Who Were the Highest-Paid Athletes in 2021?
The financial figures in sport are enormous. The highest-paid athletes in the world make tens of millions, or even hundreds of millions per year.
The global pandemic put a significant dent in the commercial aspect of many sports. Even though the teams and their owners earned significantly less during this period, individual athletes actually thrived.
According to the Forbes annual rankings of the world’s highest-paid athletes for 2021, the top 50 of them turned in a record-setting year and made nearly $2.8 billion in 12 months, beating 2019’s record total by more than $150 million.
Highlights of the Year
This year’s list had a multitude of names making the big bucks. Here are some of the highlights:
Connor McGregor is 2021’s highest-paid athlete
MMA fighter Connor McGregor tops the list with a whopping $180 million earned in 2021. According to McGregor, this has been a long time coming, who in 2016 infamously boasted to soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo that he’d overtake him one day as sports’ highest-paid star.
Roger Federer lands at the 7th spot
Roger Federer’s on-field earnings for 2021 were a mere $0.03 million, but he still lands in the 7th spot. Recovering from a knee injury, Roger Federer made nearly all of his $90 million in earnings from sponsorships.
Naomi Osaka is the only woman among the top 15 earners
Naomi Osaka is the highest-paid female athlete on this list and the only one to crack the top 15. Over the last year, she won her second Australian and U.S. Open titles, while also receiving media attention for her stances on mental health and racial equality.
Dak Prescott had the highest on-field earning
The highest on-field earning by any player was by Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott who earned $97.5 million in 2020. In March of 2021, Prescott signed a four-year, $160 million contract extension with the Cowboys, with a $66 million signing bonus.
Motor racing’s top earners
Seven-time Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton and newcomer and current world championship leader Max Verstappen are the only two from the sport of auto racing on the list.
Significance in Numbers
Let’s take a look at the most notable numbers in this year’s list:
What the Future Holds for the Highest-Paid Athletes
With contracts and endorsement deals growing bigger every year, the number of athletes breaking the $100 million mark will continue to increase.
While supermax contracts and weekly wages make the headlines, endorsement deals account for a significant portion of an athlete’s income. And that piece of the pie is growing steadily. The off-the-field earnings of the top 50 athletes reached $1.04 billion this year, compared with $556 million back in 2012.
If the last year has been any indication, socio-political messages and social media will likely play an essential part in how athletes are perceived and their endorsements are impacted as we go forward in the future.
Ranked: The World’s Largest Stadiums
The U.S. is known for its massive arenas, but in a top 10 ranking of the world’s largest stadiums, two other countries take the lead.
Ranking The World’s Largest Stadiums
From football games to live concerts, stadiums serve as a gathering place for some of life’s most exciting moments.
While some stadiums are famous for their history, others are truly massive in size, capable of seating over 100,000 people at once. In this graphic, we’ve ranked the 10 largest stadiums in the world by seating capacity, with Madison Square Garden included as a reference point.
Data and Highlights
As shown in the graphic above, the world’s largest stadium belongs to India. Named after the country’s Prime Minister, the Narendra Modi Stadium was designed to host cricket games.
See below for the full list in tabular format.
|1||Narendra Modi Stadium||🇮🇳 India||Ahmedabad||132,000|
|2||Rungrado 1st of May Stadium||🇰🇵 North Korea||Pyongyang||114,000|
|3||Michigan Stadium||🇺🇸 US||Ann Arbor, MI||107,601|
|4||Beaver Stadium||🇺🇸 US||State College, PA||106,572|
|5||Ohio Stadium||🇺🇸 US||Columbus, OH||102,780|
|6||Kyle Field||🇺🇸 US||College Station, TX||102,733|
|7||Neyland Stadium||🇺🇸 US||Knoxville, TN||102,455|
|8||Tiger Stadium||🇺🇸 US||Baton Rouge, LA||102,321|
|9||Darrell K Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium||🇺🇸 US||Austin, TX||100,119|
|10||Bryant-Denny Stadium||🇺🇸 US||Tuscaloosa, AL||100,077|
The number two spot is held by Rungrado 1st of May Stadium, which is surprisingly located in North Korea. It was completed in 1989 with the purpose of hosting the 13th World Festival of Youth and Students, and is now used to host various government events.
It’s interesting to note that this arena initially had a higher capacity of 150,000 people, but was reduced to 114,000 after renovations in 2014.
Looking further down the list, the third to tenth largest stadiums belong to the United States. All of these arenas are primarily used for college football, serving as the home field for their respective university team.
A shocking fact is that these arenas are significantly larger than NFL stadiums. For example, the largest NFL stadium is MetLife Stadium, which has a seating capacity of 82,500.
While just three countries are represented in the top 10 list, there is plenty of geographical diversity once we look a little further down. Shown below are the 11th to 14th largest stadiums in the world.
Camp Nou and FNB Stadium are two historic soccer stadiums which have both hosted a FIFA World Cup tournament. Camp Nou is owned by FC Barcelona, the world’s third most valuable soccer club.
New Administrative Capital Stadium is expected to replace the Cairo International Stadium as Egypt’s new national arena, and could be used to host the Olympics or a FIFA World Cup in the future if called upon.
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