Score! Athletes Who Are Walking Bank Rolls

By Jake Schroeder
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Photo Courtesy: robby0059/Pixabay

You probably already think of professional athletes as rich — some may even claim they are far overpaid — but you probably don’t realize just how filthy rich many of them truly are. When it comes to the best players, some athletes take the stereotype of the filthy rich baller to a whole new level.

Factor in that many add to their wealth by making endorsement deals and other shrewd business investments, and it’s easy to understand how their bank balances become so obscene. Check out these athletes who might as well be walking bank rolls.

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30. Evander Holyfield, $500,000

Evander Holyfield went by the moniker "The Real Deal," and he was certainly the real deal as a top earner. Unfortunately, he also proved to be a top spender. He earned $34 million for his infamous bout with Mike Tyson, which ended with Tyson biting off and spitting out a chunk of Holyfield's ear.

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Photo Courtesy: Shelka04/Wikimedia Commons

Pun intended: Holyfield ultimately got into a number of tight financial squeezes after biting off more than he could chew. His net worth is now only $500,000 after undergoing bankruptcy proceedings. It was once as high as $350 million. Ouch!

29. Mike Tyson, $3 million

Mike Tyson went from being the fiercest boxer on the planet to being a convicted rapist serving time in prison — but he didn’t stop there. From being a pariah who lost to Buster Douglas in the greatest upset in boxing history to once again becoming a beloved character re-injected into cultural consciousness, Tyson has been on quite a ride.

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Photo Courtesy: No Author Given/IMDb

And to think his comeback was all attributable to The Hangover film (only half joking). Tyson was once worth more than $350 million before his downfall. He is now heavily invested in the legal cannabis sector and has a reported net worth of $3 million.

28. Stephen Curry, $90 million

Chef Curry might be injured for the 2019 season, but he remains one of the premier basketball players in the world and one of the foremost faces of the NBA. His Golden State Warriors have won NBA championships in 2015, 2017 and 2018. This may come as a shock, but winning pro basketball games pays big.

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Photo Courtesy: Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

Curry has a reported net worth of $90 million, and with his ever-growing average NBA salary, he is likely to grow that figure substantially. He also signed a 10-year, $285 million shoe deal with Under Armour in 2014.

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27. Canelo Alvarez, $120 million

Canelo Alvarez is a Mexican heavyweight boxer who has a career record of 53 wins — and one single loss. He made a reported $94 million in 2019 alone, and he is the face of the up-and-coming sports network DAZN after signing a five-year, $365 million endorsement deal with the sports media company.

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Photo Courtesy: Steve Marcus/Getty Images

Alvarez’s net worth, which takes into account debts and money spent after earnings, is reported to be $120 million, although that figure will undoubtedly grow as he continues to rack up more wins and sign more endorsement deals.

26. Aaron Rodgers, $120 million

Aaron Rodgers took in a reported $90 million in 2019, according to Forbes. Overall, he has a reported net worth of $120 million, thanks to being one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in the NFL. He makes around $34 million in salary each year, and you could certainly argue that his relationship with Danica Patrick improves his Q score.

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Photo Courtesy: Dylan Buell/Getty Images

In fact, Rodgers was one of the top earning athletes in any sport in 2018, raking in nearly $90 million in 12 months. He has endorsement deals with Nike, State Farm and Ford.

25. Kevin Garnett, $120 million

Kevin Garnett was the first high school basketball player to skip college and make the leap straight to the NBA. Not only did that give him a jump start on his earnings, but it helped him make the most of the years he played in the NBA with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets.

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Photo Courtesy: Michael E. Lee/Flickr

Garnett has an estimated net worth of about $120 million, which was amassed in part through his record $334 million NBA career salary. Garnett wasn’t known as the most marketable player in the league, but he did land some endorsements with powerhouse companies like Gatorade.

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24. Russell Wilson, $140 million

Russell Wilson has been the quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks since earning the starting job as a rookie in 2012. He led the team to a Super Bowl win in 2014 and is in the running for the 2019 NFL MVP award. He recently signed a $140 million contract extension, and if all that success wasn’t enough, he's also married to Ciara!

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Photo Courtesy: Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

Wilson brought in nearly $90 million in 2019. He added to his NFL salary with revenue from his own clothing and footwear line, Good Man Brand, which is sold at Nordstrom department stores.

