Top 6 athletes who earned the most from off-court deals in 2021-22


Today’s sports stars are global icons. They are followed all over the world and this staggering popularity translates into a fortune and more thanks to their sheer market value.

While the best athletes in the world obviously make a lot of money on the field, most also put a lot of effort into maintaining a stable source of income. Many of our global sports stars are successful entrepreneurs and ambassadors.

Their names and their faces are enough to give credibility to the brands. According to Forbes, the world’s 50 highest-paid athletes took home $2.97 billion excluding taxes and agent fees last year.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the top six athletes who earned the most from off-court deals in 2021-22.

#6 Cristiano Ronaldo – $55 Million

Norwich City v Manchester United - Premier League
Norwich City v Manchester United – Premier League

Cristiano Ronaldo is the most popular individual on social media with around 708 million followers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. This social media influence helps Ronaldo raise big bucks through endorsement deals with Nike, Clear Shampoo and Herbalife.

The Portuguese legend has also poured money into Tatel Restaurants, which recently opened a new outlet in Beverly Hills. Ronaldo has also become an ambassador for Zuju GP, an upcoming digital football community app.

Ronaldo earned $55 million from his off-field deals in the 2021-22 season.

#5 Lionel Messi – $55 Million

Real Madrid v Paris Saint-Germain: Round of 16 - UEFA Champions League
Real Madrid v Paris Saint-Germain: Round of 16 – UEFA Champions League

Lionel Messi has an emphatic set of endorsement deals, the most lucrative of which is a $20m-a-year partnership with Socios. It also has deals with PepsiCo, Adidas and Budweiser.

Messi, who picked up a record seventh Ballon d’Or in 2021, is also the first athlete to become a Hard Rock International brand ambassador. He continues to be one of the most influential athletes on the planet despite a disappointing debut season with Paris Saint-Germain.

#4 Naomi Osaka – $58 million

Tennis - Olympic Games: Day 4
Tennis – Olympic Games: Day 4

Naomi Osaka is currently the no. 1 ranked female tennis player. She has won four Grand Slam titles and has become an iconic figure in the sports world. Osaka is one of the highest paid athletes in the world, based strictly on off-court earnings.

According to Forbes, Osaka has more than 20 partner companies. These include world famous brands such as Nike, Mastercard and Louis Vuitton. She won $58 million between May 2021 and May 2022.

Naomi Osaka is the highest paid female athlete in the world, according to @forbes, earning over $50 million a year from endorsements alone.

#3 Tiger Woods – $68 million

PGA Championship - Round 3
PGA Championship – Round 3

Tiger Woods now has a net worth of at least $1 billion. He joins Michael Jordan and LeBron James as the only athletes to break the billion barrier. Tiger Woods is a 15-time major winner and he has ridiculously profitable endorsement deals.

Woods supports brands such as Nike, Monster Energy, Gatorade, and TaylorMade, among others. He has also diversified his sources of income and owns TGR Design, a golf course design company in addition to TGR Live, a live event production initiative. It also has a restaurant named The Woods.

Woods has also invested money in Full Swing, Heard and Popstroke, according to Forbes (via Telegraph India).

#2 LeBron James – $80 million

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Washington Wizards
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Washington Wizards

LeBron James couldn’t lead the Los Angeles Lakers to the playoffs this season, but that didn’t really have an effect on his economic status off the court. James raised $80 million via off-field deals between May 2021 and May 2022.

He made big money moving his talk show, The Shop, to YouTube from HBO. James appeared in and co-produced the 2021 American live-action sports comedy/animated film Space Jam: A New Legacy.

The 37-year-old raked in even more money after selling a significant minority stake in SpringHill, the production house behind Space Jam and The Shop. James also signed an endorsement deal with in January 2021.

The legendary athlete has also invested money in Tonal, a home gym business, and StatusPro.

#1 Roger Federer – $90.7 million

French Open 2021 - Seventh day
French Open 2021 – Seventh day

Roger Federer is synonymous with class and elegance. While injuries kept him out for the majority of 2020 and 2021, his sources of income never dried up. Federer has sponsorship deals with Rolex and Uniqlo and has invested money in Swiss shoe company On.

Federer won 20 Grand Slam titles during his illustrious career and is widely regarded as one of the greatest of all time. He raked in $90.7 million in revenue from off-field deals between May 2021 and May 2022.

Roger Federer, the highest paid tennis player in the world, earned $90.7 million in the past 12 months, but only $0.7 million actually came from tennis.

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