20 Athletes Who Have Used Their Athlete Money for Good

20 Athletes Who Have Used Their Athlete Money for Good

As sports leagues around the world continue to grow more popular, profitable, and valuable, it can only mean one thing – star athletes are cashing in on that athlete money. And when you look at some of the contracts being signed in the sports community today, you’ll have proof. 

For example, Aaron Rodgers just signed a contract that will pay him over $50 million next year. Max Scherzer of the MLB is making over $43 million this year, there are 10 players in the NBA that made over $39 million this year, and Connor McDavid of the NHL makes over $15 million.

You also have to consider the amount of money boxers and mixed martial artists receive. For those that receive the money fight, there can be several million dollars up for grabs – sometimes even several hundred million dollars (Floyd Mayweather made more than $275 million in 2015). 

RELATED: 15 Athletes With Incredible Stories

Real Examples of Athlete Money Going to Good Use

20 Athletes Who Have Used Their Athlete Money for Good
Sandra Foyt / Shutterstock

Athletes are making some insane money these days and while a lot of it goes toward their expensive and luxurious lifestyle, they do their part in regards to giving back and helping the community. They understand that big money comes with big responsibilities and expectations.

Every day, we hear new stories about athletes donating to charity, volunteering their time, and helping out those that need it most. It’s not just something we see when tragedies happen or natural disasters occur, but it’s something that happens on the regular when it’s least expected.

Of all the athletes known for their charitable donations and philanthropic efforts, we’re going to go over 20 of the most notable. They might come from different backgrounds and play different sports, but they all share one thing in common – their extreme level of love and care for others. 

20. Ronda Rousey

Ronda Rousey is known for her charity work and donations. For example, she once donated $30,000 to Instituto Recao, a judo school in Brazil, in March of 2015. Several months later, she donated her UFC 190 championship belt to the school, where it has called home ever since. 

Rousey is one of the greatest female MMA fighters of all-time. She finished her career with a 12-2-0 record inside the octagon – which included nine submissions and three knockouts. She was the inaugural UFC bantamweight champion and defended her title a total of six times. 

19. John Cena

John Cena loves spending quality time with children through the Make a Wish Foundation, but he also donates money when he feels necessary. In 2020, he donated an unnamed amount to the Black Lives Matter movement through the BTS ARMY’s ‘Match a Million’ movement. 

Cena is one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all-time, but he has also found success as an actor – which is more what he’s focusing on now. He’s a 16-time world champion – a joint record for most all-time – and has won 13 WWE Championship – another all-time record. 

18. Carlos Beltran

Carlos Beltran is a native Puerto Rican and when a hurricane devastated the Caribbean, he created a fundraising campaign to provide hurricane relief to areas that needed it most. Him and his wife spearheaded the fundraiser with an initial donation of $1 million – a hefty donation. 

Beltran spent 20 years in the major leagues – mostly with the Royals, Yankees, and Mets. He finished his career with a .279 batting average, 2,725 hits, 435 home runs, 1,587 runs batted in, and 1,582 runs scored. He won the 2017 World Series and was a former Rookie of the Year. 

17. Curtis Granderson

Curtis Granderson founded the Grand Kids Foundation over 15 years ago and it has raised over 40 million meals to those in need. He also once made a personal donation of 42,000 meals to honor Jackie Robinson and a $5 million donation for a new University of Illinois stadium.

Granderson spent 16 seasons in the major leagues – mostly with the Tigers, Yankees, and Mets. He finished his career with a .249 batting average, 1,800 hits, 344 home runs, 937 runs batted in, and 1,217 runs scored. He’s a three-time All-Star and won one Silver Slugger award.

16. Larry Fitzgerald

Aside from his The Larry Fitzgerald Foundation, Larry Fitzgerald is known for his generous ways and giving back. In 2020, he donated $120,000 to Valley Boys & Girls Clubs. He also donated $0.25/new follower, $1,000/rec, and $10,000/TD for the entire month of October in 2013.

Fitzgerald spent 17 seasons in the NFL – all of which with the Arizona Cardinals. He finished his career with 1,432 receptions, 121 touchdowns, and 17,492 receiving yards. He was an 11-time Pro Bowler, one-time All-Pro player, and won the 2016 Walter Payton Man of the Year award.

