Top Highest-Paying Sports in the World

ball under basketball ring

We all know that famous athletes like Floyd Mayweather, Tiger Woods, or Cristiano Ronaldo are absurdly wealthy. After all, earning over 100 million dollars per year is unimaginable for most of us.

Nonetheless, we may wonder: what is the highest-paid sport? Even though Roger Federer became the highest-paid athlete in 2020, we cannot say that tennis is the most profitable sport discipline.

Of course, watching tennis live streaming is a popular option during a pandemic, but do professional tennis players earn more than basketball or football players? 

This article is here to answer these questions! If you wish to find out the best five highest-paying sports in the world, read on:


people inside the basketball court
  • Average Salary: $8.5 million per annum
  • Highlight: Dominated by the NBA, basketball not only promises its elite athletes immense salaries but also offers extensive endorsement deals and global recognition.
  • Global Influence: With an estimated 3.5 billion fans worldwide, basketball’s universal appeal significantly contributes to its financial dominance.

The world’s highest-paid sport is, without a doubt, basketball. National Basketball Association (NBA) superstars like Stephen Curry or Lebron James have one of the world’s highest salaries among active players.

However, to earn a nice payday, you do not even have to be a starter on an NBA team! With an average salary of $7.4 million per year, even a player outside of the top 100 basketball players list can feel satisfied with their earnings.

We asked Adam C, who works hand in hand with various companies on what he thought about this and he said, ” Basketball is not only the highest-paying sport, but it is also a very interesting game. Many companies that offer team building games include this sport as one of virtual escape games because it’s great and truly brings people together. “

Add to it some cash from sponsors or endorsements, and you can see why NBA players are among the best-paid athletes every year. If you want to earn a lot of money every season, choose this sport as your career path!


man in white and black baseball jersey shirt and red baseball cap
  • Average Salary: $4.9 million per annum
  • Significance: Esteemed for its historical roots and widespread appeal, especially in the USA and Japan, baseball offers athletes substantial financial rewards.
  • Fan Base: With about 500 million global followers, the sport enjoys significant media coverage and sponsorships, contributing to its high earning potential.

Baseball has millions of fans in the United States and all over the world.  According to statistics, it was played by 15 million Americans in 2017 no wonder this sport is so well-paid.

Interestingly, baseball has significantly influenced language in America. Many English expressions are derived from its terminology. The most notable examples include: getting the first base, stepping up to the plate, or being in the right ballpark.

All of it shows how high of a status baseball has in almost every American home. Thus, along with high viewership numbers, MLB players can expect good royalties.

With this discipline’s continued growth, we may one day encounter a reality in which baseball will be the best-paying sport in the world. Nevertheless, even nowadays, it is an enticing option for every aspiring athlete.

Formula 1 Racing

a group of racing cars driving down a race track
  • Average Salary: $4 million per annum
  • Distinctive Aspect: A sport that combines technological prowess with high-octane excitement, Formula 1 offers its top drivers not only prize money but also hefty endorsements.
  • Global Appeal: The sport’s international circuit and elite status attract a diverse and wealthy fan base, boosting its economic impact.

Formula 1, often referred to as Grand Prix racing, represents the pinnacle of motor sports. This exhilarating and prestigious form of racing features high-performance automobiles competing on meticulously designed tracks, including closed city streets and specialized racing circuits. Governed by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), Formula 1 stands as a testament to engineering excellence, with the FIA meticulously setting and regulating the specifications for each racing class. These regulations ensure not only the highest standards of safety but also fair competition, allowing drivers and teams to showcase their skills in a technologically advanced, adrenaline-fueled environment. The blend of speed, strategy, and cutting-edge technology makes Formula 1 a captivating spectacle for millions of fans worldwide.


soccer stadium
  • Average Salary: $3.9 million per annum
  • Global Popularity: As the most-watched sport globally, soccer commands a vast fan base, making it a highly lucrative field for top players.
  • Economic Impact: The universal love for soccer translates into significant media rights deals and sponsorship opportunities, further elevating player earnings.

Soccer is not only a global discipline but also one of the highest-paid sports in the world. As it requires a lot of endurance and technical skills, it is natural that a soccer player’s average salary is around $2 million for a season.

Besides, endorsement deals that some soccer players can get are mind-boggling. For example, Lionel Messi earned $32 million last year from the endorsements alone. Such high numbers only prove the popularity of this sport. 

Soccer teams, players, or even coaches and managers can enjoy a high-income thanks to this sports accessibility and marketability. While the whole world is playing it, soccer should stay as a top-earning discipline for many years to come.

Ice Hockey

ice hockey players on ice hockey stadium
  • Average Salary: $3.5 million per annum
  • Market Presence: Particularly popular in regions like North America and Northern Europe, ice hockey offers its players handsome salaries and lucrative endorsements.
  • Fan Engagement: The sport’s intense and fast-paced nature has cultivated a dedicated fan base, contributing to its economic robustness.

Ice Hockey, one of the fastest games of all time, is also on our list of the top five highest-paying sports. Its placement should come as no surprise as the National Hockey League (NHL) is one of the world’s wealthiest sports leagues.

Many famous NHL players held high positions on the Forbes list of highest-paid players. For example, legendary player Wayne Gretzky became the fifth richest person in 1994 with a total income of $13.5 million.

As it turned out, Gretzky’s success laid the foundation for what this sport is today. Thanks to his contribution, current top NFL players can enjoy high income for every season they spend on the ice.

Moreover, hockey is becoming more popular with each passing year. This observation means that very soon, playing in a hockey team might make you a billionaire in the span of a single calendar year.

American Football

football field
  • Average Salary: $2.7 million per annum
  • Popularity and Reach: Dominantly popular in North America, American football has a massive following, with over 410 million fans globally.
  • Governing Body: International Federation of American Football
  • Player Notables: Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady
  • Economic Impact: High media rights revenues and extensive sponsorship deals contribute to the sport’s financial strength.
  • Fan Engagement: Known for its strategic gameplay and cultural significance in the USA, American football enjoys a fervent and loyal fan base.
  • Unique Features: A blend of soccer and English rugby, the sport is distinguished by its tactical depth and physicality.

American football is a sport loved by many people, even outside of the USA. Thus, there is no surprise that it finds its way onto our list.

National Football League (NFL) players, on average, earn $860 thousand a year. Additionally, NFL salaries have been steadily growing over recent years, and there are no signs of stopping this trend.

Moreover, top NFL stars like Matt Ryan can hope for even better financial results. With one of the highest-paid players in the world coming from the NFL, it is safe to say that it is one of the best paying sports in general.


Now you know what the highest-paid sports are! All professional players from these five disciplines can hope for a lucrative contract.

Of course, there are other major sports with high salaries that did not make our list. For example, auto racing or tennis have their representatives among the highest-paid athletes; take a look at Lewis Hamilton and Rafael Nadal. 

Sports are all about fierce competition and strong emotions, making them so attractive for millions of people all over the world. That’s why making a career in sports is always a great idea!