These Are the Highest-Paid Olympic Athletes of All Time

Olympic athletes don’t just enjoy the fame, lavish lifestyle, admiration, but also the big bucks that come with it. Not many people know that Olympians earn a lot of money just by competing and showing up at sports events. 

Just by personal branding, these athletes can easily make millions per year. Winning games also mean better standing and getting invited to more sporting events that involve huge prizes. So, it’s safe to say that Olympic athletes get not only gold medals but also snag hefty prizes home. 

These Are the Highest-Paid Olympic Athletes of All Time
Image Source: The Guardian

30. Brian Boitano, $18 Million

Boitano is an American figure skater who won a gold medal during the 1988 Olympics. He won two world championship titles, one in 1986 and the other in 1988, aside from holding the United States Championship title for four years in a row from 1985 to 1988. 

These Are the Highest-Paid Olympic Athletes of All Time
Image Source: NPR

In 1996, Boitano became the first American Skater to successfully demonstrate the Triple Axel, which made him inducted into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame. He also won an Emmy award for his performance in the movie Carmen on Ice. 

29. Zara Tindall, $20 Million

The eldest grand-daughter of England’s Queen Elizabeth, Zara Tindall, has proven to be an accomplished athlete in the field of equestrian sports. She won a gold medal at the 2006 eventing World Championship, three European gold medals, and a silver medal at the 2012 Olympics. 

These Are the Highest-Paid Olympic Athletes of All Time
Image Source: CBS News

Zara made her fortune through hard work, sportsmanship, and various endorsements. Her net worth is estimated at 20 million dollars—fun fact: she is also the 18th in line to the British throne. 

28. Ray Borque,  $20 Million

At 28th on our list of highest-paid Olympic athletes is Raymond Jean Borque, or Ray Borque for short, known as one of the best defensemen today.  

These Are the Highest-Paid Olympic Athletes of All Time
Image Source: The Boston Globe

Though he retired in 2001, the 59-year-old NHL legend still holds the record for the most points, assists, and goals scored by a defenseman in the NHL. 

With a net worth of $20 million, Ray Borque remains one of the richest NHL legends in history. 

27. Oksana Baiul, $20 Million

Oksana Baiul holds the record as the first person to win a gold championship medal in any sport at the Olympics from Ukraine. The figure skater is also the only Ukrainian Olympic champion in figure skating. 

These Are the Highest-Paid Olympic Athletes of All Time
Image Source: New York Post

In 1993, she was the World champion and the 1994 Olympic champion for the ladies’ singles. 

With a net worth of $20 million, the figure skater earned her fortune from several endorsements and from the clothing and jewelry line she established.

26. Mark Spitz, $20 Million

Fondly called “Mark the Pool Shark,” Mark Andrew Spitz is a competitive swimmer who bagged seven gold medals at the 1972 summer Olympics. Mark’s record stood for 36 years before Michael Phelps broke it in 2008. 

These Are the Highest-Paid Olympic Athletes of All Time
Image Source: Britannica

The nine-time Olympic Champion is one of the world’s most decorated swimmers with a record of 24 gold medals, a silver medal, and a bronze medal. 

With a net worth of $20 million, he sits at the top 26th on our list of highest-paid Olympic athletes. 

25. Carl Lewis, $20 Million

Carl Lewis is a nine-time Olympic Champion, eight-time World Champion, and a two-time Pan American Champion. He was a dominant long jumper and an extraordinary sprinter.

These Are the Highest-Paid Olympic Athletes of All Time
Image Source: Emirates 24/7

Because of these accomplishments, he was named Athlete of the Century by the International Association of Athletics Federation. 

His career spanned from 1979 to 1996. Once he retired, Lewis started a branding company called C.L.E.G. He advertises products through it.

24. Jan Ullrich, $20 Million

Jan Ullrich is a former German professional road bicycle racer who won a gold and silver medal in Sydney’s 2000 Summer Olympics and a three-time world champion. He also won 1999 Vuelta a España and the HEW Cyclaissics in front of a home crowd in Hamburg in 1997. 