15. Chris Long

Through the Chris Long Foundation, Chris Long donated his entire 2017 salary to educational charities in the three cities he has played for throughout his career. The total donation came out to $1 million and he donated another $625,000 (a quarter of his salary) to charity in 2018. 

Chris Long spent 11 seasons in the NFL with the St. Louis Rams, New England Patriots, and Philadelphia Eagles. He retired with 332 tackles, 85 tackles for loss, 70.0 sacks, 15 forced fumbles, 6 fumble recoveries, and one defensive TD. He was a two-time Super Bowl champ. 

14. Thabo Sefolosha

In 2015, Thabo Sefolosha was a victim of police brutality after being arrested outside of a club. He sued New York City and was awarded roughly $4 million when he won the lawsuit. He ended up donating a significant portion of that $4 million to an organization that trains public defenders

Sefolosha spent 14 years in the NBA, mostly with the Bulls, Hawks, and Thunder. He finished his career with 5.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.1 steals, and 0.4 blocks in 21.9 minutes per game. He had his best stint with the Oklahoma City Thunder between 2009 and 2014. 

13. Yuna Kim

Yuna Kim is not only a goodwill ambassador to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), but she has donated over 3.1 billion won (around $2.67 milloin) to different charities and non-profit organizations (as of 2015). She’s one of the most charitable athletes in the world. 

Kim is a former Olympic figure skater that represented South Korea in the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics – where she won a gold medal and silver medal. She also won two golds, two silvers, and two bronzes at the World Championships and three more gold medals at the Grand Prix. 

12. Russell Wilson

Russell Wilson is one of the most respected athletes. Along with his wife, Ciara, they’re always giving back – including one million meals to Food Lifeline in 2020, a donation of $1,060,005 to Strong Against Cancer in 2016, and $2 million to Washington Charter School in 2020. 

Wilson has spent the past 10 seasons in the NFL – all of which with the Seattle Seahawks. He has thrown for 37,059 yards, 292 touchdowns, and 87 interceptions, and ran for 4,689 yards and 23 touchdowns. He’s looking to win his second career title in his first season with his new team.

11. Roger Federer

Roger Federer has always been a man of the people and he has proved it time and again through his Roger Federer Foundation, which he founded in 2003. He continued to prove his goodwill with a $500,000 donation to continued schooling for Ukrainian children in March 2022. 

Federer is one of the greatest tennis players of all-time. He has a 1,251-275 career singles record (103 titles) and 131-92 career doubles record (8 titles). He won a total of 20 Grand Slam tournaments – including the Wimbledon a record eight times and the Australian Open six times. 

10. Andre Agassi

Not only did Andre Agassi found the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas in 2001, but six years later he helped co-found Athletes for Hope to help athletes get involved in charitable causes. He also donates frequently, including $250,000 to CORE Academy in 2021

Agassi is one of the greatest, most-recognizable tennis players of all-time. He turned pro in 1986 and retired in 2006 with a 870-274 singles record (60 titles) and a 40-42 doubles record (one title). He won eight Grand Slam tournaments, including four wins at the Australian Open. 

9. Dikembe Mutombo

Dikembe Mutombo grew up in Congo and helped pave the way for many African basketball players today. He founded the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation to help improve living conditions in his home country and donated millions to build the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital in Congo.

Mutombo spent 18 years in the NBA and had himself a Hall of Fame career. He retired with 9.8 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.4 steals, and 2.8 blocks per game. He was a four-time Defensive Player of the Year, led the league in blocks three times, and in rebounds twice. 

8. Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods has earned over $120 million on the PGA Tour, but he’s generous with it. Since 1999, all winnings from the Chevron World Challenge, Deutsche Bank Championship, and AT&T National tournaments have gone to his TGR Foundation – totaling over $12 million in donations. 

Woods is one of the greatest golfers of all-time, turning professional in 1996 and continuing his success to this day. He’s tied for first all-time with 82 PGA Tour wins (110 professional wins) and ranks second all-time with 15 major championships. He has won the Masters five times.

7. Drew Brees

Drew Brees has done a lot for the state of Louisiana and city of New Orleans. In 2012, he donated a total of $3 million for Superstorm Sandy relief efforts. He also donated $10 million to help the area get through the COVID-19 pandemic – all through his Brees Dream Foundation.

