Lebron James may be out of the 2022 NBA Playoffs but he is the highest-paid basketball star according to a recently published list by Forbes. Coming in at No. 2 on the 2022 10 Highest-Paid Athletes List, the Los Angeles Laker reportedly raked in $121.2 million in pre-tax earnings. He follows Argentinian soccer star Lionel Messi, who tops the ranking with $130 million in earnings.
According to the report, the world’s ten highest-paid athletes collectively made $992 million in pre-tax gross earnings over the last 12 months, the third-highest total ever. This comes after 2021’s $1.05 billion and 2018’s $1.06 billion. Among the ten athletes listed, an estimated $500 million is the result of endorsements, appearances, memorabilia, licensing fees, and cash returns from businesses they operate and equity stakes they sold.
Lebron James, who counts an on-court total of $41.2 million in addition to $80 million in off-court earnings, can thank not only his generational basketball skills but also endeavors such as Space Jam: A New Legacy, an endorsement deal with Crypto.com, and other investments and opportunities.
Other NBA players who are among the ten biggest ballers in sports include Stephen Curry at No. 5, Kevin Durant at No. 6, and Giannis Antetokounpo closing out the list at No. 10. Among all sports, no women are present on the list. In January 2022, Forbes published a female-specific highest-paid athlete list that included Naomi Osaka at the top followed by Serena and Venus Williams respectively in the second and third positions. Simone Biles and Candace Parker were also featured on the list.
To establish the ranking, Forbes accounted for on-field earnings figures including all prize money, salaries, and bonuses earned between May 1, 2021, and May 1, 2022. The platform explains that in cases in which players continue to be paid beyond May for a regular season that is concluded, full-season salaries were used. Additionally, bonuses are included for the 2021 NFL season and the 2020-21 NBA season. Forbes does not deduct taxes or agents’ fees and the list includes athletes active at any point during the 12-month time period.
Read the ranked list of the top 10 highest-paid athletes below and on Forbes.