Sports is one of the most popular sources of entertainment. However, over the years, it has risen to become one of the biggest industries in the world, with huge monies involved. Professional sports have heavy expectations, especially when it comes to physical demands and discipline. However, they are also very rewarding, with top sportspeople earning millions of dollars annually. In that regard, what sport makes the most money?
What are the most popular sports in the world that pay well? Below is a look at what sport makes the most money, the highest-paid athletes, and other interesting facts.
What sport makes the most money
While most sports are well-paying, they are not the same. There are considerable differences in the amount of money involved, which are usually brought about by the level of interest each sport generates. Below is a look at the ten best highest paying sports in the world.
Have you been wondering what professional sport makes the most money in the world? Soccer is at the top of the list. Also known as football (not to be confused with American Football), it is one of the most popular sports globally, watched by billions of fans worldwide. In 2009, soccer had a massive global revenue of $28 billion, outdoing every other sport.
Football also boasts of having some of the highest-paid sportspersons in the world. In 2021, soccer had three footballers in the list of the top 10 highest-paid athletes in the world. It also led other sports in the top 50 highest-paid categories with 18 players. The highest-paid football player in 2021 was Christian Ronaldo, with total earnings of $125 million.
Basketball is another top sport in the world that pays well. While it does not have a following as massive as soccer, it is pretty popular, especially in North America. NBA, the number 1 professional basketball league in North America, is the most lucrative in the world.
How much is the NBA worth? The franchise has 30 teams with an average net worth of $2.6 billion. Therefore, the league’s total net worth is around $78 billion or more. The National Basketball Association also boasts of the highest-paid athletes in the world. Who is the highest-paid athlete? In 2021, the highest-paid athlete in the world was Lebron James, with a salary of $41.2 million and total earnings of $111.2 million.
3. American football
What are the most popular sports in the world? American football is the most popular sport in the USA. It is also a money-minting industry and is one of the most lucrative games in the world. The National Football League, the premier American football association, is worth over $112 billion. It also generates massive revenues; it made $9.8 billion in 2021 despite the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
American Football has some of the highest-paid sportspersons in the world. The top earner in 2021 was Dark Prescott, with a total income of $107.5 million, followed by Tom Brady with $76 million. Both players made it into the Forbes top 10 highest-paid athletes.
What sport pays the most? Baseball is another high-paying sport considered a pinnacle of American culture. Major League Baseball (MLB) is the tier 1 baseball league globally and one of the most lucrative sports leagues with a total worth of over $66 billion.
Baseball is also very rewarding to its players. The MLB has a minimum salary of over $500,000 per year, meaning that even the lowest-earning professionals take home a significant paycheck. Currently, the highest-paid baseball player in the world is Max Scherzer, of the MLB outfit New York Mets with a salary of $44.3 million.
5. Ice hockey
Ice Hockey is another top sport with a massive following in North America. The National Hockey League (NHL) is the premier professional ice hockey league globally, comprising American and Canadian teams. The franchise has 30 teams valued at more than $30 billion.
Golf might not be a high action sport, but it is still popular worldwide. Golf features several professional golfers associations, which run tours and tournaments worldwide.
The top pro golf associations include:
- The Professional Golf Association (PGA) – US-based premier professional golf association for men
- European Tour – Europe’s leading association that operates several pro men’s golf tours
- Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) – US-based association for professional women golfers.
Several other associations and even independent golf tour organizations host professional golf tournaments. These include even junior associations such as the American Junior Golf Association.
Golf is a very lucrative sport with an average salary of around $2 million. However, high earners can take home more than $100 million a year. In 2021, the highest-paid golf player was Tiger Woods, with an annual income of $62 million (mostly endorsement deals).
Tennis is another individual sport that is quite popular around the world. It is considered one of the most challenging sports globally, with intense physical and mental demands both on the court and off-court. It is thus not surprising that it is mainly played recreationally by most people. However, the sport is very rewarding for a professional tennis player, with top stars taking home millions a year in earnings.
Tennis is a unique sport regarding earnings as it has better equal pay across both genders. The average salary for a professional male tennis player is $335,946 compared to $283,635 for women. Tennis also offers equal prize money for major tournaments.
In 2020, the highest-paid tennis player in the world was Roger Federer, with an annual income of $90 million. The second and third spots went to women – Naomi Osaka with $55 million and Serena Williams with $40 million.
8. Mixed martial arts
Mixed martial arts is one of the most popular combat sports globally. It is physically demanding and has a higher risk of injury than most others. However, it is very lucrative for athletes who manage to go far.
An average professional mixed martial arts athlete can take home between $35,000 and $250,000 per year. However, top athletes earn millions a year, with vast sums paid for appearance alone. The sport produced the highest-paid athlete globally in 2021 – Connor McGregor with total earnings of $180 million.
Boxing is one of the oldest sports, going back to the ancient Sumerian civilization. And while some modern games have overtaken it, it is still pretty popular with a considerable following. It has also produced some of the greatest sports names globally, the likes of Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, and Floyd Mayweather.
Boxing, like MMA, is quite dangerous and thus comes with high rewards, especially for top talent. In 2020, Tyson Fury was the highest-paid boxer in the world, with total earnings of $57 million.
10. Auto racing
Auto Racing is a motorsport that is very popular around the world. It is a high-risk sport, featuring several sporting events held worldwide. However, it also comes with high rewards, making it one of the highest paying sports jobs in the world.
In 2021, the highest-paid athlete in Auto Racing was Lewis Hamilton, a Formula 1 driver with total earnings of $82 million. Hamilton also made it to the list of Forbes' top 10 highest earning sportspeople for the year.
How do sports teams make money?
There are several ways in which the sports industry creates revenue. They include:
- Ticket sales during sporting events.
- Sale of merchandise.
- Sponsorship deals by brands – for example, top companies such as Nike pay sports teams and athletes millions of dollars per year to promote their brand.
- Viewership rights that are sold to TV networks.
Who is the richest sportsman in 2022?
The richest athlete in the world is Michael Jordan, a retired, former NBA player. He has a net worth of $1.6 billion and continues to earn money to this day through sponsorship deals. However, the richest active athlete is pro golfer Tiger Woods, with an estimated net worth of $800 million.
For fans, sports events are a way of entertainment. However, it is their bread and butter for the athletes who participate in these events. Most of them spend several years, including their childhood, training and honing their skills.
Hopefully, by now you know what sport makes the most money. Overall, the above are some of the most popular and highest paying sports globally. However, several others are not on the list, where athletes also take huge paychecks. These include swimming, running, gymnastics, cricket, rugby, etc.
Although the primary source of income for the wealthiest soccer players is wages from clubs, a majority make more money from endorsement deals and business interests. As the sport grows both in the fanbase and revenue collection, players' salaries are revised upwards.