Career earnings: Michael Jordan made more money than Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi combined

While professional athletes are being paid more than they ever have, Michael Jordan's dominance during his career means he is still comfortably the highest-paid sportsperson of all time.

With the amount of money being thrown around in sport these days, you could be excused for assuming someone like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo or Lebron James would have earned more than someone who retired 20 years ago.

However, that doesn't appear to be the case according to data presented by, which shows Jordan's career earnings of $3.3billion.

One of the greatest basketball players ever

Considered one of the true legends of basketball and the greatest players ever, Jordan made 11 All-NBA teams and won five MVPs, six Finals MVPs, and six NBA titles. However, his impact is far greater than his awards and championships. Although Jordan retired 20 years ago, he still tops the chart of the world`s highest-paid athletes.

According to Sportico, Forbes, and Sports Illustrated data, the basketball legend hit a jaw-dropping $3.3bn in lifetime earnings, or far more than any other athlete on the list.

His lifetime earnings become even more impressive compared to other sports superstars. Statistics show Air Jordan earned more money than Cristiano Ronaldo and LeBron James combined.

The next three athletes on the list are all golfers. Tiger Woods ranked as the second-highest-paid athlete ever, with $2.5bn in total earnings. Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus follow, with $1.7bn and $1.63bn, respectively.

Cristiano Ronaldo, the highest-paid football player on the list, came fifth with $1.58bn, or $100million more than his rival Lionel Messi. Another basketball superstar, LeBron James, follows with $1.53bn in total earnings.

Four out of the 10 highest-paid athletes of all time are golfers

Thanks to their rising fame, the world`s best athletes have seen their bank balances skyrocket over the years, with annual records consistently broken. However, golf definitely leads as the highest-paid sport. According to Sportico data, four out of 10 highest-paid athletes of all time are golf players, who racked in a jaw-dropping $7.2bn in lifetime earnings.

Basketball and football follow with two names on the top ten list. As the two basketball legends, Michael Jordan and LeBron James, racked up more than $4.8bn in their lifetime.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, the only two football stars in the top 10, follow with just over $3bn in combined lifetime earnings. Also, statistics show half of the ten highest-paid athletes of all time are retired.

READ MORE: Who is the richest footballer in the world - and no it's not Cristiano Ronaldo…or Lionel Messi

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