These Are the Highest-Paid Olympic Athletes of All Time
Image Source: Velo News

Ulrich partnered with Ghost Bikers, a German company, to launch and develop his bicycle line, the Ulrich bicycles. Jan Ullrich’s net worth is estimated at $20 million. 

23. Chantal Sutherland,  $20 Million

Canadian horse rider Chantal Sutherland, referred to as the Danica Patrick of horse racing, has been known as a TV personality and model, but most of all, a horse rider. 

These Are the Highest-Paid Olympic Athletes of All Time
Image Source: USA Today

Chantal is known for her appearances on the reality TV show, Jockeys on Animal Planet and is a poster girl for the Del Mar racetrack. 

Her $20 million net worth has put her into the 23rd spot of our highest-paid Olympic athletes of all time. 

22. Eddy Merckx, $20 Million

Undoubtedly one of the greatest professional road and track bicycle riders in professional cycling history, Eddy Merckx boasts a record of winning 11 unparalleled tours, three world championship gold medals, and won 625 races in the span of his 18-year career. 

These Are the Highest-Paid Olympic Athletes of All Time
Image Source: The Telegraph

When the 74-year-old Belgian athlete started to collect bicycles, he used those in professional tournaments in the 1980s and 1990s. His net worth of $20 million ranks him 22nd in our rich list of Olympians. 

21. Alan Pascoe, $30 Million

72-year-old former British athlete Alan Pascoe rose to fame after winning several medals in the 4×100 relay and hurdles events and a silver medal in the 1972 Olympics in Munich. He also won a few European Championships and Commonwealth Games as well. 

These Are the Highest-Paid Olympic Athletes of All Time
Image Source: Athletics Weekly

After his retirement, Alan started his own events and marketing firm.  His net worth of $30 million makes him the 21st richest Olympian on our list. 

20. Scott Hamilton,  $30 Million

Known for his innovative feats, Scott Hamilton won a gold medal in the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. This retired figure skater also won the United States Championship and World Championship four consecutive times. 

These Are the Highest-Paid Olympic Athletes of All Time
Image Source: AARP

After retiring in 1984, Scott has published three books and has been involved in several humanitarian efforts. 

19. Greg LeMond,  $40 Million

Known as America’s greatest road cyclist of all time, Greg LeMond won two medals at the Road Race World Championship and three medals at the Tour de France Tours. His career started at the young age of 18 when he became the youngest person to be selected for the United States men’s Olympic cycling team. 

These Are the Highest-Paid Olympic Athletes of All Time
Image Source: Los Angeles Times

After retiring in 1994, he ventured into the business world and is now interested in fitness equipment, restaurants, and real estate. 

18. Shaun White, $40 million

One of the most talented and recognizable faces of the Team USA in the Pyeongchang Games is Shaun White, a professional snowboarder. He was first discovered as a skateboarder before he entered the Olympic Games. 

These Are the Highest-Paid Olympic Athletes of All Time
Image Source: CNN International

White has competed in the 2006, 2010, 2014, and 2018 Winter Olympics and won gold at the snowboarding event, except in 2014. 

With this, he’s known to have won more medals than any other athlete in the winter games. 

17. Shane Warne, $50 Million

Former Captain of the Australian National Cricket Team Shane Keith is considered a legend in cricket. He played his first test match in 1992, picking well over 1000 international wickets before his retirement in 2013. 

These Are the Highest-Paid Olympic Athletes of All Time
Image Source: Sportzwiki

Shane has coached several cricket clubs and is considered one of the world’s richest cricketers ever. He was declared the Wisen Leading Cricketer in the World in 1997 and got inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame. 

16. Lance Armstrong, $50 Million

Lance Edward Armstrong became a Sprint Course two-time Triathlon champion in 1989 and 1990. He became a professional road racing cyclist and one of the most successful in the sport, with victories in 11 tours. 

These Are the Highest-Paid Olympic Athletes of All Time
Image Source: Market Watch

He started competing as a triathlete at 16 after winning several junior swimming tournaments. 

15. Ivana Trump, $60 million

In 1972, Ivana Trump was selected as an alternate on the Czechoslovak ski team for the 1972 Winter Olympics. She said that she specialized in downhill and slalom. 

