Meet the 15 richest Olympians of the 21st century (LeBron isn’t number one)

These sports heavyweights have amassed great fortunes from their contracts, businesses and endorsements.

As if the Olympic medals weren’t enough, top-earning athletes in the modern age also get lucrative sponsorships, brand endorsements, and big, fat paychecks along with the admiration of their peers and fans around the world.

Athletes amass fortune from sports contracts, commercials, business ventures that they or their families started, and even brief appearances. With this healthy harvest from private companies and patrons, an athlete’s yield may start from a conservative $20 million to hundreds of million depending on the sport, their skill and popularity.

Here’s our roundup of the richest living athletes who have participated in the Olympics starting from the Summer Games of 2000 in Sydney.

1. Anna Kasprzak, dressage

Olympics: London 2012, Rio 2016
Net worth: US$1.3 billion

Anna Kaspazrak. Photo by Ken Braddick/ Dressage News

Danish dressage rider and heiress Anna Kasprzak is the wealthiest Olympian in the world with her billion-dollar brand ECCO, a family-founded shoe business started by her late grandfather. Kasprzak qualified in her first Olympics in London 2012, followed by Rio de Janeiro 2016. Besides being a rider, the equestrienne runs an exclusive stable in Haderslev, Denmark.

2. LeBron James, basketball

Olympics: Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012
Net worth: $1.2 billion

Lebron James. Photo from Getty Images

Any basketball aficionado knows that LeBron James is king both on the hard court and beyond the arenas of the National Basketball Association (NBA). LeBron mapped out his success with grind and grit, becoming a rags to riches success story after being drafted into the league.

Due to high demand, Lebron is the first active player to make over 41 billion in earnings. He also earns from his business ventures and endorsement deals that have enabled him to acquire multimillion-dollar mansions and a lineup of luxury supercars. He established a privately funded foundation to create generational change for the kids and families in his hometown of Akron, Ohio through a focus on education and co-curricular educational initiatives.

3. and 4. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, football

Olympics: Messi in Beijing 2008; Ronaldo in Athens 2004
Net worth: Messi, $650 million; Ronaldo, $600 million

Lionel Messi

To the legion of football lovers all over the globe, Lionel Messi embodies Julius Caesar’s victory message: “He came, he saw, he conquered.” Messi also gave new generations of football fans thrilling moments throughout his career, including his World Cup feat in 2022. The Argentinian-born athlete’s immense fortune combines earnings from his contracts, profit-sharing partnerships, and dividends from lifetime deals with the biggest market brands such as Adidas, Budweiser, and Saudi Arabia Tourism.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Portuguese pride and professional footballer Cristiano Ronaldo is among the sport’s highest paid players. With numerous trophies to his name, investment in hotels and restaurants, and product partnerships, Ronaldo has amassed a diverse asset portfolio. The superstar is also Instagram’s most-followed man on the planet with 633 million followers. Ronaldo was only 19 when he competed with the Portuguese national team in his first and only Olympics in 2004.

5. and 6. Roger Federer and Serena Williams, tennis

Olympics: Federer in Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012, Tokyo 2020; Williams in Sydney 2000, Beijing 2008, London 2012, Rio 2016
Net worth: Federer, $550 million; Williams, $340 million

Roger Federer. Photo by Nick Laham/ Getty/ Thinkstock

Retired netter Roger Federer has raked in millions of prize money from the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) tours, and as much as $94 million a year from endorsements for Barilla, Credit Suisse, and LVMH among many during his peak. By the time he retired in 2022, the Swiss sportsman had built an empire for himself. Apart from 111 ATP titles and 20 Grand Slams, Federer has also won two Olympic medals (gold and silver).

Serena Williams. Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty

Like Federer, Serena Williams is no stranger to multi-million endorsement deals and business ventures. She founded the venture capital fund Serena Ventures with Will Perform, and the production outfit Nine Two Six Productions. She also owns a small stake in the Miami Dolphins football team, and authored a children’s adventure book in 2022. 

