Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen among world’s highest-paid athletes in 2022

Henry Valantine
Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen in the post-race press conference. Mexico October 2022

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton and race winner Max Verstappen in the post-race press conference. Mexico October 2022

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen both appear in the top 50 of the world’s highest-paid athletes in 2022, according to the annual list published by American business magazine Forbes.

Two-time World Champion Verstappen sits joint-26th in the list overall for his combined on and off-track earnings from May 2021 to May 2022 and, while Hamilton comes in 17th, this is a fall down the global list for him after he appeared eighth in Forbes’ list last year.

Forbes compile statistics surrounding athletes’ pay from their contracted and sponsorship earnings annually, with their own methodology stating that “on-the-field earnings figures include all prize money, salaries and bonuses… [and] off-the-field earnings figures are an estimate of sponsorship deals, appearance fees and licensing income for the 12 months through May 1, plus cash returns from any businesses operated by the athlete, based on conversations with industry insiders”, and while they did report their top 10 earners of 2022 earlier in the year, the list has now been expanded to a full top 50.

The majority of the earners on the list are traditionally dominated by the American sports market – with a few notable exceptions at the top end of the rankings, with 18 basketball stars and 14 American football players getting into Forbes’ top 50 earners, with only Hamilton and Verstappen earning enough to represent motorsport in this particular field.

Hamilton’s income, as reported by Forbes, reached $65 million [£53.75m] in 2022 – around half of global top earner Lionel Messi, who is fresh from winning the football World Cup in Qatar in December, and a drop from the $82 million [£67.8m] he was reported to have earned in 2021.

Elsewhere, Verstappen’s place among the top 50 is now likely to be set for years to come as well, with his status as a multiple World Champion coupled with his mega contract extension at Red Bull through to 2028, which is believed to put him alongside Hamilton as one of the sport’s highest-paid drivers, with Forbes having calculated his income at $48m through to May 2022.

Forbes’ highest-paid athletes of 2022

1. Lionel Messi [Football] – $130m
2. LeBron James [Basketball] – $121.2m
3. Cristiano Ronaldo [Football] – $115m
4. Neymar [Football] – $95m
5. Stephen Curry [Basketball] – $92.8m
6. Kevin Durant [Basketball] – $92.1m
7. Roger Federer [Tennis] – $90.7m
8. Canelo Alvarez [Boxing] – $90m
9. Tom Brady [NFL] – $83.9m
10. Giannis Antetokounmpo [Basketball] – $80.9m
11. Russell Westbrook [Basketball] – $79.2m
12. James Harden [Basketball] – $74.4m
13. Matthew Stafford [NFL] – $72.3m
=14. Aaron Rodgers [NFL] – $68m
=14. Tiger Woods [Golf] – $68m
16. Josh Allen [NFL] – $67m
17. Lewis Hamilton [Formula 1] – $65m
18. Tyson Fury [Boxing] – $62m
19. Naomi Osaka [Tennis] – $59.2m
20. Damian Lillard [Basketball] – $57.4m

26. Max Verstappen [Formula 1] – $48m

Read more: Revealed: The top 10 highest-paid drivers on the Formula 1 grid