The Five Biggest Sporting Contracts of All Time - The Leamington Observer

The Five Biggest Sporting Contracts of All Time

Leamington Editorial 6th Dec, 2023   0

Top professional athletes have been well-paid since the beginning of time. They become heroes and heroines to fans and supporters and are financially rewarded for their part in entertaining the crowds. In today’s sporting world, where clubs, franchises, and teams are part of a multi-billion dollar industry, where corporate sponsorship and broadcasting rights are worth eye-watering sums, elite-level athletes earn astronomical sums of money that mere mortals can only dream about.

In terms of earnings per game or event, the best-paid sports star is Mexican boxer Canelo Alvarez. The Mexican has won world championships in four weight classes, prompting streaming service DAZN to offer him an 11-fight deal worth $365 million, or a staggering $33,181,818 per fight! However, when looked at in pure value terms, that bumper contract only ranks Alvarez sixth; so, who are the top five earners?

Lionel Messi – Association Football – $674,000,000

For many years, the Spanish soccer team FC Barcelona was the king of Europe and always the favorite with the best online betting sites to beat whoever stood before then. Argentinian superstar Lionel Messi was one of the primary reasons for Barcelona’s most successful period, and the Catalan giants handsomely rewarded their talismanic forward.

Messi joined Barcelona when he was only 13 and stayed with them until age 34. Like a fine wine, Messi improved with age and was consistently among the top goalscorers in Spain’s La Liga and globally. In 2017, with several of Barcelona’s rivals rumored to be attempting to prize Messi away, the club offered their number 10 a four-year deal worth a staggering $674 million. To this day, Messi’s contract is the largest ever offered to an athlete.

Cristiano Ronaldo – Association Football – $536,336,818

Cristiano Ronaldo has earned mega-money throughout his contract because, like Messi, he has an almost unnatural ability to score goals. Ronaldo has played for Sporting CP, Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Juventus during a 22-year career, but it is his latest club that broke the bank to sign the Portuguese soccer legend.

The Saudi Arabian Pro League has set its sights on becoming a more prominent name in world soccer. One way it is trying to do so is by attracting some of the game’s biggest names to its competition, and those names do not come bigger than Ronaldo.

Al-Nassr is probably not a team you have heard of before this year, but one that has been plastered over the sports pages of newspapers worldwide. Why? Because they are paying Ronaldo $536,336,818 over 2.5 years, which is more than $7.15 million per game!

Patrick Mahomes – American Football – $450,000,000

Two North American athletes find themselves in the top five, and Patrick Mahomes is one of them. Mahomes is a quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs, one of the American Football’s best teams. Ever since Mahomes made his NFL debut, he has been considered a rising star. He is now considered one of the best quarterbacks to have played American Football.

Mahomes helped the Kansas City Chiefs win the Super Bowl in 2019, which was only his second season as a professional. His reward was a ten-year $450 million contract that tied him to the Chiefs until 2030. Should Mahomes see out his contract, he will pocket an average of $45 million annually, or a cool $2,465,686 each time he steps onto the football field.

Karim Benzema – Association Football – $436,336,818

Karim Benzema is among his generation’s most decorated soccer stars, winning 24 trophies with Spain’s Real Madrid between 2009 and 2023. Benzema is the club’s second-highest goalscorer behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid’s all-time leading assist provider.

Although Benzema, 35, was nearing the end of a long and illustrious career, Saudi Arabian club Al-Ittihad decided that the Frenchman could still do a job for them, so offered a massive $436,336,818 two-year contract. Obviously, Benzema jumped at the chance for one last bumper payday and will likely hang up his boots for good when his deal ends in the summer of 2025.

Mike Trout – Baseball – $426,500,000

Major League Baseball (MLB) teams are infamous for offering their star players long and lucrative contracts, which is precisely what the Los Angeles Dodgers did in 2019. The year prior, Sports Illustrated rated Mike Trout as the number one player in baseball, and he has no shortage of teams wanting his signature.

The Los Angeles Dodgers responded by putting a 12-year $426.5 million contract on the table, and Trout wasted little time putting pen to paper. For the briefest of periods, Trout’s contract was the richest contract ever offered in North American sports, but Patrick Mahomes’ deal with the Kansas City Chiefs trumped it a few months later.


The five sporting icons you have just read about are some of the best players in their chosen sport. Combine the value of their contracts, and the figure is astounding: $2,523,173,636;that is more than $2.5 billion! Extend the list to the top ten earners, and the combined figure swells to almost $4.3 billion.

The top athletes and players earn sums that many see as being obscene. However, those people fail to see the business’s commercial side. For example, Cristiano Ronaldo will make over $530 million by the time his 2.5-year deal with Al-Nassr concludes, but he will generate more than that for his team.

Television companies will pay Al-Nassr vast fortunes for the rights to broadcast games featuring one of the greatest footballers ever. Furthermore, fans and supporters will flock to the stadium, each purchasing a ticket and refreshments while they are there so they can see Ronaldo in action. Al-Nassr sold more than 250,000 replica shorts in the three days after Ronaldo joined the club, and those sales continue skyrocketing.

Top-tier sports are part of the entertainment industry, and it is worth a small fortune, so it makes perfect sense to reward those players whose very appearance puts bums on seats with colossal salaries and contracts.


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