23. Andre Agassi, $170 million

Andre Agassi went through various stages in his career, from the brash, wig-wearing teen to the humble, seasoned, veteran family man. He did quite well financially throughout each of his career stages, ultimately signing an endorsement deal with Nike that paid him $14 million per year for 10 years.

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Photo Courtesy: Taylor Hill/Getty Images

Agassi has had a quiet retirement after winning eight Grand Slam tournaments as a player, but he remains a wealthy man. His net worth is estimated to be $170 million, a level that is reserved for true legends of the tennis game.

22. Manny Pacquiao, $190 million

Manny Pacquiao was once in the conversation as competition for Floyd Mayweather Jr. as the greatest fighter of his generation. Although Mayweather is the frontrunner for that title with an undefeated record, Pacquiao has done quite well for himself with a reported net worth of around $190 million.

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Photo Courtesy: inboundpass/Flickr

He is also a hero in his home country of the Philippines, where he is currently serving as a senator for a term that runs through 2022. There is even speculation that the Pac-Man could eventually become the Philippines' president, which would further bolster his image as an international celebrity.

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21. Jeff Gordon, $200 million

It’s not often that a NASCAR driver reaches a mainstream level of fame, but if anyone from the modern era of racers has achieved that status, it’s Jeff Gordon. As the winner of 93 NASCAR races, Gordon had a long reign as the best driver in the sport. He even graced the cover of a NASCAR video game.

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Photo Courtesy: William D. Moss/Wikimedia Commons

He is thought to be on the ownership path at Hendrick Motorsports, the team where he spent the majority of his career as a driver. Gordon's net worth is estimated to be $200 million.

20. Oscar De La Hoya, $200 million

Oscar De La Hoya has the nickname Golden Boy in boxing circles, which makes sense financially considering boxing proved to be De La Hoya's golden ticket. He earned $52 million for a single match with Floyd Mayweather in 2007. Although that was his high-water mark for single-fight earnings, that water was quite high.

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Photo Courtesy: Bill Tompkins/Getty Images

De La Hoya went on to head Golden Boy Promotions, a promoter of boxing matches. Recently, he hosted a high-profile MMA fight between two UFC legends, Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz. De La Hoya's net worth is reportedly $200 million.

19. Peyton Manning, $200 million

Peyton Manning rose to quick stardom at the University of Tennessee, and he achieved even greater success as a quarterback in the NFL for the Indianapolis Colts and the Denver Broncos. Manning won the NFL MVP award five times and appeared on Saturday Night Live, establishing his charisma and marketability off the gridiron as well.

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Photo Courtesy: Mike Morbeck/Flickr

He is worth approximately $200 million and remains the face of Nationwide Insurance, which is far from his only endorsement. Other sponsors throughout Peyton's career have included DirecTV, Gatorade, Papa John's and OtterBox. He hit the retirement road running by hosting the 2017 ESPYs after completing his final season.

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18. Derek Jeter, $220 million

Derek Jeter's nickname as the shortstop for the New York Yankees was The Captain, and judging by his bank account, he was the captain of the U.S.S. Filthy Rich. He has an estimated net worth of $220 million, accrued in part through his salary from the Yankees but also from a bevy of endorsements.

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Photo Courtesy: Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons

Jeter was arguably the most marketable player in the Major Leagues during most of his tenure. Of course, that makes sense for the most popular player on the most popular team in the world's largest media market. You can't say he didn't capitalize on the opportunity.

17. Neymar, $250 million

Currently a forward for the French soccer club PSG, Neymar is one of the most handsomely paid athletes in his sport. The Brazilian striker has a reported net worth between $180 million and $250 million — and he's only 27 years old with a lot of playing time left.

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Photo Courtesy: Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

He takes in roughly 70% of his annual income from endorsements, and it’s easy to understand why when you see the roster of companies that pay him to represent their brands. The deals include Apple, Nike, Beats by Dre, McDonald's and Gillette. That’s an absolute knockout row of corporate sponsors.

16. Jack Nicklaus, $320 million

As you can see, being really good at golf is quite a lucrative profession. Jack Nicklaus amassed 18 major championship wins during his time on the PGA Tour, and he holds the all-time record (for now), although Tiger Woods is hot on his tail.

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Photo Courtesy: Torrey Wiley/Flickr

Nicklaus played in a time before tournament winners were awarded the outrageous amounts they win today, so he amassed much of his estimated $320 million net worth after his playing days. He is a renowned designer of golf courses, and many entrepreneurs have paid Nicklaus a pretty penny to work his magic on their courses.

