According to Forbes, LeBron James is officially one of the few billionaire athletes with over $1.2 billion in pre-tax earnings. Roughly $385 million has come from basketball, while over $900 million has come from endorsements and investments. He made over $120 million last year.
As the NBA’s highest-earning player, his $385 million shows young athletes what’s possible when you give your all to the sport – and with contracts getting richer, it will be easy to surpass in the future. With that said, it’s his $900 million off the court that separates him from the pack.
Further breaking down that $900+ million, Forbes estimates that James has made roughly $300 million from The Spring Hill Company, $90 million from Fenway Sports Group, $80 million in real estate, $30 million from Blaze Pizza, and more than $500 million in other cash and investments.
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Other Billionaire Athletes to Achieve the Rare Status
Becoming a billionaire, no matter your profession, is an extremely difficult feat to achieve. Did you know there are only 2,668 billionaires in the world and they’re worth a combined $12.7 trillion? For reference, there are roughly 2,800 people in the world that stand above 7-feet tall.
LeBron James isn’t one of the select few above seven feet tall – he’s only 6-foot-9 – but he is one of the select few that can call themselves a billionaire. It’s not easy and it takes a lot of success – both on and off the court. Of course, those are two things James excels at.
With that said, you’re probably wondering what that list of billionaire athletes looks like – it’s not that long, but it has some of the wealthiest people in the world and they’ve proven that athletes can become successful in a variety of industries – they’re much more than just athletes.
12. Michael Schumacher
Michael Schumacher is one of the greatest Formula 1 drivers of all-time. He made his debut in 1991, recorded his first win in 1991, and went on to win 91 times in his career. He won seven championships, a joint record with Lewis Hamilton, and five-straight between 2000 and 2005.
According to Forbes, Schumacher earned $1 billion in his career and was one of the world’s first billionaire athletes. Unfortunately, he was involved in a tragic skiing accident in 2013 that left him in a medically-induced coma with brain damage. Schumacher is still recovering to this day.
11. Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson has been under heavy criticism as of late, but let’s not forget he’s one of the richest athletes of all-time. He was already worth over $800 million in 2021, but then he sold three private and three public golf courses – bringing him well above the $1 billion mark.
Not only that, but he allegedly recently signed a $200 million contract with LIV Golf – meaning his wealth will continue to increase, despite his criticism as of late. Mickelson turned pro in 1992 and has 57 career wins, including 45 wins on the PGA Tour and six major championships.
10. Jack Nicklaus
Staying in the realm of golf, Jack Nicklaus is one of the greatest of all-time and while he made a lot of money playing golf, he made even more designing golf courses. Forbes estimated his career earnings at $1.15 billion in 2016, largely due to the 400 courses his firm had designed.
As a player, Nicklaus attended Ohio State University and turned professional in 1961. He has 117 career wins – 73 came on the PGA Tour. He won 18 major championships, which included six Masters, five PGA Championships, four U.S. Opens, and three The Open Championships.
9. Arnold Palmer
Our third golfer on this list is Arnold Palmer, who’s career earnings were estimated at $1.35 billion by Forbes in 2016 – the same year he passed away. While he made a lot of money on the golf course, he made even more with 500 stores in Asia and the beloved Arnold Palmer drink.
As a player, Palmer attended Wake Forest College and turned professional in 1954. He retired with 95 career wins – 62 of which came on the PGA Tour. He also won a total of seven major championships, including four Masters, two The Open Championships, and one U.S. Open.
8. Roger Federer
Roger Federer became the first ever tennis billionaire in 2020 and it showed just how far the tennis industry has grown – especially for the players. With over $130 million in career tennis earnings, he has made over $900 million in sponsorships, investments, and endorsements.
Federer has been ranked No. 1 in the world a total of 309 weeks in his career, including 237 consecutive weeks – a record that still stands today. He was the year-end No. 1 player five times, has a career 1,251-275 singles record, and has won 20 Grand Slam tournaments.
7. Lionel Messi
Moving on to soccer, let’s talk about Lionel Messi – arguably the greatest the game has ever seen. He surpassed the $1 billion mark in career earnings back in 2020 and has continued to make $130+ million per year ever since. He has shown no signs of stopping anytime soon.
