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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Highest-Paid Athletes List Loaded With Middle Eastern Money

  • List boasts names ranging from LeBron James to Lionel Messi.
  • LeBron James is the highest-paid American athlete.
Cristiano Ronaldo is the world's highest paid athlete.
Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports

Five Americans are among the world’s highest-paid athletes — but the Middle East has opened its purse strings to become a stronger player in the sports arena.

When LIV Golf hit the scene in 2022, the new league dished out guaranteed money to PGA Tour members, placing several in Forbes’ world top-10 world’s wealthiest athletes.

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund bankrolled the upstart LIV Golf tour, throwing tens of millions at stars like Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson. 

“Forbes estimates that Mickelson received a guarantee of $200 million to sign with the tour, and Johnson $125 million, half of which they are believed to have received upfront,” noted the magazine.

The Saudis and Qatar also pay the mega-salaries of the top three athletes on this list (in order): Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, and Kylian Mbappé. 

While the above three are all international soccer players, three NBA superstars (LeBron James, Steph Curry, and Kevin Durant) and two LIV golfers (Johnson and Mickelson) feature in the top 10. 

With Middle Eastern money flowing into golf and soccer, the world’s top athletes are making more money on and off the field than ever.

According to Forbes, the top 10 highest-paid athletes collected a record $1.11 billion before taxes and agent’s fees over the past 12 months — up 12% from $990 million last year and a 5% increase over the previous record of $1.06 billion set in 2018.

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