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15. Phil Mickelson, $375 million

Phil Mickelson is known as an excellent golfer, although he will always rank behind Tiger Woods when experts line up the best of his generation. Perhaps the man known as Lefty deserves the most credit for his insatiable appetite for paid corporate sponsorships.

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Photo Courtesy: Corn Farmer/Flickr

Much of Mickelson's estimated $375 million net worth has been amassed from sponsorships. KPMG, Rolex, the Greenbrier — you name it, and Mickelson has probably endorsed it. As of July 2019, he had $91 million in career golf earnings. You do the math.

14. Greg Norman, $400 million

Apparently, being one of the best all-time golfers is a recipe for long-term financial stability. The prize winnings for each tournament — typically lasting less than a week — can regularly reach into seven-figures, and the golfing community loves to purchase items endorsed by the greats.

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Photo Courtesy: Ted Van Pelt/Flickr

Greg Norman, known by golf enthusiasts as The Shark, is certainly one of the greats. The native Australian has made a post-retirement windfall through a line of golf apparel bearing his name, and he has enjoyed a decorated career as an announcer. His net worth is in the ballpark of $400 million.

13. Lionel Messi, $400 million

Lionel Messi has spent his entire decorated soccer career at the Spanish club F.C. Barcelona, and he’s paid quite well for his loyalty. Messi has accrued an estimated $400 million net worth, in part from his annual salary of more than $44 million, but also through endorsements and investments.

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Photo Courtesy: Tim Clayton/Getty Images

He has won the Ballon d'Or trophy, given to the best player in the world, six times. This makes him a very marketable figure as the everyman superstar, and he has endorsement deals with Huawei, Adidas, Pepsi and Gatorade, among others.

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12. Shaquille O'Neal, $400 million

Shaquille O'Neal has always been larger than life, but you may be surprised to find out just how huge his bank accounts are as well. His net worth is estimated to be $400 million, most of which came from endorsements after his playing days were finished.

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Photo Courtesy: Airman 1st Class Justin T. Armstrong/US Air Force

Shaq is known for endorsing products that he uses and believes in, such as The General Auto Insurance, VitaminWater, Icy Hot, Comcast and, yes, Burger King and Taco Bell. He also earns a salary as a commentator on the premier NBA show Inside the NBA on TNT.

11. Roger Federer, $450 million

Roger Federer's nickname is "Fed," which seems fitting considering he’s worth nearly as much as the Federal Reserve (also nicknamed Fed). Okay, not really, but a net worth of $450 million isn't something to sneeze at, and it ranks him at the top of the list of highest paid tennis players ever.

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Photo Courtesy: Tatiana/Flickr

Fed has capitalized on his astounding 20 career Grand Slam tournament wins by securing endorsements with Nike, Wilson, Rolex, Credit Suisse, NetJets, Moet & Chandon and Jura, among others. His sterling reputation off the court is as impressive as his dominance on it.

10. David Beckham, $450 million

The man known throughout England — and much of the rest of the soccer-loving world — as Becks is reportedly a $450 million man. He made a pretty penny playing professional soccer at the highest levels throughout the world, and then he made even more as a sponsor's dream.

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Photo Courtesy: Yahoo Pressebilder/Flickr

As an example of Beckham's pull as a marketing icon, he netted a reported $42 million in endorsements alone in 2013, collecting sizable checks from the likes of H+M, Breitling, Adidas and Samsung. He is also married to a former singing superstar and model, so he's rich in spirit as well as cash.

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9. Cristiano Ronaldo, $450 million

Cristiano Ronaldo is yet another one of those athletes who is pretty much globally recognizable through the utterance of one name alone. Either "Cristiano" or "Ronaldo" is usually enough for most casual sports fans to know exactly who you’re talking about.

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Photo Courtesy: Oleg Dubyna/Flickr

Ronaldo has built up an estimated net worth of $450 million through his playing days with Real Madrid, Juventus, Manchester United and Sporting CP. He has also done particularly well for himself through endorsement deals with Nike, DAZN, Electronic Arts, Herbalife and many others. He is perennially in the running for the Ballon d'Or trophy, awarded to the best player alive.

8. LeBron James, $450 million

LeBron James is still young and marketable enough that he could easily end up in the top spot on this list at some point in his career. Ironically, he will be chasing Michael Jordan for that spot, just as he has chased him for the title of greatest basketball player of all-time. LeBron currently has a net worth of $450 million.