In addition to becoming the sport’s second-ever billionaire, Messi has played in 812 career games. He has recorded 683 goals and 318 assists in his career with Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain. He had a down year in terms of production, but he’ll work his way back to form.
6. Cristiano Ronaldo
When we said Messi was arguably the greatest the game has ever seen, Cristiano Ronaldo is the argument – case and point. He became the sport’s first billionaire in 2020, made around $125 million in 2021, and set for another $115 million in 2021. He’s basically a walking bank.
Ronaldo has spent a majority of his senior career with Manchester United, Juventus, and Real Madrid – as well as Portugal. He has played in 933 career senior matches, scoring 698 goals and dishing 230 assists in those games. He’s also a five-time Ballon d’Or award winner.
5. Floyd Mayweather
They don’t call him Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather for nothing. In 2018, towards the end of his career, he was the highest-earning athlete with around $285 million made. He even personally claimed to be a billionaire with over $1.2 million made in his career during an interview.
Mayweather turned pro in 1996 after winning a bronze medal in the 2016 Olympics. He went on to have a legendary pro career that lasted more than 20 years and included an undefeated 50-0 record (27 knockouts). His defense was some of the best we’ve ever seen, but he can also hit.
4. Anna Kasprzak
Anna Kasprzak is a name most people won’t recognize on this list, but she’s estimated to be worth over $1.3 billion – largely thanks to her owning ECCO, a Danish shoe manufacturer, with her brother and mother. She has also made some money as an equestrian (dressage rider).
Kasprzak, who is only 32 years old, represented Denmark in two consecutive Olympic Games – 2012 and 2016. While she never medaled, she did place fourth in the team event in 2012. She also won a silver medal in the team dressage discipline at the 2017 European Championships.
3. Ion Tiriac
Ion Tiriac is another name most people won’t recognize, but he’s estimated to be worth over $1.5 billion as of 2022. While he made a little bit of money as a pro tennis athlete, a majority of his earnings have come from his interests in real estate, auto, and financial services.
As a tennis player, Tiriac had most of his success in doubles – a 294-141 record with 22 titles and one Grand Slam. He has coached some of the game’s best, including Boris Becker, Marat Safin, and Guillermo Villas. He was also a renowned ping pong star and Olympic ice hockey player.
2. Tiger Woods
Alright, back to some billionaire athletes that we know – Tiger Woods recently made a special return to golf following a tragic car accident. He’s the game’s richest player and became a billionaire in 2009. According to Forbes, he has made over $1.7 billion in career earnings.
Woods turned professional in 1996 and hasn’t looked back ever since. He has 110 wins to his name, 82 of which on the PGA Tour. He has also won 15 major championships, the second most all-time, including five Masters Tournament wins and four PGA Championship wins.
1. Michael Jordan
No athlete has ever made more money than Michael Jordan – the man, the myth, the legend. While he only made a little over $94 million during his time in the NBA, his marketability and investments have earned him just under $2 billion. He’s currently the owner of the Hornets.
Jordan is one of the NBA’s greatest players ever. He spent 15 years in the NBA, leading the league in scoring 10 times and steals three times. He was a six-time champion, five-time MVP, and former Defensive Player of the Year that averaged more than 30 points per game in his career.
Future Billionaire Athletes to Keep an Eye On
In 2014, the same year Michael Jordan joined the list of billionaire athletes, LeBron James said, “Obviously I want to maximize my business. And if I happen to get it, if I happen to be a billion dollar athlete, ho. Hip hip hooray! Oh, my God, I’m gonna be excited,” in an interview with GQ.
Not even a decade later, James has reached the milestone himself and joins a small list of billionaire athletes to do so. While that makes him the first active basketball player to reach the status and the first athlete in 2022, he won’t be the last and might not even be the last this year.
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Some soon-to-be billionaire athletes that are projected to reach the status (either soon or in the future) include Serena Williams, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Lewis Hamilton, Mike Trout, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Neymar, Patrick Mahomes, Canelo Alvarez, and Tom Brady.
