Roger Federer is the world’s highest-paid athlete: Forbesby Howie Kussoy
Roger Federer is back on top.
Despite inching closer and closer to retirement, the 38-year-old, 20-time Grand Slam champion — currently ranked fourth in the ATP — topped Forbes magazine’s list of the world’s highest-paid athletes of the past year, collecting $106.3 million in pre-tax earnings. Federer, who placed fifth in earnings in 2019, is the first tennis player to top the list since it was first featured in 1990. Though Federer — who has won just three majors since 2012 — collected a relatively modest $6.3 in winnings on the court, the Swiss icon brought home $100 million in endorsement deals and appearance fees.
Federer, a longtime Nike spokesman, signed a $300 million deal with Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo in 2018, helping him become the only athlete besides Tiger Woods to earn $100 million from sponsorships in one year.
“His brand is pristine, which is why those that can afford to align with him clamor to do so,” University of Southern California sports business professor David Carter told Forbes.
Multiple international soccer stars came close to taking the top spot, with Cristiano Ronaldo ranking second ($105 million), followed by Lionel Messi ($104 million) and Neymar ($95.5 million). Ronaldo and Messi placed first three of the previous four years.
LeBron James ($88.2 million) was the highest-ranked American athlete, raking in $60 million from endorsements, followed by former Warriors teammates Stephen Curry ($74.4 million) and Kevin Durant ($63.9 million). Tiger Woods, who topped the Forbes list a record 12 times, had his most memorable year in a decade on the links after winning the 2019 Masters, but pulled in just $2.3 million of his $62.3 million in tournament winnings. A pair of unlikely, underwhelming NFL quarterbacks completed the top 10, with Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins earning $60.5 million and Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz taking in $59.1 million.
The Forbes list — featuring athletes from 10 sports and 21 nations — included 35 NBA players and 31 NFL players. MLB, which has yet to begin play in 2020 due to COVID-19, had only one player qualify (Clayton Kershaw, $27.3 million) after placing 15 the previous year. The collective income of the 100 highest-paid athletes dropped nine percent due to the pandemic — to $3.6 billion — marking the first decline since 2016.