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Photo Courtesy: KA Sports Photos/Flickr

King James has now waded into the waters of the entertainment industry, producing Space Jam 2, which is set to be released in 2020. He continues to rake in cash from endorsement deals with Nike, Kia, Beats by Dre and Verizon, among others.

7. Kobe Bryant, $500 million

Kobe Bryant, known in NBA circles as The Black Mamba, has launched a thriving second career as an author, media personality and startup incubator in his retirement, and these pursuits have added substantially to his estimated net worth of $500 million. Of course, Bryant was no slouch as an NBA earner all those years either.

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Photo Courtesy: Alexandra Walt/Flickr

By the end of his career, he was averaging around $25 million in salary and typically matched that figure in endorsements. Banking roughly $50 million a year is a sure-fire way to reach $500 million in quick order, although he didn't make that much money at the onset of his career, of course.

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6. Floyd Mayweather Jr., $560 million

Not many boxers have held World Championship titles in five different weight classes, but that is precisely what Floyd Mayweather Jr. did in his storied career. He is known as a defensive fighter, and his aversion to taking major blows led him to a career record of 43 victories and zero — read that again: zero — losses.

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Photo Courtesy: rcelis/Pixabay

He also proved to be a shrewd self-promoter, marketing his TMT (The Money Team) brand to achieve great financial success in the form of a net worth between $560 million and $1 billion, depending on which source you consult.

5. Alex Rodriguez, $600 million

Before Alex Rodriguez became a media darling, he was quite the lightning rod for controversy. Baseball purists now hate A-Rod for using performance enhancing drugs and tainting the game, but he can soothe his hurt feelings by counting the money in his bank account. To be clear, he was the highest paid player in Major League Baseball history and is basically stupid rich.

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Photo Courtesy: NBC/Getty Images

A-Rod has embarked on a second career as an investor, baseball analyst, shark investor on ABC’s Shark Tank and the future hubby of Jennifer Lopez. His net worth is believed to be about $600 million.

4. Tiger Woods, $800 million

Few athletes, even at the highest echelons of sporting success, are known by a single name. Foremost among the single-name athletes is Eldrick Tont Woods, known to most of the world as Tiger. He has 15 victories on the PGA Tour that qualify as majors, and he fully intends to beat Jack Nicklaus' record of 18.

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Photo Courtesy: David Mark/Pixabay

The way that Tiger won most of those titles — as an annihilating force of domination — is what made him such an indelible cultural icon. It turns out that icon status is lucrative — about $800 million worth of lucrative, in Tiger's case.

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3. Michael Schumacher, $800 million

Michael Schumacher is the most decorated Formula One driver in history. He holds the record for the number of F1 World Championship wins. Although Formula One isn't exactly a mainstream sport in the United States, its global popularity is immense, as evidenced by Schumacher's reported net worth of $800 million.

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Photo Courtesy: exit 1979/Flickr

He was in a scary skiing accident in 2013 that left him in a coma for six months. Ironically, he had retired from racing — which had always posed the most danger in his life — in 2012. Since retiring, he has cashed in on endorsements and other business deals.

2. Arnold Palmer, $875 million

Arnold Palmer, alongside the likes of Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Sam Snead, is considered one of the top golfers of all time. His cultural impact has reached so far that countless people today order a drink with iced tea and lemonade called an Arnold Palmer. Even the younger generation who may not recognize the golfer is familiar with the refreshing drink.

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Photo Courtesy: Alden Jewell/Flickr

He was a brilliant golfer who certainly made some big prize money, but he reportedly netted $40 million in Arnold Palmer-themed golf apparel in the 12 months before his death, just from Asia alone. His uncanny business sense helped generate his net worth of $875 million.

1. Michael Jordan, $1.9 billion

His Royal Airness is arguably the most recognizable athlete of his generation across all sports. He established his dominance on the basketball court with six NBA championships between 1991 and 1998. The makeup of those winning teams changed over the years, but one constant remained, and his initials were MJ.

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Photo Courtesy: Cliff/Flickr

Jordan went on to start his own athletic brand, which has become as culturally relevant and iconic as any sporting shoe brand ever to be established. He also became the first minority owner of an NBA franchise. Pair that with wise investments, and you get a $1.9 billion net worth for your efforts.

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