Brees spent 20 seasons in the NFL with the San Diego Chargers and New Orleans Saints. He finished his career with a 172-114-0 record and threw for 80,358 yards, 571 touchdowns, and 243 interceptions. He won the Super Bowl once and was Offensive Player of the Year twice.

6. Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the highest-earning soccer players of all-time. In fact, he once auctioned off his Golden Boot award for $1.5 million and donated the money to build multiple schools in Gaza. He has done this multiple times with different awards and prize money. 

Ronaldo has spent the past 20+ years making a name for himself on the football field. He has played for some of the biggest teams in football, including Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Juventus. He has scored 698 career goals and assisted on 230 more in 933 career matches. 

5. LeBron James

LeBron James does more than use his platform to demand change, but he literally enacts change through his LeBron James Family Foundation – which has helped build the I Promise School in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. He has also donated millions of dollars to charities.

James is one of the greatest basketball players of all-time. He will be entering his 20th season in the NBA and has averaged 27.1 points, 7.5 rebounds, 7.4 assists, 1.6 steals, and 0.8 blocks per game. He’s a four-time champion, a four-time MVP, four-time Finals MVP, and 18-time All-Star. 

4. J.J. Watt

J.J. Watt takes his charitable efforts seriously and puts it on display often in his community. He has helped raise millions through his JJ Watt Foundation, including $41 million for Hurricane Harvey relief in 2017. He also paid for the victim’s funerals after the Santa Fe school shooting. 

Watt will be entering his 12th season in the NFL – spending 10 seasons with the Houston Texans and one with the Arizona Cardinals. He’s a three-time Defensive Player of the Year with 102.0 career sacks, 177 tackles for loss, 26 forced fumbles, and three defensive touchdowns.

3. Shaquille O’Neal

Shaquille O’Neal seems to make headlines with his donations every week. For example, he once donated 1,000 PS5 and 1,000 Nintendo Switch consoles to underprivileged kids recently. A lot of his charitable efforts are personal, one-on-one interactions with some of his biggest fans. 

O’Neal spent 19 seasons in the NBA – mostly with the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, and Orlando Magic. He averaged 23.7 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 0.6 steals, and 2.3 blocks per game. He was a four-time champion, one-time MVP, and two-time scoring champion. 

2. Serena Williams

Much like Yuna Kim, Serena Williams is a goodwill ambassador to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and donates to charities regularly. She once donated over 4 million masks to schools and donated $1 million to help build a tennis complex.

Williams is one of the greatest female tennis players ever. She turned pro in 1995 and continues to play to this day, though she’s in the backend of her career. She has a career 855-152 singles record (73 titles), 23 Grand Slam tournament wins, and over $94 million in career earnings. 

1. Roberto Clemente

In 1972, a massive earthquake occurred in Nicaragua that killed between 4,000 and 11,000 people, injured another 20,000 people, and left more than 300,000 residents homeless. Roberto Clemente, a Hall of Fame baseball player, decided to fly out there to deliver humanitarian aid

En route to Nicaragua, the cargo plane he was traveling in crashed and killed all five people aboard – including Clemente. It brought a sudden end to an 18-year MLB career that included 240 home runs, 1,305 runs batted in, and 1,416 runs scored in 2,433 career games played. 

As Athletes Grow Richer, So Do Their Charitable Efforts

At the beginning of this article, we listed some of the highest-earning athletes in their respective sport. What’s crazy about the sports world today is that those names will likely change by next year because contracts seem to increase annually – they just keep getting bigger and bigger.

As the contracts grow larger, so will the donations and the charitable effort. It’s a good thing because there are millions of people out there that rely on those donations and it’s something that reciprocates as more people join in on the donations, volunteering, and charitable help. 

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: 15 Famous Athletes Who Do More Than Just Play Sports

If you’ve got the charitable bug after reading this post, take action and donate to a local charity that you believe in – even if it’s just $5 because every dollar counts. If you don’t have money, you can always donate your time by volunteering at a non-profit organization that needs help.

About At The Buzzer

At The Buzzer, or ATB is the place for those who love sports, life, family, community, and so much more. We are far from the run-of-the-mill 24/7 sports news websites. We not only bring you what’s happening in the world of sports in terms of trades and breaking news, but we also bring you the news that goes on behind the scenes, like big life moments, and so much more. So take a minute and read one of our articles, we promise you won't regret it.