his career in basketball. He is also a very prominent business man, has done endorsements for Nike and Hanes and is even the principal owner of the Charlotte Hornets.
#1 – Ion Tiriac Net Worth: $2.2 billion
You’re probably asking yourself who this guy even is, and I’m here to tell you! Ion Tiriac is a business man and former professional tennis and ice hockey player. Ion was born in Transylvania in 1939 and goes by the nickname ‘Count Dracula’. He first began playing ice hockey for the Romanian national team where he would go on to participate in the 1964 winter Olympics when he was 25 years old.
Shortly afterwards he decided that ice hockey wasn’t his sport anymore and he moved on to play tennis. There he would reach the French Open and the Davis Cup further cementing his career as a great athlete, until he retired and went on to coach instead.
Tiriac would also go on to become President of the Romanian National Olympic committee. Although where his money mostly comes from are his business avenues. Since 1990 he has started up several very successful businesses in Romania, such as private banks, airlines and auto dealerships.
Bonus: Maria Sharapova Net Worth: $195 million
While she doesn’t crack the top 10, or even the top 20 of richest athletes in the world, I wanted to include a short bio of her anyway. One thing I noticed while researching this list is all of the top 30 richest athletes are men. I wanted at least one female on the list and who better than the highest paid female athlete in the world?
Born in Russia in 1987, Maria would start playing tennis at the age of four when a tennis racket was given to her by one of her father’s friends. Her and her father would often go to the park and play tennis so she could hone her skill. By the time she was six she would catch the eye of several people including her tennis coach who told her father she should attend school in Florida so she could receive professional training. There her father would take odd jobs to help pay for everything until Maria struck a deal with IMG to pay her annual tuition of $35,000.
By the time she was 14 she was playing professional tennis and would go on to achieve fame by the time she was 18. Maria continued to dominate the sport and went on to participate in the 2012 London Olympics where she won a silver medal for Russia. Nowadays she is seen as a role model for young women from all over the world.
There you have the richest athletes in the world. This is a very diverse list of people, but the one constant they all have in common is they all trained exceptionally hard from an early age.
Who is your favorite athlete? Feel free to let me know in the comments below!