These Are the Highest-Paid Olympic Athletes of All Time
Image Source: Town & Country

It was said that this was when she met former US President Donald Trump, whom she married in 1977. However, most of Ivana’s wealth came from modeling, business, and writing. 

14. Usain Bolt, $60 million

Dubbed as the world’s best sprinter, Usain Bolt holds the record for 100 meters and 200 meters. He is the only athlete to have won gold medals at three consecutive Olympics: Beijing 2008, London 2012, and Rio Janeiro 2016. 

These Are the Highest-Paid Olympic Athletes of All Time
Image Source: Deccan Herald

Usain Bolt holds eight gold medal Olympic championships and 11 world championships. He also broke 19 Guinness World Records. His net worth of $60 million makes him not just the best sprinter but the wealthiest as well. 

13. Michael Phelps, $80 million

The popular swimmer who racked more cash in his career is Michael Phelps. He’s among the most decorated Olympic athletes with a total of 28 meals, 23 of which are gold. Given this successful career, Phelps landed several endorsements with big brands such as Speedo and Under Armour. 

These Are the Highest-Paid Olympic Athletes of All Time
Image Source: Olympic

The veteran swimmer competed in the 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 Summer Olympics, taking home the most number for having gold medals. 

He retired in 2016 and started the Michael Phelps Foundation that promotes healthy living and a love for swimming. 

12. Novak Djokovic, $180 million

Ranking first or number one by the Association of Tennis professionals, it’s no surprise how Novak Djokovic has grown his wealth. He’s a superstar in the Olympics tennis event, with a broad collection of medals bagged home. 

These Are the Highest-Paid Olympic Athletes of All Time
Image Source: Tennis World USA

The Serbian tennis player scored a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Games, having won the nine Masters Series events, the Davis Cup. 

He has a fruitful career that rewards him with several endorsements that got him his estimated net worth of $180 million. 

11. Serena Williams, $180 million

Another tennis player making a lot of money appearing in the Olympics and signing with brands and none other than the Powershot and Grand Slam Goddess Serena Williams. She’s a four-time Olympic gold medalist that ranked 22nd in the world overall. 

These Are the Highest-Paid Olympic Athletes of All Time
Image Source: People

Williams represents Team USA, with 22 singles and 14 doubles titles in the Grand Slam events

She began her Olympic journey in 2000 at the Sydney Summer Olympics, where she won the first gold medal for women’s doubles event. 

10. Kobe Bryant, $350 million

Before his death in 2020, Los Angeles Lakers star player Kobe Bryant has a luxurious lifestyle and a towering wealth stack. He has two Olympic gold medals playing for the U.S. National Men’s Basketball in the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics. 

These Are the Highest-Paid Olympic Athletes of All Time
Image Source: Inc.Magazine

Being in the Los Angeles Lakers for two decades, Bryant surely acquired a lot of money from his deals and endorsements. 

In fact, he’s named the fifth-highest paid sports star in the world in 2013, having endorsed brands like Adidas, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Sprite, Nutella, Nintendo, and more. 

9. Cristiano Ronaldo: $400 Million

Nineteen-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo, who was then playing for one of the world’s premier professional soccer clubs, Manchester United, was chosen to be a member of Portugal’s Olympic team in 2004. 

These Are the Highest-Paid Olympic Athletes of All Time
Image Source: Eurosport

Today, Ronaldo plays for the Real Madrid club in Spain and Portugal’s national team.  With a $400 million net worth, he is one of the world’s highest-paid soccer stars.

 8. Shaquille O’Neal: $400 Million

Four-time NBA champion and 15-time NBA All-Star Shaquille O’Neal played on the U.S Men’s basketball team at the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta. They won every game by more than 20 points. 

These Are the Highest-Paid Olympic Athletes of All Time
Image Source: USA Basketball

Shaq is one of the richest basketball players with a net worth of $400 million, with the lion’s share from his endorsements and sponsorship deals from big and reputable brands.  

