Which Sports Make the Most Money?

7 months ago
6 mins 7 secs

Perhaps you’re a budding sportsman wondering: Which sports make the most money? Several sports fans are always interested in knowing which sport makes the most money. With over 800 sports to choose from, it’s only standard that a few earn far more than others. If you’re curious to discover which is the highest-earning sport, you’re on the right page. Let’s explore sporting activities that pay the most.

Basketball is the highest-earning sport, with player Michael Jordan earning $36 million in 1993. Following close behind is boxing, auto racing, golf, American football, soccer, tennis, Ice Hockey, Baseball, and cycling. These sports all have players who earn above other athletes that play in the same sport. Aside from these, these athletes also gain popularity for their participation in top games.

This post will break down some of the top earning sports and answer the question, “Which sports make the most money?”.

Which Sports Make the Most Money?

Here are ten sporting activities that pay the most:

  1. Cycling
  2. Ice Hockey
  3. Baseball
  4. Tennis
  5. Soccer
  6. American Football
  7. Golf
  8. Auto Racing
  9. Boxing
  10. Basketball

1. Cycling

Cycling is the tenth sport that makes the most money. The sport is a physically demanding activity that requires a great degree of skill. It encompasses different types of bicycle racing, including road racing, cyclo-cross, time trials, track cycling, mountain biking, and cycle speedway.

Artistic cycling, cycle polo, freestyle BMX, and mountain bike trails are other examples of cycling sports. Since there are over 15 cycling events yearly, well-known cyclists make a lot of money competing in events. These events include Milan-Sanremo, the Strade Bianche, the Tour de France, and the Tour of Flanders.

In addition to their racing income, several of these cyclists benefit greatly from endorsement arrangements. According to reports, cycling legend Lance Armstrong is worth $50 million.

2. Ice Hockey

Ice hockey is sometimes called “The Fastest Game on Earth” because it’s fast-paced and physically demanding. Aside from being the ninth highest-earning sport globally, ice hockey is also a popular pastime for fans. 

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Many ice hockey athletes have landed on Forbes’ list of the world’s wealthiest athletes. In 1994, legendary ice hockey player Wayne Gretzky came in fifth place, earning $13.5 million in total. He ranked 10th on the list the following year with $14.5 million in total earnings.

A Canadian ice hockey player, Joe Sakic, ranked 9th in 1997 with $17.9 million. With a total income of $29.8 million, Russian international ice hockey player Sergei Fedorov ranked third on the 1998 list.

3. Baseball

Baseball is one of the most popular sports in the United States. Due to its widespread acceptance, it is the eighth highest-earning sport globally. For example, according to Forbes, American baseball player Cecil Fielder became the eighth richest person in the world in 1993, with a total income of $12.7 million.

Alex Rodriguez was ranked 7th on Forbes’ list of the World’s Richest Players in 2003, with a total income of $26 million. He was also 9th in 2004 with a total income of $26.2 million and 35 million total revenue in 2011.

4. Tennis

One of the world’s most popular recreational sports, tennis attracts millions of players worldwide. Tennis is the second most demanding sport in terms of stamina and the seventh sport that makes the most money. As of 2022, the legendary Roger Federer is the highest-earning tennis athlete.

With endorsements from corporations like Nike, Credit Suisse, and Rolex, Roger Federer has made $52 million. In 2022, he has earned a total of $56.2 million, including $4.2 million in prize money. Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic are just a few high-earning tennis players.

5. Football

You can’t name any sport that makes the most money without mentioning football. Its players are also some of the best paid globally. David Beckham made his Forbes list debut in 2004 with a total income of $28 million, making him the 8th richest globally.

In 2005, he ranked 7th with $32.5 million income, and in 2007, he ranked 6th with $33 million. A Brazilian soccer player, Ronaldinho ranked 9th in the 2007 Forbes list with $31 million. With a total of $50 million, David Beckham once again ranked second in 2008.

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Cristiano Ronaldo, a Portuguese footballer, topped Forbes’ list of the world’s wealthiest athletes in 2017 with total revenue of $93 million. However, Messi is currently the highest-paid footballer globally, with Cristiano Ronaldo a close second in terms of earnings.

6. American Football

American football is the sixth highest-earning sport globally. Therefore, its players are also part of the best-paid athletes in the world of sports. American football is also very lucrative as other job opportunities and contracts can be beneficial to players.

One of the best players in the sports, Joe Montana, came 7th place on the Forbes list with his income of $9.5 million in 1992. Deion Sanders, the NFL star, earned third place on the same list with his $22.5 million income in 1995. In 2004, Peyton Manning took third place after earning $42 million.

Asides from these mentioned, there have been other players who made the list of the wealthiest athletes in later years.

7. Golf

Golf might not seem lucrative to some people, but it’s also the fourth highest-earning sport. There have been several highest-earning sports players whose specialty was playing golf. Its star earner as of 2022 is Mr. Tiger Woods.

Currently, he earns $62 million annually and is only one of the players that earn a lot. Other top players on the list include Phil Mickelson, who earns $46.1 million, and Dustin Johnson, who makes $40,8 million. Rory McIlroy earns $32.8 million, while Xander Schauflee earns $17,3 million. 

8. Auto Racing

Several racing events, like NASCAR, have earned the reputation of being the third sport that makes the most money. Asides from this, there are several endorsements players benefit from while playing.

With $49 million, Michael Schumacher, a racer, ranked top on Forbes’ list of the World’s Richest Players in 1999. With $59 million in 2000, he repeated the feat.

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Before that, in 1992, Ayrton Senna was third on World’s Richest Players list, with a net worth of $22 million. Nigel Mansell was in fourth place on the list with a total income of $14.5 million in the same year.

9. Boxing

Among the highest-earning sporting events, boxing has also made its impact. Big-name boxers take home significant sums of money from tournament winnings. Additionally, they make money via Pay-Per-View, betting, and endorsements.

One of the best boxers of time, Mike Tyson was the highest-earning sports player in 1991 with $28.6 million. In 1996, he made $75 million from the same strategy. On Forbes’ list of Richest Players in 1992, Evander Holyfield raked in $60.5 million.

Floyd Mayweather became a top sports player in 2012 with an income of $85 million. He also topped the list again in 2014 with an income of $105 million.

10. Basketball

NBA and other well-known basketball competitions have been praised for being the highest-earning sport. Its players are paid a large sum of money by their teams. They also make millions of dollars from a variety of endorsements.

To supplement their annual revenue, they have signature shoes and jerseys. Michael Jordan, a basketball star, was the wealthiest player in 1992, with a net worth of $35.9 million. In 1993, he earned $36.0 million, and in 1997, he made $78.3 million. 

Shaquille O’Neal was the sixth highest-paid player. He earned $15.2 million in 1993 and $16.7 million in 1994, putting him in second place.

Conclusion

There are many sports that athletes enjoy playing and fans enjoy watching. All ten sports listed above have been the highest paying for a long time now. With their constant growth, these sports will likely remain on the list of the highest-earning sports activities. And given this information, you no longer need to be in the dark about which sports make the most money.

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