LeBron James Net Worth and 20 Other Athletes Who Compare
We all know that LeBron James has a lot of money, but have you seen what LeBron James net worth is in 2022? It’s nowhere close to the $300 billion net worth of Elon Musk or $200 billion net worth of Jeff Bezos, but LeBron is quickly climbing up the list of richest athletes in the world.
James rose to stardom at an early age, showcasing his basketball talent at St. Vincent–St. Mary High School at the beginning of the century. He decided to forego college and went straight to the NBA out of high school – the Cleveland Cavaliers selected him first overall in 2003.
Over the past 19 years, James has positioned himself as one of the greatest basketball players and most influential athletes ever. He appeared in 10 NBA Finals, including eight consecutive from 2011-2018 – winning four championships, four MVPs, and four Finals MVPs along the way.
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What Is LeBron James Net Worth in 2022?
Being the greatest basketball player of his generation over the past two decades, LeBron James net worth has continued to grow every single year. He has made hundreds of millions on the court, but also made hundreds of millions off the court – and continues to do so to this day.
As of January 2022, LeBron James net worth is estimated to be $600-$850 million. He set a financial milestone last year when he topped $1 billion in career earnings – $400 million on the court and $600 million off the court. Of course, that number doesn’t account for taxes and fees.
That number puts him in elite company among athletes – especially basketball players. Michael Jordan is the only basketball player to ever have a net worth above $1 billion and LeBron James will likely be the second, but how does LeBron James net worth compare to other athletes?
Well, let’s take a look!
20. Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton has an estimated net worth of $300 million in 2022. He began racing at an early age, joining the McLaren young driver programme in the late-1990s. By 2007, he was a Formula One racer for Mercedes and remained with the team for the next five years of his career.
Since 2013, Hamilton has raced for Mercedes and continues to dominate Formula One to this day. He has entered 288 Grands Prix, accumulating 4,165.5 points, 182 podiums, and seven world championships over his career. He helped Formula One reach a broader audience.
19. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has an estimated net worth of $300 million in 2022. He followed in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps, dominating the NASCAR scene for nearly two decades. He’s a two-time Daytona 500 winner, earning the nickname ‘Pied Piper’ for his success there.
Throughout his 19-year career in the NASCAR Cup Series, Earnhardt Jr. took part in 631 races – finishing with 26 wins, 260 top-tens, and 15 poles. He currently owns JR Motorsports and competes part-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series – where he has 24 wins and 94 top-tens.
18. Alex Rodriguez
Alex Rodriguez has an estimated net worth of $350 million in 2022. He’s regarded as one of the greatest baseball players of all-time, but has added to his net worth through investments and endorsements. He spent 22 years in the MLB, primarily with the New York Yankees.
As a player, A-Rod had a .295 batting average with 696 home runs, 2,086 runs batted in, and 2,021 runs scored. He won three MVP awards in a five-year span, was a 14-time All-Star, one-time World Series champion, 10-time Silver Slugger, and two-time Gold Glove winner.
17. Michael Buffer
Michael Buffer has an estimated net worth of $400 million in 2022. Although he’s not an athlete, we felt adding him to this list was necessary – especially considering his influence on the boxing community. When you think of ring announcers, also known as an ‘MC,’ you think of Buffer.
Perhaps the main reason he’s on this list is because he trademarked his famous catchphrase, “Let’s get ready to rumble’ in the early-1990s. That trademark has earned him over $400 million over the past few decades. He continues to utilize his voice and trademark to this day.
16. Vinnie Johnson
Vinnie Johnson has an estimated net worth of $400 million in 2022. Nicknamed ‘The Microwave,’ Johnson is one of the greatest bench players in NBA history. He made some good money in the league, but also founded Piston Automotive in 1995 – which spurred his wealth.
He spent 13 seasons in the NBA and consistently averaged 10+ points per game, despite never starting more than 28 games in a season. He was a key member of the Detroit Pistons’ back-to-back championships in 1989 and 1990. He still serves as chairman of Piston Group.
15. Dwyane ‘The Rock’ Johnson
Dwyane ‘The Rock’ Johnson has an estimated net worth of $400 million in 2022. He originally aspired to be an NFL player, winning a national championship in college. While he went undrafted in 1995, he quickly started his professional wrestling career and flourished from there.
