What makes someone great at what they do? When we think of greatness, we may think of great painters, actors, or musicians, inventors, or athletes. But it’s interesting to analyze what differentiates good artists and athletes from those that are truly great. Greatness attracts us to people. When we notice a unique talent no matter where we find it, we are reminded perhaps of what we can all be if we dedicate our lives to it.
If you ask the average third or fourth-grader, they will likely tell you that they want to be a famous singer, actor, or sports figure. Why? One reason is the extreme level of income they can make in these professions.
Sports figures, as well as expert sports MCs and others involved in the sports industry, end up banking seven figures many times. Let’s take a look at the top 25 wealthiest athletes in the world in 2018 and see what makes them so unique to their fans. Look through this list of the most affluent athletes in the world and think about what it is that brought them to this level.
1. Arnold Palmer: $1.4 billion
Arnold Palmer was the highest paid athlete in the world until his death in 2016. A year after his death, his estate was still raking in cash to the tune of $40 million in the last 12 months. There is a chain of stores in Asia based on the famed athlete’s name. He had several business deals that continued to add to his wealth even after his PGA golfing career ended.
2. Michael Jordan: $1.31 billion
Michael Jordan is an American basketball player who played a total of 15 seasons for the NBA. He played for two teams through his career: The Chicago Bulls and The Washington Wizards. He had an uncanny ability to make amazing saves during intense contests between key competitive teams, raising him to superstar status. He was able to make a “three shot” from halfway across the basketball stadium, much to the delight of screaming fans. His net worth is now estimated around $1.31 billion.
3. Ion Tiriac Net Worth: $1.28 Billion
Ion Tiriac is a Romanian sports hero. He played two sports professionally: tennis and ice hockey. Now retired, he manages Luca Pouille’s career in professional tennis and owns the Mutua Madrid Open Tennis Tournament. His net worth is estimated around $1.28 billion. He now enjoys helping the superstars of the future to reach the level of success that he, himself, has enjoyed.
4. Vince McMahon: $1.22 billion
Vince McMahon‘s net worth is $1.22 billion. He’s a former pro wrestler who is now the majority owner of the WWE. His father previously owned the WWE. He has made a great deal of his wealth from the WWE, but he also racked up the cash while he was a professional wrestler.
5. Michael Schumacher: $780 million
Michael Schumacher has a net worth of $780 million. He spent most of his career as a former race car driver. He won the title of Formula One driver during his career because he won seven of the races.
6. Tiger Woods: $740 million
Tiger Woods is an American pro golfer and perhaps the richest golfer in the world. For a long time, he held an almost perfect record which was originally broken after a losing streak. But he had already established himself as king of the “Tee,” and his net worth shows it, with an estimated net worth of $740 million.
7. Magic Johnson: $600 million
Magic Johnson, like Michael Jordan, is a retired NBA superstar. He played for the LA Lakers for 13 seasons. He won several awards over the course of his career and was eventually inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame. He was also known as a superstar player for his ability to shoot the ball from several yards away on the court. His estimated net worth is around $600 million.
8. Roger Staubach: $600 million
Roger Staubach played for the Dallas Cowboys in 1969 and continued playing for them through 11 seasons. He went through five Super Bowls with Dallas with four of them featuring Staubach as the quarterback. He is considered one of the best professional football players of all times. His net worth is estimated around $600 million.
9. Floyd Mayweather: $560 million
Floyd Mayweather is worth $560 million. He has a perfect undefeated record of 50-0. Perhaps the only reason he is retired is that people stopped wanting to risk going up against him. He’s the founder of Mayweather Promotions which promotes the boxing industry.
10. Eddie Jordon: $475 million
Eddie Jordon is an Irish race car driver as well as a TV personality and businessman. He was the winner of the Irish Kart Championship in 1971, and he founded the Jordan Grand Prix. His net worth is $475 million.
11. David Beckham: $450 million
David Beckham has a current net worth of $450 million. He earned much of his wealth playing football for the Manchester United team and the England National team. But his list of teams that he played for is extensive. The movie, “Bend it Like Beckham” was created with Beckham in mind to inspire other football players to greatness.
12. Roger Federer: $450 million
Roger Federer is a professional tennis player from Switzerland. He ranked 3rd in the world in men’s singles tennis, and he ranked #1 for six years in a row. He also won 19 grand slams, helping bring him up to the status of the superstar in the world of tennis. His net worth is around $450 million.
13. Cristiano Ronaldo: $400 million
Cristiano Ronaldo‘s current net worth is $400 million. He is from Portugal and made his name as a pro footballer who played for the Portuguese National team and others. He is considered the best player in the football world by some experts but his chief competitor, Lionel Messi, keeps him humble at times. They both received the “Player of the Year” award for excellence.
14. LeBron James: $400 million
LeBron James played for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA for many years. He is thought of as one of the biggest NBA stars in the business and his net worth of $400 million echoes this fact.
