Home » Beyond the game: 5 Black athletes make Forbes’ top 10 highest-paid list

Beyond the game: 5 Black athletes make Forbes’ top 10 highest-paid list

by Omokolade Ajayi

Key Points:

  • Top 10 athletes hit $1.38 billion, up 24 percent from last year. Black athletes lead the way with $551.7 million combined.
  • Basketball legend LeBron James takes the top spot among Black athletes ($128.2 million), with endorsements boosting his off-court earnings.
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo ($111 million) and Kylian Mbappé ($110 million) round out the top three highest-paid Black athletes, showcasing lucrative endorsement deals.

      The ten highest-paid athletes raked in an estimated $1.38 billion in pre-tax earnings over the past year, according to Forbes, shattering last year’s record of $1.11 billion by 24 percent. Black athletes are leading the charge, with five securing spots among the world’s top ten. They collectively earned $551.7 million.

      LeBron James reigns supreme

      Despite nearing the end of his NBA career, LeBron James, a U.S. basketball legend and one of the world’s wealthiest Black individuals, claimed the top spot among Black athletes in 2024. He landed fourth place globally, earning $128.2 million over the past year.

      His earnings comprise $48.2 million in on-court income (prize money, salary, bonuses) and a hefty $80 million off-court (sponsorships, appearances, memorabilia, licensing). As James ponders his post-NBA future, he inked a deal with DraftKings in January and joined a wave of celebrities investing in the PGA Tour.

      Antetokounmpo and Mbappé follow suit

      Nigerian-born Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks’ star, trails closely behind James on the Forbes list. He earned $111 million pre-tax over the past year, with $46 million on-court and $65 million off-court.

      Antetokounmpo launched a production company in January, partnered with Pepsi’s Starry beverage in February, and has his sixth Nike signature shoe slated for release later this year.

      Kylian Mbappé, the 25-year-old French footballer of Cameroonian descent who captains the national team, saw his earnings reach $110 million. As he prepares to leave Paris Saint-Germain, he falls to third among Black athletes (sixth globally).

      Mbappé’s earnings split is $90 million on-field and $20 million off-field. He established a production company in 2022 (partnering with the NBA) and boasts endorsement deals with Nike, Hublot, and Oakley.

      Rounding out the list

      Stephen Curry and Lamar Jackson round out the top five highest-paid Black athletes (ninth and tenth globally) with $102 million and $100.5 million, respectively.

      Curry’s earnings break down to $62 million on-court and $40 million off-court, while Jackson’s hefty $100.5 million haul includes a $72.5 million signing bonus he negotiated himself in his new Baltimore Ravens contract.

      Jackson also owns a diverse portfolio of businesses, including a soul food restaurant, a production company, a record label, and a clothing line.

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