What sport makes the most money? 

What sport makes the most money? 

Sports have always played a significant role in people’s everyday lives. Since ancient times, sports have been used for entertainment and preparing for war and combat. The first-ever Olympics was held in 776 BC and the winning title came with great honor in front of the Gods, and wealth.

Nowadays sports is still one of the leading entertainment sources in our modern world. There are high expectations in professional sports, particularly in terms of physical requirements and discipline. Top athletes earn millions of dollars a year from sports, but they are also highly lucrative.

Top 15 highest-paid professional sports in the world

Athletes from all around the world compete in these huge sporting events, which are organized by many nations and cost billions of dollars to put on, like the last Olympics held in Tokyo. Competing and earning well in the sports industry is a dream come true, but it is incredibly hard because it comes with not only years of hard work but talent and perseverance.  

What sport generates the biggest single source in that sense? In this article, we will go through the top 10 highest-paid sports. 


At number one comes basketball. The NBA, which consists of 30 teams, is the most well-known and wealthiest basketball league in the world. It is most popular in the USA and Canada,  but it is well-known all around the world.

Basketball was created in 1891 by a Canadian professor of physical education but got its true attention in the 1970s when they started paying very high amounts. Basketball is also well-known for the heights of the players. An average height of a Basketball player in the NBA is about 6ft 7 inches. Reaching the NBA level is the highest title for a basketball player where players on average make millions.

The highest-paid former NBA player is Michael Jordan who made $343 million in a year. Besides Michael Jordan, the basketball field has produced many great players including LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, etc.


Boxing has been around for a long time. Longer than any of the sports mentioned here. It was first played more than 2700 years ago and it played a major role in preparing warriors for battle. Boxing is extremely popular in the USA, Asia, Europe, and Africa.

The two participants are put into combat with each other and the stronger and more skilled athlete wins. Various competitions and matchups have brought in a significant amount of money for many well-known boxers. Some of the most well-known boxers in history are Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, and Floyd Mayweather.

Through sponsorship deals, wagering, and pay-per-view commissions, boxing athletes earn enormous sums of money. The Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao fight was the most viewed and well-liked boxing battle in history. After that Floyd became one of the most well-paid and well-known athletes in the world. He was paid an unbelievable amount of $333 million and has a net worth of $450 million.


American football, also known as football is a popular sport in the USA. It is not to be confused with soccer because the rules and the aim of the game are completely different.

Next to basketball, football is one of the most-watched sports in the USA and the National Football League (NFL) has built a huge fan base around itself, composed of 32 teams that are the most popular. Lots of professional football players’ goals and dreams are to be in the NFL where they will be guaranteed a hefty salary.

The highest-paid footballer was Roger Staubach, a former American football star who earned $253 million annually. Even though NFL is exclusively viewed in the USA, it is one of the most popular leagues worldwide. 


Golf originated in the 15th century in Scotland. It was played by the nobles and later gained popularity in the US and Europe. Unlike most ball games Golf does not use a standardized playing area. Courses have usually 18 or 9 holes. Learning this sport is not hard, takes a few practices to get the right aim, but mastering it is a different story that requires skill and talent. Golf is a very profitable sport, with a $2 million annual average wage. High earners, though, can earn more than $100 million annually. Amongst golfers, Tiger Wood is the richest with an estimated net worth of  $800 million. Woods was ranked 11 times in the Forbes List of Richest players.


Out of all soccer is considered one of the most popular and known sports. People all around the world watch it on a regular basis and during the World Cup all the participating countries root together. Having more than 4 billion fans around the world soccer has become the 5th most popular sport in the world. Football players are also among the highest-paid athletes in the world.

The richest soccer player in the world is a Portuguese professional named Cristiano Ronaldo, who has a net worth of over $1 billion and in 2022 made a total earning of $200 million.  


With millions of spectators worldwide, tennis is one of the most popular sports and the sixth-highest-paid sport in the world. It is regarded as one of the most difficult sports in the world, with significant physical and mental demands both on and off the court. Therefore, it is not surprising that the majority of individuals play it mostly for entertainment. Tennis is, nonetheless, a highly lucrative career, with the top players earning millions of dollars annually. US Open, French Open, and Grand Slams are the most popular tournaments in tennis.