15. Michael Buffer: $400 million
Michael Buffer is a ring announcer (MC) for the professional wrestling organization. He is known most for his introductory phrase, “Let’s get ready to rumble!” that he says at the beginning of each competition. Years of announcing these contests have paid off, and his net worth is estimated at $400 million.
16. Shaquille O’Neal: $400 million
Shaquille O’Neal (“Shaq” to his friends), is another NBA basketball superstar who performed amazing feats on the court to the amazement of his fans. Shaq is a giant literally as he is figuratively in the sport of basketball. His height of 7ft, 1 inches, also brought him a lot of attention and helped him master the game.
17. Bud Selig: $375 million
Bud Selig is the current Commissioner of the MLB league and the founder of the Milwaukee Brewers. He has made his wealth by supporting various teams and dealing with changes that needed to be made in the organization to be fair to all players and to help create contracts. Bud’s net worth is $375 million.
18. Phil Mickelson: $375 million
Phil Mickelson has a net worth of $375 million. He is a professional golfer for the PGA and has won a total of 42 events on the PGA Tour. Golf does pay well. Phil has accumulated $375 million in wealth chasing the little white ball.
19. Kobe Bryant: $350 million
Kobe Bryant has an estimated net worth of $350 million. He played his entire basketball career with the LA Lakers and held the record for the longest contract with one team. He is also a businessman and entrepreneur and is pursuing other interests as well. His net worth is currently estimated at $350 million.
20. Lionel Messi: $280 million
Lionel Messi has a current net worth of $280 million. He is an Argentine-born pro football player who plays for the Barcelona FC and the Argentina National teams. He was awarded the title of “Player of the Year” more than once.
21. Jack Nicklaus: $320 million
Jack Nicklaus‘s name is synonymous with golf, and he’s been nicknamed, “The Golden Bear.” He is now retired. But during the span of his career, he has won 18 world golfing championships. His technique makes the game look easy and effortless, but he has put years of hard work into perfecting his game. His net worth is around $320 million. His net worth is around $320 million.
22. Kevin Durant: $60.6 million
While Kevin Durant may not have matched up to some of the higher-paid athletes mentioned previously, his net worth of $60.6 million is nothing to sneeze about. He played professional basketball for the Golden State Warrior in the NBA, and this helped him add to his wealth over the years. Standing at 6ft., 11 in., he draws attention whether he’s on the court or in a crowd.
23. Stephen Curry: $47.3 million
Stephen Curry played professional basketball for the Golden State Warriors in the NBA. He has been called the greatest basketball shooter in history by some experts in the field. Regardless of whether he is or not, he has amazed both team managers and fans for years due to his ability to win a game in the last few seconds and to inspire his team to victory. His full name is Wardell Stephen Curry, and his net worth is estimated around $47.3 million.
24. James Harden: $46.6 million
One position down from Curry is James Harden. His net worth is only $47.7 million, but that’s not bad. Harden has one of the largest sports contracts issued to a player that is valued at $228,000,000. It’s no wonder that so many young people aspire to get into the game of professional sports. Of course, he hasn’t kept all of this money. But his net worth is still admirable. Harden played for the Houston Rockets in the NBA for years, and the Houston team is the one that offered him such a large contract.
25. Lewis Hamilton: $46 million
Lewis Hamilton has a current net worth of $46 million. He is a British race car driver, and he has raced in the Formula One for the Mercedes AMG team. His lightning speed has won him the title of the favorite driver by his fans. Hamilton enjoys his status as he continues to rack up the trophies and you can feel his spirit in every competition as he soars, once again, to the finish line.
Are they in it for the Money?
With so much wealth being paid out to these famous athletes, the question arises, “Are they in it for the money?” Perhaps some of them did get into the game for the potential pay, and they have certainly reached this goal. But professional athletes give their time, their youth, and their complete dedication to their careers. This takes an extreme passion for the game, so it’s unlikely that they entered the professional for the money alone.
Many athletes enter the game “for the love of the game” never knowing how much they might be worth in the future if they become the best. Perhaps knowing that they have achieved “superstar” status is enough for many of these professional athletes.
Whatever their motivation, for those who do become the best, it certainly pays off for them if they persevere and focus on the talents that made them so special, to begin with. They may have varying degrees of wealth, they may drive different types of cars, live different lifestyles, and have different life philosophies. But one thing they have in common is the level of greatness that they have all achieved. Their unique talents have brought them “superstar” fame and status with even the toughest of critics in the sports arena. They are stars in their rites, and they inspire and motivate others who hope to have just a chance to fill their shoes.
In the end, it’s not just about the money. Athletes who mete up to the status of a multi-million dollar paid sports figures have achieved greatness in one way or the other.
They are rewarded with fans, fame, and wealth and perhaps a place in the sun in the archives of sports history. And that is, perhaps, even better than wealth.