Ever since the sports industry became the commercial juggernaut it is today, its most decorated athletes have found themselves earning huge sums of money thanks to salaries, bonuses, and endorsements. Rising each year, these elite athletes are earning more money than ever before, propelling the top earners onto global rich lists. What is most noticeable about this list is that the majority of names have long been retired from their sport, but have managed to amass huge amounts of wealth thanks to savvy business deals and vast, long-term, sponsorships. Here are the top 5 richest athletes in the world in 2020.
Top of the list is the man simply known as 'MJ' - basketball's greatest player ever and now the world's richest athlete. Jordan earned $90 million throughout his unprecedented career, where he won 6 NBA Finals championships with the Chicago Bulls. However, it's his sponsorship deals - worth $1.7 billion to date - with the likes of Nike, Gatorade, and Hanes that have earned MJ the bulk of his income.
One of the greatest basketball players of all time, Earvin 'Magic' Johnson Jr. certainly lived up to his name on the court. Magic played for the illustrious La Lakers for an impressive 13 years, before announcing his retirement in 1996 amid contracting HIV. Johnson earned a relatively modest $25 million over his career, but investments and entrepreneurship post-retirement have seen him amass considerable wealth.
A true sporting all-rounder, Ion Tiriac was part of the Romanian ice hockey team at the 1964 Winter Olympics, before switching to tennis, where he won 23 career titles and climbed to number 8 in the ATP rankings. Following his retirement in the 1970s, Tiriac coached some of the world's best tennis players, before embarking on his business and investment ventures - where he started to make serious money. Today, he runs Tiriac Group, an investment company with a focus on financial services and property.
Unsurprisingly, Tiger Woods is currently the most successful and highest-earning golfer in golfing history. Woods has made the bulk of his earnings from a range of massive sponsorship deals, with the likes of Nike, Gilette, and Tag Heuer forming a long list of lucrative partners. It's rumored that at one point, Nike was paying Tiger $30 million per year to don the famous swoosh. In fact, so considerable are Woods' endorsements, they currently account for 93% of his earnings over the course of his career. Serious star power.
Considered the greatest Formula One racing driver of all time, the Ferrari legend Michael Schumacher won a record 7 World Championships during his illustrious career. In fact, 5 of the 7 titles were won consecutively. Schumacher is one of the few athletes to have earned over $1 billion from his sporting career - at his peak, the German powerhouse was estimated to be making $80-$100 million per year from driving, plus a whopping $50 million in annual endorsements.