7. Roger Federer: $400 Million

Roger Federer is the most successful male tennis player in history, holding a record of 20 Grand Slam titles. He competed in four Olympics for his homeland, Switzerland, and won two of those competitions: a gold in doubles in 2008 and a silver in the men’s singles in 2012. 

These Are the Highest-Paid Olympic Athletes of All Time
Image Source: Tennis Head

Federer makes about $60 million a year in endorsements and sponsorships. His net worth of $400 million puts him in the top 7 of our rich list. 

6. LeBron James, $500  Million

Another big name in the basketball world is LeBron James, with a net worth of more than $350 million. He’s one of the most successful Olympians with three gold medals in the 2004, 2008, and 2012 Olympics. 

These Are the Highest-Paid Olympic Athletes of All Time
Image Source: ESPN

In addition, James has three NBA titles and four NBA MVP awards, naming him one of the greatest basketball players of all time. 

Because of his successful career, he has been paid hundreds of millions of dollars for his salary and landed major sponsorship throughout the years. 

5. Magic Johnson, $600 Million

NBA icon Earvin “Magic” Johnson, who retired from the NBA in 1991, is a five-time NBA champion who also became a highly-successful entrepreneur. Johnson is also a co-owner of baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers, the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks, and the MLS’s Los Angeles Football Club

These Are the Highest-Paid Olympic Athletes of All Time
Image Source: Married Net Worth

He served as the co-captain of the legendary “Dream Team” in the 1992 Summer Olympics with other basketball legends and NBA Hall of Famers. 

The team easily won the championship in Barcelona. 

4. Floyd Mayweather, $915  Million

Boxing fans surely know Floyd Mayweather, a legendary boxer with a bronze medal in the flyweight category in Atlanta’s 1996 Olympics. He has represented the Team USA as an amateur and, from there, picked up his career to stardom. 

These Are the Highest-Paid Olympic Athletes of All Time
Image Source: Bleacher Report

Mayweather is undefeated at 50-0, with total knockout wins at 27. Because of this, big-shot brands are trying to get him to sign an endorsement deal. 

A major sponsorship came from a luxury Swiss watch company Hublot, after winning a fight with McGregor. 

3. Lionel Messi, $1 Billion

In the world of football, the name Lionel Messi is already established. The Argentinean football player helped the team snag the gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Games. He also has one gold medal from the Under-20 World Cup. 

These Are the Highest-Paid Olympic Athletes of All Time
Image Source: Sky Sports

Messi has won a total of 30 trophies with Barcelona but failed to win the Copa America in 2019. 

Despite this, he has a collection of lucrative deals with fitness and athletic sports brands, including Adidas, which is a lifetime agreement. 

2. Ion Tiriac, $1.32 Billion

Ion Tiriac is a national hero in his homeland, Romania, which he represented as a member of the Romanian Ice Hockey team at the 1964 Winter Olympics. He became a top-10-ranked professional tennis player in the 1970s. 

These Are the Highest-Paid Olympic Athletes of All Time
Image Source: Money

Tiriac owns a museum located in Romania, the Tiriac collection, displaying his personal array of cars, including Bentleys, Lamborghinis, Rolls Royces, and Ferraris. 

He also entered the world of global entrepreneurship and is now worth $1.32 billion. 

1. Michael Jordan, $1.4 Billion

Topping our list is the greatest basketball player known in history, Michael Jordan. He was a six-time NBA title winner and 10-time NBA scoring champion; he was also the reigning NBA regular season and Final MVP in 1992. 

These Are the Highest-Paid Olympic Athletes of All Time
Image Source: Essentially Sports

Jordan led the US men’s basketball team to win gold medals in two Olympics. 

Jordan has earned a pre-tax total of $1.3 million in sponsorship, a bulk of which coming from Nike and the iconic Air Jordan brand. 

Conclusion

These are some of the highest-paid Olympic athletes of all time. More than their successful careers, these athletes also received a lot of support from brands paying good money for endorsements. 

Signing with several brands gives these Olympians steady wealth throughout the years, even lifetime. This is the reality in the sports world when athletes rise and achieve more things playing their respective sporting events.