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Most Paid Sports And The Reasons Why

  • Basketball.
  • Drive racing.
  • Major league baseball.
  • Boxing.
  • Ice hockey.

In terms of value, sports attract exclusively distinct ratings. A lot of factors come into play and provide the basis on which different sporting events are valued.  No two are similar.

From a vantage point of view, here’s a list of some of the most highly paid sports, and why.


Basketball player
Basketball player about to score.

In start-up lore, no figure is more venerated than legendary basketball player Michael Jordan. His physique was (and still is) alluring, his slam dunks are beyond perfect, and to wrap it up, he was deemed as revolutionary. This is the glamorous side of the story. Do you know what else Michael Jordan did? He did 3 sets of medicine ball sit-ups and pushups daily, spent stretching hours on rigorous workouts and training and had to grapple with lingering shoulder and knee injuries. And you still think Basketball does not deserve this top spot?

Besides being a popular sport, basketball also attracts enviable stipends and is regarded as the most highly paid sport in the world. The National Basketball Association is the highest paying league today, surpassing the Premier League and the NFL. To top it up, several NBA players have featured in Forbes’s list of highest-paid athletes, with James LeBron of Los Angeles Laker's topping. MJ also secured a slot in Forbes’s list in the 1990s and achieved a net worth of $39 million in 1998.

Monthly salaries are not the only avenues of making serious money moves in basketball. With the evolution of the basketball arena, players are awarded payment for rebounds, points scored, blocks, assists, and field goal percentages. These earnings add up to substantial amounts annually and taking the 2017-2018 season as an example, Stephen Curry earned a whopping $ 37,682,550, with LeBron James towing closely behind him with $ 33, 284,709

NBA players are known to land lucrative endorsement deals from coveted brands and reap big from such deals. LeBron James for example, landed his first endorsement deal with Nike while he was still in high school. His Nike advertisement alone made him earn up to $ 52 million off the court in terms of annual sales. Regarding marketing and endorsement contracts, Basketball players win, and they win big.


Sebastian Vettel in the Scuderia Ferrari
Sebastian Vettel in the Scuderia Ferrari during Grand Prix Heineken Of Italy.

This is another spellbinding sport, especially if you are an adrenaline inclined type.

Racing cars are not just entertaining, they are beyond compelling. The world of Motorsport is diverse and presents us with intriguing series such as the Grand Prix of Formula One and NASCAR Cup series. Besides being the most-watched, they are among the most highly paid sports events. Auto racing is classically entertaining, but only if you are watching from the sidelines. Truth is, motorsport drivers, put their lives on the line in the course of their duty.

Underlying the whole notion of auto-racing is the endless chase to be fastest on the track. But in as much as we are awed by flying Ferraris, not even the most skilled drivers are immune to tragedy. Prolific Motorsport drivers such as Sena and Dale Earnhardtform part of the statistics of talented drivers who have lost their lives to fatal crashes. 

 Internationally competitive drivers bank up to 40 million dollars annually, with amateur drivers making up to $ 125, 000 per race. Besides endorsements from reputed brands, motorsports drivers also earn from coaching upcoming drivers and demonstrating auto products.

F1 drivers also decorate Forbes’s of the richest sportsmen. In 1999, Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher featured on Forbes’s list of highest-paid athletes with a net worth of $59 million.

Aggregate earnings of Motorsport drivers are composed of a salary, sponsorship deals and bonuses for race wins. Some of the world's highest-paid drivers are Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel of Formula one. Their net earnings are estimated at $ 35 million and $ 26.8 million respectively. F1 is also sponsored by Rolex and research shows that it has received over 30 billion dollars in terms of sponsorship deals over the past year.


Hiroki Kuroda
Los Angeles Dodgers P Hiroki Kuroda #18 pitches during the MLB game.

Besides being the 8th most popular sports in the world, baseball is also among the most highly paid ones. Its untamed popularity, especially in the USA, Cuba, Japan, and The Dominican Republic, has attracted a wide audience. It commands a fan base of about 500 million fans around the world.

On average, a Major League Baseball player earns 3.2 million dollars and this value is likely to go higher. This major boost will be from the soaring local and international TV rights fees.

