10 biggest sports deals in history: Where does Lewis Hamilton’s Ferrari salary rank?

Sam Cooper
Patrick Mahomes, Lewis Hamilton and Lionel Messi.

These three have all become incredibly wealthy through their sporting careers.

Lewis Hamilton has put pen to paper on a multi-year deal that is set to earn him a huge amount – but where does it rank him in the most lucrative sports contracts ever?

According to some reports, Hamilton has signed a Ferrari deal that will see over $400 million coming his way but incredibly, this is not the most expensive deal of all time.

In compiling this list, we have chosen to look at purely team-player based deals, so while the likes of Michael Jordan has earned over $1 billion through Nike, his Chicago Bulls contract is not enough to get him onto this list. From NFL stars to footballers like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, here are the 10 most lucrative deals in sports history:

10.) Manny Machado – San Diego Padres – Baseball – $350 million

Coming in at number 10 is American third baseman Manny Machado.

The Miami-born player first joined the Padres in 2019 and already began setting records with the biggest free agent contract in MLB history. Unfortunately for him, Bryce Harper would break it two weeks later when he joined the Philadelphia Phillies.

Machado’s initial contract was for $300 million over a 10-year period but he upped the ante in 2023 when he signed a new 11-year deal worth $350 million.

9.) Aaron Judge – New York Yankees – Baseball – $360 million

Just barely beating Machado is another baseball player in the form of Aaron Judge who signed for the New York Yankees in 2016 out of the draft.

In his first season he was named American League Rookie of the Year and went on to become an All-Star player on five occasions.

Still with the Yankees, his performances and loyalty were rewarded with a nine-year deal worth $360 million in 2022.

8.) Mookie Betts – Los Angeles Dodgers – Baseball – $365 million

Are you noticing a theme? The money in baseball is evident for all to see and one big receiver of that is Mookie Betts.

Having started with the Boston Red Sox, Betts moved over to the LA Dodgers in 2020 for a deal worth $365 million over 12 years.

7.) Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels – Baseball – $426.5 million

Another player on a 12-year deal is Mike Trout who also plies his trade in LA.

The 32-year-old plays for the Angels and is an 11-time MLB All-Star, three-time American League Most Valuable Player, and nine-time winner of the Silver Slugger Award given to the top offensive player at each position.

He signed his deal in 2019 and it was the second-biggest contract in sports history at the time.

6.) Karim Benzema – Al-Ittihad – Football – $426 million

Finally we have our first non-baseball player and it comes in the form of French footballer Karim Benzema. Having spent 14 years at Real Madrid, where he won the Ballon d’Or in 2022, Benzema joined many other high-profile stars by moving to Saudi Arabia.

Unsurprisingly, he was handed an enormous amount for the move with a two-year deal netting him an eye-watering $426 million. Although there are now reports he is unhappy in Saudi Arabia and pursuing a move away not even a year after joining.

5.) Cristiano Ronaldo – Al-Nassr – Football – $432 million

Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Saudi Arabia was easily the biggest in the country’s history. After a few years of attracting some big names, Saudi Arabia got its first superstar in Ronaldo who had fallen out with previous club Manchester United.

But it was going to take a lot of money to convince Ronaldo to leave Europe for the first time in his career and Al-Nassr offered just that.

The Portuguese star signed in January 2023 in a deal that ends in 2025 and during that time, Ronaldo will have pocketed €400 million ($432m), thought to be split equally between a salary for playing, and a later ambassadorial role for Saudi Arabia as hosts of the 2034 World Cup.

His team, owned by Saudi Arabia’s royal family, finished second in the league in his first season and currently occupy the same spot in the 2023-24 campaign.

4.) Lewis Hamilton – Ferrari – Formula 1 – $446 million

If figures are to be believed, Hamilton’s contract could earn him $446m, but not all of that will be heading directly into his pocket.

According to French publication Sportune, Ferrari first approached Hamilton in 2023 but the $50 million a year offer was turned down with Hamilton wanting confirmed investment into his Mission 44 organisation.

Ferrari, led by chairman John Elkann, returned by granting that wish and offering a pay packet of $87 million for 2025 with the option to extend that into 2026.

Crucially though, a quarter of that will go into funding Mission 44 and Elkann has offered to create an investment fund with Ferrari’s parent company Exor worth $272 million. Hamilton would then serve as ambassador for this.

Put all this together and you have the most lucrative deal in F1 history, surpassing the previous benchmark of $275m set by Max Verstappen.

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3.) Patrick Mahomes – Kansas City Chiefs – NFL – $450 million

For a player tipped to become the greatest quarterback of all time, it is no surprise Patrick Mahomes is high up on this list. The Kansas City Chiefs star, who is also a part owner of the Alpine F1 team, signed the most expensive NFL contract in history in 2020 worth $450 million over 10 years.

It is almost double the next on the NFL list in Joe Burrow and considering Mahomes has guided the Chiefs to two Super Bowls and potentially a third this year, it is looking like value for money.

2.) Lionel Messi – Barcelona – Football – $674 million

Lionel Messi’s appearance on this list is different to all the others in that this contract was actually one in the past.

The Argentine joined Barcelona as a kid and soon became the world’s best player and one of the greatest footballers of all time. It is no surprise, then, that his salary increased exponentially during his stint in Spain.

At its peak, Messi was earning $674 million across four seasons which was an unprecedented amount of money at the time. First signed in 2017, it would be the last deal Messi would ever have with Barcelona as they could not afford to keep him due to the Spanish league’s strict financial rules.

Messi would depart Camp Nou to join Paris Saint-Germain before moving to the US and Inter Miami. Even now, Messi takes home a sizable pay packet and while his base salary is $20 million a season, he also reportedly has a deal with league broadcaster Apple to get a cut of their subscriber profits.

1.) Shohei Ohtani – Los Angeles Dodgers – Baseball – $700 million

But topping this list is 29-year-old Shohei Ohtani who signed an astonishing 10-year deal with the LA Dodgers that will earn him $700 million.

The Japanese player moved to the US in 2018 and won rookie of the year in his first season. After five seasons with the Dodgers, they rewarded him with the record deal, giving him the biggest contract in sporting history and one that expires in 2033 or, to put that in other terms, Oscar Piastri will be 32 by then and Verstappen will be 36. Fernando Alonso meanwhile will still be driving at 52.

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