Who’s Next on List of Billionaire Athletes?

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As we relayed earlier, LeBron James is set to become the fifth billionaire athlete in the world. He will soon join Tiger Woods, Floyd Mayweather, Renaldo and Lionel Messi, respectively. Michael Jordan is on there too, but he isn’t active like the other guys.

That’s one golfer, one boxer, two soccer players and a hoops dude.

Not all of these guys are necessarily billionaires though. Some, like Mayweather, may just claim to be.

“According to reports, Floyd Mayweather’s wealth totals to $560 million,” writes Essentially Sports. “Mayweather will dispute this and claim to be a billionaire. However, though he may have investments with the potential to earn a billion, as of now, his net worth stands at a little more than half a billion. Despite this, Forbes reported that Mayweather did reach the one billion mark in earnings, with his fight against Conor McGregor in 2017.”

So some may or may not be on the billionaire list, but they are all darn close at least.

So, who else is closing in on the perhaps-billionaire club? Well, according to Forbes, more NBA players: Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors, Kevin Durant and James Harden of the Brooklyn Nets, and Russell Westbrook of the Washington Wizards.

They aren’t the only ones, but given the NBA’s highly profitable coziness with China, you would think the league’s brightest stars have a chance. LeBron has certainly benefitted from that relationship. As late commissioner David Stern once said, “America has 350 million people. China has 350 million people who love basketball.” So while China has recently come under fire for massive human rights violations, China’s dollars still make sense for the NBA.

In fairness, China isn’t the NBA’s only cash cow. James has major deals with Nike, other merchandise companies and even his own businesses that are all based in America. But let there be no doubt, overseas marketing and profits are incredibly helpful for the NBA, which struggles to maintain interest in the United States.

All of the other stars on the list are indeed global.

Others who could join soon include Roger Federer (tennis), Neymar and Christian Reynaldo (soccer), and Rory McIlroy (golf). At least, that’s the speculation from Forbes and other financial publications.

With all his tournament winnings and endorsements, Federer is well on his way to be the first tennis billionaire. He has reportedly earned more than $900 million on and off the court.

Meanwhile, Reynaldo’s yearly salary is $100 million, and his contract with Nike is reportedly worth about $29,000 per day.

Serena Williams also recently made history when she became the first athlete ever to make Forbes’ list of the richest self-made women in America. Williams is reportedly worth more than $225 million, and she recently bought a share of the Miami Dolphins. Her endorsement deals should catapult her into the billionaire club soon.

Written by Sam Amico

Sam Amico spent 15 years covering the NBA for Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports and NBA.com, along with a few other spots, and currently runs his own basketball website on the side, FortyEightMinutes.com.


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  1. some day the word billion will make sense to the average joE. for now its like saying, ‘the next billionare is the next person to never ever be poor …’

    So Billions has become a euphemism for ‘anti-poor’ … if millions is considered rich, then billions is royalty.

    i think Lebron means King … now he has the bling.

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