Who Are The Highest Paid Athletes in America?

Photo: Kevin Mazur (Getty Images)

All hail the modern gladiators, those who fill out arenas and whose photos hang in kids’ rooms across the world, while simultaneously getting unapologetically trash talked online by out of shape dads. Luckily, these world famous athletes can wipe off their cyber-bullying induced tears with $100 dollar bills, as they have them in abundance. Being good at sports pays off, and these ten highest paid athletes in America have really cashed in on their sweat.

For this list, we didn’t count endorsements that athletes have, simply as they are often not disclosed, while in America we have the privilege of knowing the exact figures of athlete’s salaries and winnings. Something that is not the case in the world’s most popular sport – soccer, where players’ pays and bonuses are only speculated on.

The list was formerly dominated by Floyd Mayweather but the boxer is retired, at least for now, and while basketball is regarded as the world’s second most important sport, only one player defends the honor of the NBA.

This is a good time to stop reading if you had a career-ending sports injury that prevented you from going to the pros, as the numbers in this who is the highest paid athlete article get more and more obscene.

Lebron James, Cleveland Cavaliers, NBA – $30.9 M

King James.The best basketball player right now, some would even argue of all time, and that still doesn’t help him get further than the 10th spot. Since signing a new contract with the Cavs in 2016, Lebron got the biggest contract in the NBA by a margin of $4,423,350, and in the next season, he will earn $33,285,709, while having the option to extend his contract for another year and $35,607,968 in the 2018-19 season. According to Forbes, with salaries and endorsements combined, Lebron is the third highest paid athlete in the world with $77.2 million total earnings in 2016, only behind soccer superstars Lionel Messi ($81.4 M) and Cristiano Ronaldo ($88 M).

Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks, NFL – $31.8 M

Highest Paid Athletes No. 9 Russel Wilson

Photo by: Noel Vasquez (Getty Images)

Quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, Russell Wilson, can find money with the same precision he finds his wide receivers. The football player signed a four-year contract in the summer of 2015, worth $87.6 million, and the global authority on money Forbes has him listed with a $31.8 million salary in 2016. The 5’11” quarterback reportedly earned as much as 10 million dollars in endorsements too, due to his deals with Microsoft, Nike, Bose, and Braun. He is pretty business oriented as he also started his own clothing line, Good Man Brand.

A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals, NFL – $32.8 M

Highest Paid Athletes: No. 8 A.J. Green

Photo by: Tommaso Boddi (Getty Images)

Having endorsements $500K in value didn’t stop A.J. Green from being the 30th highest-paid athlete in 2016 thanks to his immense earnings received from the Cincinnati Bengals. The 28-year-old wide receiver shook up the NFL with his performances at the start of his career, and it’s still paying off. His contract is regarded as one of the most player-friendly contracts in the National Football Association, earning him a high spot on the USA top paid athletes list of the year.

Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB – $33 M

Highest Paid Athletes: No. 7 - Clayton Kershaw

Photo by: Emma McIntyre (Getty Images)

How endorsements are tricky and confusing is best visible in the example of LA Dodgers’ pitcher Clayton Kershaw who is reported to earn “just” $800,000 from his business associations in 2016. That won’t trouble him too much as the 28-year-old has a 7-year contract worth $215,000,000! In 2017 Dodgers will pay $33,000,000 to Kershaw, and the ludicrous contract lasts until 2020. Endorsements and salary together and Kershaw is the year’s 33rd highest paid sportsperson in the world!

Marcell Dareus, Buffalo Bills, NFL – $35.1

Highest Paid Athletes: No. 6 Marcell Dareus

Photo by: Josh Hedges(Getty Images)

Out of 100 top paid athletes in 2016, Marcell Dareus has the fourth smallest endorsement earnings of “just” $100K. Although, the youngest player on this 10 most paid athletes list is definitely not in financial trouble as he cashed in $35.1 million in 2016. His six-year contract signed in 2015 has the most guaranteed money for a non-quarterback player, and the third overall draft pick from 2011 is looking as comfortable in the financial field as he is on the football field.

Tom Brady, New England Patriots, NFL – $36.1 M

Highest Paid Athletes: No. 5 Tom Brady

Photo by: Patrick Smith (Getty Images)

Arguably the best quarterback ever and definitely the most famous football player worldwide Tom Brady isn’t racking upon endorsement money as some would’ve thought. New England Patriots’ commander cashed in $8,000,000 this way, but his skills on the field brought him $36,100,000 in 2016. The 39-year-old signed a two-year contract extension with the Patriots in 2016, so just based on the longevity of his career he is definitely one of the richest American athletes out there.

Eli Manning, New York Giants, NFL – $37 M

Highest Paid Athletes: No. 4 Eli Manning

Photo by: Diamond Images (Getty Images)

Another NFL quarterback on the list and another multiple Super Bowl winner, and while Brady has more rings, Manning has a thicker wallet. Not only did Manning get the biggest salary guarantee in NFL ($65 million), matching Philip Rivers deal, but his total career earnings are in the very top already – $188 M! And Eli Manning still has to play out his four-year extension he signed in September, so by the time the 36-year-old finishes his career he will have an absurd fortune.

Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers, NFL – $37,5 M

Highest Paid Athletes: No. 3 Philip Rivers

Photo by: Streeter Lecka (Getty Images)

A streak of quarterbacks, but Philip Rivers didn’t manage to win the Super Bowl yet, unlike his predecessors, but he can’t be too sad about as he has enough money on his account to buy 15 Ferrari F60 Americas, which go around for mere 2.5 million dollars. And that’s just from single year earnings! The half of million he earned from endorsements in 2016 comes off as pocket money compared to the mammoth amount of money he gets from the LA Chargers. Good thing he has a no-trade clause in his contract too.

Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers, NFL – $41.1 M 

Highest Paid Athletes: No. 2 Cam Newton

Photo by: Emma McIntyre (Getty Images)

NFL’s newest superstar Cam Newton quickly got to the Mount Everest heights when it comes to salaries in sports, and he isn’t doing badly on the endorsement side of the spectrum. The second youngest athlete on this list will earn $12 millions from his business endeavors, and since he is only 27 and won the MVP in 2015, incoming business deals will be even larger. Salary and endorsement money combined – Newton is the world’s seventh highest-paid athlete!

Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens, NFL – $44 M



Highest Paid Athletes: No. 1 Joe Flacco

Photo by: Patrick Smith (Getty Images)

The outside world might say “Who?!” but that doesn’t phase the Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco as he is the king of USA when it comes to player earnings. The Super Bowl XLVII winner and MVP has the highest average salary in the NFL at $22.1 million, with that kind of money he doesn’t even have to deal with commercial support. One thing is sure, this list will make boys fight about who’s going to be the quarterback even more.

Flacco is still not the highest paid athlete in the world, Messi is in front with $53.4 million and Cristiano Ronaldo holds the planet bragging rights with $56 million.

Sooo, maybe take your kids to soccer practice?