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: Conor McGregor tops the list of highest-paid sports stars of 2020

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The COVID-19 pandemic did not slow the earnings of the elite sports stars in 2020.

According to an annual list released by Forbes, the top-10 highest paid athletes across all sports grossed $1.05 billion in the last calendar year, a 28% increase from the previous year’s top 10.

Many of the athletes earned huge portions of their income outside of the salaries from their sport in the forms of investments, endorsements and media production deals. The dollar figures below are a calculations from Forbes.

Here is a list of the 10 highest-paid athletes of 2020 and how they made their money:

10. Kevin Durant, $75 million

Kevin Durant #7 of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets.

Elsa/Getty Images

Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant has become an active investor in the past few years.

Durant’s investment firm Thirty Five Ventures invested in Coinbase
COIN,
-2.54%

whose April IPO saw his 2017 investment grow 53 times what it was worth then. Durant’s firm also invested in food delivery company Postmates before its sale to Uber
UBER,
+6.61%

in 2020.

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Durant has big earnings from his Nike
NKE,
+1.74%

contract and his over NBA salary — he is the second-highest earning basketball player on this list.

Durant’s 2020 earnings were $31 million on the court, and $44 million off the court.

9. Tom Brady, $76 million

Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after winning Super Bowl LV.

Getty Images

In his first year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, quarterback Tom Brady won the Super Bowl. His new contract with the team brought him $45 million in on-field earnings.

The rest of Brady’s earnings came from endorsements deals with companies including Under Armour
UAA,
+3.36%
,
Fanatics and eyewear maker Christopher Cloos.

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Brady’s 2020 earnings were $45 million on the field, and $31 million off the field.

8. Lewis Hamilton, $82 million

Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain.

Pool/Getty Images

Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton made most of his money on the track in 2020 after winning his sixth championship in the last seven years.

Hamilton, who drives for Daimler-owned
DMLRY,
+2.61%

Mercedes on the F1 circuit, has endorsements deals that include Tommy Hilfiger, Monster Energy and Puma.

Hamilton’s 2020 earnings were $70 million on the track, and $12 million off the track.

7. Roger Federer, $90 million

Switzerland’s Roger Federer.

philippe lopez/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Tennis star Roger Federer had a rough 2020 from a tennis perspective. Federer had multiple injuries that precluded him from winning any tournaments.

The 20-time Grand Slam winner still had a strong year financially, as his sponsorships with companies including Rolex, Credit Suisse
CS,
+1.65%

and Uniqlo made him $90 million.

Federer’s $90 million in 2020 earnings were exclusively made off the tennis court.

6. Neymar, $95 million

Brazilian forward Neymar.

Getty Images

Soccer star Neymar is the third soccer player in the top-10 highest earners of 2020. The Brazilian forward plays for French football club Paris Saint-Germain, a team who paid him $76 million in the last year.

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Neymar benefits from endorsements deals with Puma and Epic Games, and has 282 million followers on Facebook
FB,
+3.50%
,
Instagram and Twitter
TWTR,
+3.23%
,
where athletes can earn money for sponsored posts.

Neymar’s 2020 earnings were $76 million on the field, and $19 million off the field.

5. LeBron James, $96.5 million

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James.

AP

NBA star LeBron James had a busy 2020. He led the Los Angeles Lakers to a world championship in the NBA bubble at Disney
DIS,
-2.60%

World and was involved in several off-court social justices causes.

In the last year, James became the highest career earner in NBA history at $346 million over his 18 seasons.

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James’s production company SpringHill Entertainment is producing many TV projects including shows for ABC and Starz, as well as the upcoming film Space Jam: A New Legacy.

James’s off-court endorsements include deals with Nike, Apple’s
AAPL,
+1.98%

Beats by Dre, fast-food pizza chain Blaze Pizza, and a small stake in Fenway Sports Group (FSG), which owns the Boston Red Sox, Liverpool FC.

James’s 2020 earnings were $31.5 million on the court, and $65 million off the court.

4. Dak Prescott, $107.5 million

Cowboys star Dak Presott.

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

It pays to be the quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys.

Star quarterback Dak Prescott was already making over $30 million last season from the Dallas Cowboys, but the team decided to give Prescott a contract extension in the offseason with huge lump sum payment, according to sports contract site Spotrac.

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Prescott has endorsement deals with companies including Sleep Number
SNBR,
+3.33%
,
7/11, Campbell’s
CPB,
-0.59%

soup and DirecTV.

Prescott’s 2020 earnings were $97.5 million on the field, and $10 million off the field.

3. Cristiano Ronaldo, $120 million

Juventus’ Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo.

Getty Images

Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo is the second footballer on this list, and has become a mainstay on Forbes top-10 highest earners lists over the years.

Ronaldo plays for the Italian club Juventus
JUVE,
+0.22%
,
which is one of the many public sports teams you can invest in.

He benefits from a lifetime contract with Nike and sells his CR7 branding to many accessories, hotels and gyms.

Ronaldo’s 2020 earnings were $70 million on the field, and $50 million off the field.

2. Lionel Messi, $130 million

Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona.

Getty Images

FC Barcelona star forward Lionel Messi is another mainstay on the top earners list from Forbes. The 33-year-old footballer is widely considered one of the greatest players ever and was the top soccer earner in the world for 2020.

Messi has a lifetime sponsorship deal with Adidas
ADDYY,
+1.50%
,
as well as other deals with Pepsi
PEP,
+0.15%

and clothing company Ginny Hilfiger, sister brand of Tommy Hilfiger.

Messi’s 2020 earnings were $97 million on the field, and $33 million off the field.

  1. Conor McGregor, $180 million
Mixed martial arts fighter Conor McGregor.

Getty Images

The top athlete earner of 2020 was MMA fighter Conor McGregor.

McGregor fought just one time in 2020, at UFC 257. He earned $22 million in a fight where he lost by knockout to Dustin Poirier.

The Irish fighter’s endorsement portfolio includes deals with DraftKings
DKNG,
+9.51%
,
the videogame Dystopia, and the lifestyle brand Roots of Fight. His biggest deal by far came when he sold his majority stake in his whiskey brand Proper No. Twelve. The deal netted the fighter well over $100 million, according to Forbes.

McGregor’s 2020 earnings were $22 million in the octagon, and $158 million out of the octagon.

All of the top-10 highest paid athletes of 2020 were men, and a majority of them (six) are not from the United States.

Forbes’ data on athlete earnings were calculated for the 12-month period between May 1, 2020, and May 1, 2021.

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