Not only did he become one of the greatest wrestlers of all-time, but he rose to fame as an actor and businessman as he started to step away from wrestling. Although you won’t see him wrestling today and he’s no longer an active athlete, he continues to increase his net worth.
14. Shaquille O’Neal
Shaquille O’Neal has an estimated net worth of $400 million in 2022. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest, most dominant big men in NBA history. He spent 19 years in the league and was a 15-time All-Star, two-time scoring champ, four-time NBA champ, and one-time MVP.
He made a ton of money during his playing days, but he didn’t let retirement stop him. He’s currently a sports analyst for Inside the NBA, has a long list of endorsement opportunities, has a reality TV show, and a wide range of other investments. He loves giving back to the community.
13. Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson has an estimated net worth of $400 million in 2022. He began playing golf as a child and excelled at the collegiate level before turning pro in 1992. That was nearly 30 years ago, but Mickelson is still playing. In fact, he won the 2021 PGA Championship at 50 years old.
Over his career, Mickelson has been in the top-50 for 25 years in a row – including more than 700 weeks in the top-ten. He has won six career majors, including three Masters, two PGA Championships, and one Open Championship. He’s a six-time runner-up in the U.S. Open.
12. Jack Nicklaus
Jack Nicklaus has an estimated net worth of $400 million in 2022. If you thought Mickelson’s career was legendary, it’s nothing compared to what Nicklaus achieved between 1961-2005. He’s one of the greatest golfers of all-time and has the third-most PGA wins all-time (73).
He played in 164 major championships and won a record 18 of them, including six Masters, five PGA Championships, four U.S. Opens, and three Open Championships. He continues to make money through Nicklaus Design, a leading golf course design and construction commpany.
11. Greg Norman
Greg Norman has an estimated net worth of $400 million in 2022. He’s the third golfer on this list and it goes to show how rich the golf community is. He, like Mikelson and Nicklaus, is regarded as one of the greatest golfers ever and spent 331 weeks ranked No. 1 in the world.
Throughout his career, Norman won 89 pro tournaments (20 PGA tournaments) and two major championships – the 1986 Open Championships and 1993 Open Championships. Norman also earned 30 top-ten finishes and eight runner-up finishes in major championships in his career.
10. Roger Federer
Roger Federer has an estimated net worth of $450 million in 2022. He’s not only one of the greatest tennis players of all-time, but he’s also one of the richest – THE richest, if you exclude Ion Tiriac. He has spent a total of 310 weeks as the No. 1 ranked player in the ATP rankings.
Federr was the year-end ATP No. 1 overall tennis player in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2009. He has a career record of 1,251-275 and has won 103 titles (second-most all-time) – including 20 grand slam wins, which is tied for the most all-time. He knew how to win and did it often.
9. David Beckham
David Beckham has an estimated net worth of $450 million in 2022. He’s a global icon and one of the most revered midfielders of all-time. He enjoyed an illustrious 20-year career, winning 19 major trophies and league titles in four different countries – England, Spain, U.S. and France.
After a career that included 265 appearances for Manchester United, 116 appearances for Real Madrid, and 115 appearances for England, Beckham continues to earn around $50 million per year. He’s currently the co-owner of two football clubs – Inter Miami CF and Salford City FC.
8. Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. has an estimated net worth of $450 million in 2022. He’s one of the greatest boxers of all-time and was known for his ability to dodge incoming punches. Mayweather Jr. had an amateur record of 84-8 and a professional record of 50-0.
In his prime, Floyd Mayweather Jr. was the highest paid athlete in the world. He was the money fight in boxing and drew record-breaking pay-per-view numbers almost every time he stepped foot in the ring. He continues to box today, though they’re exclusively exhibition bouts.
7. Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo has an estimated net worth of $500 million in 2022. He’s one of the biggest football stars of all-time, evidenced by his massive social media following and constantly growing net worth. He turned professional in 2002 and has dominated the sport ever since.