In as much they are still don’t inch any close to their NBA counterparts, MLB players are paid gruesomely well too. MLB, being the biggest baseball league, attracts some heavenly endorsement contracts. Also, the salary scale of MLB players is quite impressive, with the minimum wage standing at 550,000 dollars.

A couple of baseball players have made it to Forbes’s list of the highest-earning players, with some of the most visible names being Max Scherzer($ 37. 4 million) and Mark Trout (31.4 million dollars).

Generally, the average revenue for baseball has been on the rise, and Base ballplayers will most likely be enjoying bigger rewards shortly.


Professional boxers
Professional boxers in a match.

This is another sport that has made its dent in the modern sports scene and continues to gain momentum. The sport of ‘throwing punches’ also finds its way on this list.

Boxing specifically makes a bigger chunk of its earnings through Pay per view, the type of pay-television service that allows a viewer to privately purchase shows and view them via private telecast. Floyd Mayweather also hailed as the King of pay per view is the biggest contender of this service.

The risk involved in boxing is also enormous, justifying the hefty tournament prizes, endorsements, Pay per view commissions and betting earnings.

Professional boxers such as Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, and George foreman are amongst the world’s richest boxers. Mayweather has scooped the top position in Forbes’s list of the richest players in the world, both in 2012 and 2014. He holds innumerable boxing titles and is currently estimated to be worth 560 million dollars.


Ice hockey player
Ice hockey player on the ice in an open stadium.

This is one of the most appealing winter sports ever and is played especially in Canada, Europe, Russia, and the United States. The National Hockey League is the biggest professional hockey league in the world, held in North America.

Financially, NHL players can’t be worse off.  Averagely, a player in the NHL earns a minimum wage of $ 650, 000 dollars. The NHL shepherds every player by structuring measures to ensure that every player is fairly compensated.

The top five highest-paid Ice hockey players earn big and the sport continues to boast with stumbling ratings. Among the highest-paid NHL players include:

    Conor McDavid

    At only 19 years, he was already team captain. In 2019, he has earned about 19 million dollars from ice hockey and $ 4 million more off the ice. How compelling is that?

    John Tavares

   He ranks second highest in terms of earnings, specifically for this season. Tavares is to take home an estimated $ 17.3 million, including $ 1.4 million from endorsement deals.

Ice hockey players’ salaries are not confined to monthly earnings. Besides endorsement deals, they also earn through lofty annual signing bonuses.

Some of the official sponsors of the league are Google, Coca-Cola, Chevrolet, and Bank of America.


Golfer playing golf.

Unlike other physically intensive sports, golf is more receptive in terms of age and body fitness.  Once you’ve mastered the art of the teeing ground, you can have a career that stretches way into your fifties. For this reason, golf players tend to enjoy profitable, remarkable careers.

Being a solo sport, golf players tend to take home substantial amounts, since they take all credence for their wins. With famous golf tours being held yearly, around the world, legendary players like Tiger Woods are constantly on a money-making spree. Tournaments such as PGA championships, for example, have golfers competing for $ 10.5 million prize money.

Actually, according to Forbes 5 out of the top 100 highest-paid athletes are golfers.

 Narrowing down a little bit, let’s look at Tiger woods for example. The legendary golf guru has secured endorsement deals with brands such as Nike, Monster energy and Bridgestone. Since 1996, when he officially transitioned into a golfing legend, Woods has made a total of $ 1.5 billion, with most of it being from endorsements. Other golfers who are paid highly include Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson.


American football game
American football game without focus players in the background.

Playing for the National Football League (NFL) is a solid dream for any Football lover. From as early as high school, American Football players have found their footing and have their focus on getting drafted. What’s the fuss about the NFL though?

The gratifications that accompany being drafted for the NFL are wide-ranging, but the financial rewards are the most obvious. With earnings of $ 89.5 and $ 89.3 million dollars respectively, Russel Wilson and Aaron Rodgers are the highest-paid football players. The NFL houses sports’ household names who have secured multi-million endorsement deals with prolific brands.

The highest-paid running back in the league, Elliot, recently signed a $ 140-million-dollar contract extension with the Seattle Seahawks. The average players get to take home substantial rewards too. The minimum annual salary of a rookie active roster player is about 480,000 dollars. Depending on what position you play in the league, earnings in American Football are pretty impressive.