New Study Reveals Hourly Pay Rate Of Some Of The World's Top Athletes

Football stadium filled with attendees

MNI Media / Juliet Anderson

Release Date

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

  • American footballers make the most per hour at $8,000

  • Tennis has the best pay equality, as men and women win the same prize amount at the four major Grand Slams

  • Male hockey players earn the most throughout their professional careers, averaging $36,853,000

  • Female hockey players are the worst paid professional athletes at $9 per hour

A new study has revealed the highest-earning athletes and careers for a variety of sports from soccer to tennis. A range of metrics were analysed to include pay per hour, based on total career earnings and length of career, as well as the gender pay gap.

American football is the highest hourly earning sport

Table of highest sports hourly wages

American footballers (NFL) earn a shockingly large amount each hour - $8001. Based on their lower-than-average training hours of 7hrs per week, and large yearly salaries, it’s no surprise that their hourly rate is so high. In fact, NBA players, who are the second-highest hourly rate earners train over double the NFL, at 20 hours per week.

Boxers are the lowest hourly earners, making just $28 per hour. Despite having the longest average careers of 16.7 years, their hourly rate makes them the lowest career earners of the sports analysed. However, professional athletes can increase their earnings through endorsements, which in many circumstances earns them more than their salaries. $100 million of the highest-earning athlete Roger Federer's salary came from endorsements in 2020. 

The professional athletes with the highest salaries

Professional athletes with the highest salaries

Highest-earning men’s player, Roger Feder is calculated to make a phenomenal $67,220 per hour. Soccer has the second highest-earning men's player as Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo earn a huge combined salary of $177,000,000. Their die-hard fans who travel to away games and pay big ticket prices to see them play have an impact at driving up their wages.

Hockey is the sport paying females the lowest salaries

When it comes to salaries in professional sport there are big differences between what men and women earn and unsurprisingly the research showed the lowest-paid professional athletes in our research are all women. Various factors influence the salary gaps but mainly women’s sport is considered less desirable to watch, meaning fewer ticket sales, less air time and ultimately less money pumped into them.

Soccer, basketball and hockey are sports that particularly highlight this gap. Our ranking showed hockey is the sport paying females the least at $9 per hour of training and therefore over their whole career.

Only two women in 2020’s top 100 highest-paid athletes

  1. Naomi Osaka, earning $22,765

  2. Serena Williams, earning $23,650 

It’s not a surprise that the only two women to be featured in last year’s 100 highest-paid athletes are tennis players. Tennis is one of the first sports to narrow the gender pay gap and offer equal prizes for their grand slam tournaments

Latest Stories