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LeBron James Is The Highest Paid Athlete In 2022 With $127 Million In Earnings, Beating Out Soccer Stars Cristiano Ronaldo And Lionel Messi

LeBron James Is The Highest Paid Athlete In 2022 With $127 Million In Earnings, Beating Out Soccer Stars Cristiano Ronaldo And Lionel Messi

LeBron James didn't have the best season from a sporting success point of view. His Los Angeles Lakers side failed to make the play-in tournament, with the King subsequently uninvolved in NBA action since the end of the regular season. LeBron enjoyed a stellar individual campaign despite being in Year 19 though, making a serious bid for the league's scoring title. 

And while that may not have been enough to offset the team disappointments, his projected earnings across the year will surely make up for it more than a little. James is expected to be the highest-paid athlete in the world this season, beating out the amounts that global soccer superstars like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are projected to make (data via Sportico). 

The 18-time All-Star earned $127 million during the past 12 months from the Lakers and his expanding off-court empire, according to Sportico estimates. It is the highest tally of his two-decade career and more than any other athlete on the planet.

The top 100 athletes play 10 different sports and collectively earned an estimated $4.5 billion in salary, prize money and endorsements over the last 12 months—a 6% increase from last year’s best-paid stars. James tops a trio of global soccer stars and a boxer, as Lionel Messi ($122 million), Cristiano Ronaldo ($115 million), Neymar ($103 million) and Canelo Álvarez ($89 million) round out the top five.

James has several endorsement deals and also has investments in various arenas, famously including his minority stake in Liverpool FC, something he tweets about quite often. His deals with Nike, Walmart, PepsiCo, and other major brands also account for his income.

LeBron is also the highest earner in basketball in 2022, with Steph Curry at $86.2 million and Kevin Durant at $85.9 million in 6th and 7th on the list, respectively. On-court success is still the biggest priority for LBJ as he continues to chase Michael Jordan's status as the GOAT, but the way he has built his business empire outside of his primary NBA career should be an inspiration to all the younger stars of this generation.