Between 2003-2009, Ronaldo scored 84 goals in 196 appearances with Manchester United. He then scored 311 goals in 292 appearances with Real Madrid from 2009-2018. He’s a five-time Ballon d’Or winner and has won 32 major trophies in his career. He has 115 international goals.
6. Junior Bridgeman
Junior Bridgeman has an estimated net worth of $600 million in 2022. He was drafted by the Lakers with the eighth overall pick in 1975, but was quickly dealt to the Bucks in a trade that sent Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to LA. Bridgeman scored 8.6 points per game his rookie season.
Over the next nine seasons, Bridgeman averaged at least 12.5 points per game each year. After retiring from basketball in 1987, he went on to own over 100 fast food restaurants, including dozens of Wendy’s and Chili’s. He turned what was a small fortune into a very large fortune.
5. Eddie Jordan
Eddie Jordan has an estimated net worth of $600 million in 2022. He began a career in banking before striking an interest in kart racing. He won the Irish Kart Championship in 1971 and spent time in Formula Ford, Irish Formula Ford Championship, Formula Three, and Formula Atlantic.
In 1979, Jordan created his first motorsport team and eventually founded Jordan Grand Prix in 1991, which competed in Formula 1. He eventually sold the team, began a career in media, and has continued to make money ever since. He’s currently an Formula One analyst for Channel 4.
4. Michael Schumacher
Michael Schumacher has an estimated net worth of $600 million in 2022. He’s one of the greatest Formula One drivers of all-time, alongside Lewis Hamilton (who we discussed earlier). Schumacher, tied with Hamilton, has won seven World Drivers’ Championship titles.
Throughout his 20+ career in racing, Schumacher competed for Jordan, Benetton, Ferrari, and Mercedes. Though his records have since been broken by Hamilton, Schumacher once held the all-time F1 records for most wins (91), podium finishes (155), and pole positions (68).
3. Roger Staubach
Roger Staubach has an estimated net worth of $600 million in 2022. He won the Heisman Trophy as quarterback of the U.S. Naval Academy in 1963 and joined the Dallas Cowboys in 1969 after serving in the Navy. He played his entire 11-year NFL career with the Cowboys.
In those 11 seasons, Staubach had a 85-29 record and threw for 22,700 yards, 153 touchdowns, and 109 interceptions. He made five Super Bowl appearances, winning two of them, and six Pro Bowl appearances. After retirement, he made a lot of money in real estate.
2. Magic Johnson
Magic Johnson has an estimated net worth of $600 million in 2022. He is arguably the greatest point guard of all-time, despite only playing 13 seasons in the NBA. He spent his entire career with the Los Angeles Lakers, winning five titles before being diagnosed with HIV in 1991.
As a player, Johnson was a 12-time All-Star, four-time assists champ, two-time steals champ, 10-time All-NBA player, two-time All-Star MVP, three-time Finals MVP, and three-time MVP. He has always been smart with his money and became quite the entrepreneur upon retirement.
1. Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi has an estimated net worth of $600 million in 2022. No football player has ever won more Ballon d’Or awards than Messi, having won seven over the course of his career. He has also won six European Golden Shoes – most all-time. He’s the greatest soccer player ever.
Messi turned professional in 2003 with Barcelona C and made it up to their main team by 2004. In 520 appearances from 2004-2021, Messi scored 474 goals for Barcelona and 80 goals for Argentina. He has won 49 major trophies over the past 20 years and continues to dominate.
Who Are the Richest Athletes In the World Today?
As you can see, there are quite a few athletes that have earned a lot of money throughout their respective careers. While none of the athletes above can match LeBron James net worth of around $800 million, there are a few athletes that have a higher net worth than King James.
Those athletes can be counted on one hand – Tiger Woods ($800 million), Anna Kasprzak ($1 billion), Ion Tiriac ($1.2 billion), Michael Jordan ($1.6 billion), and Vince McMahon ($2.1 billion). At the rate LeBron James net worth is climbing, he’ll join the billionaire club very soon!
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It’s crazy how much money is in the sports industry. Between the amount of money you make playing your sport and the additional money you make in endorsements and investments, the sky is truly the limit for athletes today. Only time will tell how high LeBron James net worth gets!
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