World’s Highest-Paid Athletes 25 and Under
Prior to the 2017 NFL Draft, Marshon Lattimore ran the 40-yard sprint in 4.36 seconds. But it’s a real boost: The New Orleans Saints cornerback has earned $40.9 million in the past 12 months after raising $2.6 million the previous year, lifting the rankings of the highest paid athletes in the world in 38th place before his 26th birthday.
The transport makes Lattimore one of seven stars aged 25 or under to land this year Forbes list of the best earners in the world of sport.
It’s an exclusive group, with no shortage of barriers to entry. The top 50, as measured by pre-tax profits and agent fees, has an average age of 32, and only one member of the top ten – 27-year-old Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo – does not not yet 30 years old. In the NFL and NBA, rookie pay scales suppress the salaries of young people who stand out. MLB players don’t enter the open market of free agency until they’ve spent six years in the major leagues.
But these seven athletes overcame those hurdles, and more, to shell out at least $38 million in the 12 months ending May 1.
Here are the highest paid athletes 25 and under in the world.
Total winnings: $67 million
Earnings on the field: $63 million
Off-field gains: $4 million
Allen enters this list under the wire: he will be 26 on May 21. The Buffalo Bills quarterback signed a six-year contract extension in August that peaks at $258 million and has $150 million in guaranteed money, an NFL record. That includes a $16.5 million signing bonus and a $42.4 million option bonus, which pushes Allen to the top of this ranking. Off the pitch, he counts Nike, Pepsi and New Era among his sponsors.
2. Naomi Osaka
Total winnings: $59.2 million
Earnings on the field: $1.2 million
Off-field gains: $58 million
Osaka is just short of her $60 million in total earnings last year, which set a record for a female athlete, and is one of only two women to make the top 50, along with Serena Williams . The Japanese tennis ace has more than 20 retail partners, including Nike, Mastercard and Louis Vuitton, as well as his own skincare line, Kinlò. She has also just launched a sports agency, Evolve.
3. Max Verstappen
Total winnings: $48 million
Earnings on the field: $46 million
Off-field gains: $2 million
Sport: Formula 1 car racing
Verstappen won the 2021 F1 Drivers’ Championship by overtaking rival Lewis Hamilton on the closing lap of the final race of the season. The title came with a big championship bonus for the Red Bull Racing driver, who finished third in 2019 and 2020. Verstappen is an established star despite his young age. He was the youngest driver in F1 history, at 17, and he set another record by winning his first race aged 18.
4. Kylian Mbappe
Total winnings: $43 million
Earnings on the field: $28 million
Off-field gains: $15 million
Mbappé became a global star with his standout performance for France as a 19-year-old at the 2018 World Cup, and he’s been France’s Ligue 1 top scorer every season since. (The Paris Saint-Germain striker leads the league again with 25 goals, with one game remaining in the 2021-22 season.) Mbappé, named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe 2022 list in the sports category, is a partner from brands such as Nike, Hublot and EA Sports.
5. Marshon Lattimore
Total winnings: $40.9 million
Earnings on the field: $40.8 million
Off-field gains: $0.1 million
Like Allen, Lattimore barely sneaks onto this list – he turns 26 on May 20. The Saints cornerback signed a five-year, $97.6 million contract extension in September and earned his fourth Pro Bowl selection in five NFL seasons.
6. Devin Booker
Total winnings: $39.9 million
Earnings on the field: $31.9 million
Off-field gains: $8 million
Booker’s Phoenix Suns had a disappointing end to the season, falling to the Dallas Mavericks in the second round of the playoffs after reaching the NBA Finals last year, but his business is only heating up. The shooter, who was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 2022 list in the sports category, partners with brands like Nike, Corona beer and Sweetgreen and plays a hands-on role as co-owner of the water sports drink of coconut COCO5.
Total winnings: $38 million
Earnings on the field: $30 million
Off-field gains: $8 million
The YouTube star-turned-boxer is polarizing, but he had two lucrative fights against Tyron Woodley last year, plus a high-paying fight against Ben Askren that fell on the outside Forbes’ tracking window for this ranking. Paul was the promoter for the April megafight between Amanda Serrano and Katie Taylor and recently announcement he planned to return to the ring himself in August, with his opponent yet to be determined.
Forbes’ field earnings figures include all prize money, salaries and bonuses earned between May 1, 2021 and May 1, 2022. In cases where players continue to be paid beyond May for a regular season that is ending then, as in the NBA and European football – we award the full season’s salary. Playoff bonuses are included for the 2021 NFL season and the 2020-21 NBA season.
The off-pitch revenue figures are an estimate of sponsorship deals, appearance fees and memorabilia and licensing revenue for the 12 months to May 1, 2022, as well as cash returns from all businesses operated by the athlete, based on conversations with industry insiders. Forbes does not include investment income such as interest payments or dividends, but does take into account payments from stakes sold by athletes.
Forbes does not deduct taxes or agent fees.
With additional reports by Justin Birnbaum.