7. Kevin Durant, basketball

Olympics: London 2012, Rio 2016, Tokyo 2020
Net worth: $300 million

Kevin Durant. Photo from Nike

Kevin Durant signed a four-year, $194-million deal with the Nets in 2021. Then he was acquired by the Phoenix Suns in a trade, and signed a salary of $46.4 for 2023 to 2024. He is also tapped by brands such as Nike. Durant invests in startup initiatives through his family office 35V. He founded the television, film, and multimedia firm Boardroom, and established the Durant Family Foundation. In his three Olympic appearances, he won three golds with Team USA.

8. and 9. Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, tennis

Olympics: Djokovic in Beijing 2008, London 2012, Rio 2016, Tokyo 2020; Nadal in Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, Rio 2016
Net worth: Djokovic, $240 million; Nadal, $220 million

Novak Djokovic. Photo from Getty Images

Serbian tennis superstar Novak Djokovic earns the vast majority of his endorsement income from brands including clothing line Lacoste. Sporting News reports that between June 2019 and June 2020, he raked in $45 million in commercial earnings.

Rafael Nadal. Photo by Clive Mason/Getty

Spanish grand slammer Rafael Nadal has won 92 ATP titles, 22 grand slams, including a record 14 French Open titles. His amazing career and popularity have allowed him to earn from endorsements for Santander, Emporio Armani, Babolat, Heliocare, and Telefonica. He has two Olympic gold medals.

10. Michael Phelps, swimming

Olympics: Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012, Rio 2016
Net worth: $100 million

Michael Phelps. Photo by Peter H. Bick

Every sports enthusiast who knows the Olympics knows gold medal miner Michael Phelps. He is the “greatest swimmer of all time,” stacking away a total of 23 golds from Athens, Beijing, London, and Rio.

The decorated athlete jumpstarted his Olympics journey in 2000 and concluded it with a strong close in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro. Post retirement, he invested in the mental health startup Talkspace. During his peak he endorsed Subway, Visa, Speedo, PowerBar, Under Armour, and AT&T.

11. Usain Bolt, athletics

Olympics: Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012, Rio 2016
Net worth: $90 million as of April 2024

Usain Bolt. Photo from

Jamaica’s Usain Bolt has turned speed into a franchise with his incredible talent and charm. The retired sportsman holds the record as history’s fastest man, marking a flash-of-lightning pace of 9.58 seconds per 100 meters. His $90-million fortune was earned from career salaries, competition prizes, endorsements, paid appearances, and his HarperCollins autobiography Faster Than Lightning.

12. Shaun White, snowboarding

Olympics: Turin 2006, Vancouver 2010, Sochi 2014, Pyeongchang 2018, Beijing 2022
Net worth: $65 million as of April 2024

Shaun White

Former snowboarder, skateboarder, and five-time Olympian Shaun White’s multiple endorsements and career earnings made it possible for him to have not just a real estate portfolio of mansions, penthouses, and other properties across the United States—but also to start his business White Space, which makes boards and outerwear. 

13. and 14. Peter Sagan and Lance Armstrong, cycling

Olympics: Sagan in London 2012, Rio 2016, Tokyo 2020; Armstrong in Sydney 2000
Net worth: Armstrong, $50 million; Sagan, $50 million

Peter Sagan. Photo from Getty Images

Slovak cyclist Peter Sagan is also a three-time consecutive champ at the World Championships. In 2018, he launched his eponymous clothing line that includes race kits and casual wear. He also partnered with 100% eyewear, a legend in motocross which expanded into the cycling market in 2017.

Lance Armstrong. Photo from Getty Images

Prior to getting busted for using performance-enhancing drugs, which eventually stripped him of his seven Tour de France titles and multiple endorsements, Lance Armstrong’s fortune peaked at $125 million. The International Cycling Union (UCI) later asked Armstrong to return all the prize money he won from his seven victories.

15. Zara Phillips, eventing

Olympics: London 2012
Net worth: $20 million

Sara Philips. Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty

British royal descendant Zara Phillips is the daughter of Princess Anne and Mark Phillips. Her inherited wealth and prizes from the equestrian sport eventing—which is described as “equestrian triathlon”— have contributed to her riches.

Her mother was the first member of the Royal Family to compete in the Olympics when she rode Queen Elizabeth’s horse Goodwill at the 1976 Montreal Games. Zara Philips won silver with her team in London 2012.

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