Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo

Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo. Photos: AFP/Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV/FAYEZ NURELDINE

The top ten highest-paid athletes in 2023

Find out who topped the log when it comes to the top ten highest-paid athletes across the year 2023.

Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo

Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo. Photos: AFP/Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV/FAYEZ NURELDINE

The top ten sports stars when it comes to earnings worldwide in 2023 includes GOATS, greats and franchise players.

The highest-paid athletes in 2023

Here we look at who the top ten highest-paid athletes are in 2023.

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10 Neymar

Neymar has made shock moves on and off the pitch including his 2020 move from Nike to Puma.

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His move to Al Hilal in Saudi Arabia is set to bag him as much as $160 million in just one season.

Neymar is under an ongoing legal cloud over allegations he exploited an undocumented migrant cleaner.

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9 Kevin Durant

Although Durant was moved by the Brooklyn Nets to the Phoenix Suns in February, there has been as much action off the court fopr the basketball great. He has acquired stakes in the Premier Lacrosse League, Happy Viking nutrition brand, League One Volleyball, Athletes Unlimited women’s sports league network, a Major League Pickleball team, Fanatics’ Mitchell & Ness label, Goldenset Collective, a digital creator company, sports software startup ScorePlay, and Tiger Woods’ TMRW Sports through his investing firm, 35V. 

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Along with one of the NBA’s most lucrative footwear deals—a contract that was just extended to a lifetime—he now owns a burgeoning media empire through Boardroom. Only two other NBA players, LeBron James and Michael Jordan, have received lifetime Nike deals.

8 Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry is well-paid as a player but some would suggest that he hasn’t, maximised his commercial potential.

Curry topped $100 million in earnings over the last year with a little over half of it coming from his sponsors.

Curry and Neymar were both caught up in legal proceedings over the Ape Yacht Club NFT market scandal.

7 Phil Mickelson

Mickelson’s earnings this year are something of a grey area with the exact details of his deal with LIV Golf still under wraps.

Mickelson could have made as much as $200 million this year or as little as $50 million.

His net worth is now estimated to be $400 million as his career earnings have surpassed the billion dollar mark.

6 Dustin Johnson

Another LIV Golfer with similarly cloudy earnings figures, Johnson won $47,544,011 in competition across the team competition campaign.

The switch to LIV Golf has proven lucrative for Johnson but others find themselves in peril with spots in the series up for grabs.

Johnson is a former world No 1 player.

The top five highest-paid athletes in 2023

5 Canelo Alvarez

Canelo Alvarez has defended his undisputed middleweight championship twice in 2023 with the second fight earning his a career-high purse of between $40-50 million.

Alvarez is one of the few top boxers who can still claim to be a big draw in the age of celebrity boxing.

He is admired as a technically sound and hard-working fighter.

4 Lebron James

Lebron James’ two-year, $97.1 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers will be up next year and many feel he is set to retire.

It remains to be seen if the divisive icon does give it all up in 2024 or if we will get more from King James.

James also has a stake in Fenway Sports Group—owner of the Boston Red Sox, Liverpool FC and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

3 Kylian Mbappé

Mbappe has been seen to use his clout and influence for good and not just to line his own pockets.

After Mbappé refused to participate in a photo shoot with the French national team when he objected to endorsing some of the brands under contract with the squad, the French federation quickly announced it would work to revise its agreement on players’ image rights.

Mbappe has among the highest salaries in all of sport.

2 Lionel Messi

Messi’s deal with Inter Miami also remains a secret and there are understood to be some incredible add-ons including round-the-clock security.

That security extends to game-day in the MLS with his personal bodyguard patrolling the touchline in-game.

Previously the MLS hasn’t required very tight security but fans have been repeatedly blocked from gaining access to the little master.

1 Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo is also pretty tough to get hold of since he signed for Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr in January.

Ronaldo has received mixed press for the move and sparked some sensational tabloid news stories.

Ronaldo will be the highest-paid athlete in 2023 thanks to his current deal with the club.