Tennis is also popular for women with one of the highest-paid female players Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams. In 2020, the highest-paid tennis player in the world was Roger Federer, with an income of $90 million. 

Ice Hockey 

Another top sport (mostly in the US) is Ice Hockey. Its aggressive nature and adrenaline rush makes it popular amongst everyday folks. People love to see the speed and collision of two teams trying to fight for the puck in a skating rink.

Just like in soccer and football, the main task is to get as many goals in the other team’s gateway. A player in ice hockey with the highest salary makes almost $99 million a year. Ice Hockey is the national winter sport of Canada and is also popular in the USA, Russia, and Australia.

The National Hockey League (NHL) is the most powerful professional ice hockey league in the world, and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) oversees the sport. With a net worth of $250 million, legendary Canadian player Wayne Gretzky is the richest player in ice hockey.


Next to feature in the list of the world’s highest-paid sports is baseball which is managed by the International Baseball Federation (IBF). It is very popular in the USA, Japan, and South Korea. The biggest and most well-known baseball league in the world is known as Major League Baseball (MLB). Alex Rodriguez or A-Rod is the highest-paid baseball player with a net worth of $400 million. 

Auto Racing

Auto Racing is a very popular sport all over the globe from Australia to Asia, Europe and the States. The International Automobile Federation (FIA) is the governing body of auto racing. Part-taking in auto racing requires fast reflexes and training from a very young age. With the invention of automobiles, it has spread around the world like wildfire with its exciting and action-packed tournaments.

People reached new speeds with automobiles that rose in attention and popularity for this sport. With an estimated net worth of $800 million, former German racer Michael Schumacher is the richest person involved in auto racing. Michael now holds the unbroken record for both the most races won in a season and the fastest laps completed.

NASCAR is also an honorable mention in this list and the auto racing world because it has a big fanbase that provides an immense salary to its racers. 

Cycling Cycling is a sport that anyone can start. The outdoor world around is your training ground and you just need to give in the time to start training. But making it in the big game needs strong willpower and endurance. Cycling pioneer Charles Minthorn Murphy completed a mile in under one minute in 1899.

He earned the nickname “Mile-a-Minute Murphy” after that event. Since then cycling has gained huge popularity in our society. Numerous cycling competitions (e.g. Tour de France) are hosted all over the world and are regarded as some of the most paid competitions.

Lance Armstrong, a famous cyclist, earned a total of $28 million in 2010, placing him in ninth place on Forbes’ list of the world’s wealthiest athletes. In 2022, Lance was among the highest-paid athletes.

All in all, it takes talent, hard work, and dedication to make it to these levels. Hopefully, you got a better insight into the best-paying sports in the world but besides the mentioned above there are numerous other sports that make a great impact in our world and provide a huge salary.

These are swimming, gymnastics, running, cricket, rugby, volleyball, etc.

Interesting Facts about the best-paid sports

lots of money

  • While basketball and football players are among the highest-paid athletes in the world, female athletes earn significantly less than their male counterparts in most sports. The highest-paid female athlete currently is Naomi Osaka, who earned $60 million in 2021 from endorsements and tournament winnings.
  • The average salary for a professional athlete in the United States is around $80,000 per year, but top athletes can earn millions of dollars per year. The highest-paid athletes often earn the majority of their income from endorsements rather than their salaries.
  • The highest-paid sports team in the world currently is the Dallas Cowboys, with a value of $6.5 billion. The team’s owner, Jerry Jones, has a net worth of $8.6 billion.
  • The highest-paid sports leagues in the world are the NFL, MLB, NBA, Premier League, and La Liga. These leagues generate billions of dollars in revenue each year from broadcasting rights, ticket sales, and merchandise sales.
  • Some athletes have made significant investments outside of their sports careers, including LeBron James, who has invested in several businesses and is estimated to be worth over $1 billion. Tennis player Serena Williams has also invested in several companies, including the dating app Bumble.

Final Remarks

It’s worth noting that while these sports offer high salaries and endorsements for the top athletes, the vast majority of professional athletes in these sports do not earn anywhere near the same amount. The top earners are typically the most successful and marketable athletes who have built a strong personal brand and are in high demand from sponsors and advertisers.

In addition to their salaries and endorsements, many of these athletes also earn money from other sources, such as investments, businesses, and social media.

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