What Sport Pays The Most In US? (Listed & Analyzed!)

Last Updated on October 12, 2023 by Alex PT

Basketball, particularly the NBA, pays the most in the United States. The average NBA salary in 2023 is $8.5 million. The highest-paid NBA player, Stephen Curry, earns over $48 million per year.

What Sport Pays The Most In the US?

There are a number of reasons why basketball players earn so much money. First, basketball is a very popular sport in the United States and around the world. This popularity generates billions of dollars in revenue from television deals, sponsorships, and ticket sales. Second, basketball is a very competitive sport, and the NBA is widely considered to be the best basketball league in the world. This attracts the most talented players from all over the world, who demand high salaries.

Other high-paying sports in the United States include:

  • American football (NFL)
  • Baseball (MLB)
  • Hockey (NHL)
  • Golf (PGA Tour)
  • Tennis (ATP and WTA Tours)

However, none of these sports pays as much as basketball. For example, the average NFL salary in 2022-2023 is $3.3 million, and the average MLB salary is $4.3 million.


The NBA which is the most popular basketball tournament in the world remains the highest-paying sports league. Basketball players in the NBA are paid high salaries because of the popularity and stature of the league. Basketball as a sport has started paying very high salaries since 1975, and since then, it has been able to gain a lot of popularity. Not quite long after, basketball became the most-watched sport in the United States. Apart from that, these players earn millions from multiple endorsements. Besides, some of these top NBA basketballers boost their yearly income through signature shoes and jerseys. Take for example, in 1992, Michael Jordan, who is one of the most popular sportspersons in the US, made the Forbes list of Richest Players with $35.9 million. He didn’t stop there! In 1993, he made $36 million. Michael Jordan also went ahead to make $30 million in 1994, $44 million in 1995, $78 million in 1997, and $69 million in 1998. Shaquille O’Neal’ is another legendary basketball player who attained 6th place in the Forbes list of Richest Players. In 1993 alone, he earned $15.2, followed by $16.7 million in 1994. Don’t be surprised yet! The highest-paid NBA player takes home $343 million per an um. And that makes basketball the highest-paying sport in the world. 



Boxing, which is sometimes regarded as one of the most dangerous sports in today’s era, picks the second sport on our list of the sports that pay the most in the US. It is one of the oldest sports in the world. Boxing started as far back as 688 BC.  This sport famously participates in the USA, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Professional boxers go home with a crazy amount of money as their tournament prize money. That’s not all. These well-known boxers get extra money from endorsements from big companies, Pay-Per-View commissions, and betting. In 1991, Mike Tyson, one of the greatest boxers, was top of the Forbes list with $28.6 million. That’s not all. He also topped the Forbes list again in 1996 with $75 million. By the way, in 1992, there was an infamous boxer called “Evander Holyfield” who topped the Forbes list of Richest Players with $60.5 million. Recently, we saw the hegemony of boxers like Floyd Mayweather. In 2012, he topped the Forbes list of Richest Players with $85 million annual pay. Furthermore, he repeated the feat in 2014 when he went home with $105 million. Floyd Mayweather remains the richest boxer in the world at the moment, after earning $333 million from a match. That makes boxing the 2nd highest-paying sport in the world right now. 



Golf is another legendary sport with a high-paying salary. One of the most popular and successful golfers is none other than Tiger Woods. Woods topped the Forbes list of Richest Players for a record of eleven times. In 2002, he first topped the list with a staggering $69 million. Not quite long after, he also topped the list in 2003 with $78 million, in 2004 with $80.3 million, in 2005 with $87 million, in 2006 with $90 million, in 2007 with $100 million, in 2008 with $115 million, in 2009 with $110 million, in 2010 with $105 million and 2011 with $75 million, and finally, Woods tops again in 2013 with a total income of $78.1 million. By the way, it wouldn’t be right to forget another remarkable name in the game of golf. Jack Nicklaus’s name will go down the history line of greatest golfers. In 1994, he attained third place in the list of richest players with $14.8 million. 

How do sports teams make money?

1. Television and Media Rights

Sports teams generate a significant portion of their income by selling broadcast rights of their games to television networks. This distribution enables teams to reach larger audiences and make money off commercials and sponsors. In addition, they may receive money from placements and promotions in their content.

2. Ticket Sales

Ticket sales are another major revenue stream for sports teams. Every stadium or arena’s seat sold for a game equates to income – from VIP boxes to the cheapest seats in the stands. Teams often apply strategies such as dynamic ticket pricing, where prices vary based on demand and opposition, to maximize profits.

3. Merchandising

Sports teams make money by selling merchandise such as jerseys, training kits, hats, scarves, and other souvenirs embossed with the team’s logo or colors. Notably, a team’s standout players’ jersey sales can rake in substantial income.

Best Selling Merchandise
Trading Cards

4. Sponsorship

Sponsorship is a significant income source for sports teams. Businesses partner with teams to have their logos placed on uniforms, pitch-side banners, and in the stadium. Also, product endorsements by these teams or their players can generate money.

5. Licensing

Many sports teams make money by licensing their logos and trademarks for use in video games, collectibles, and other products. This licensing allows teams to earn money without producing or distributing the products themselves.

6. Concessions and Parking

Concessions (like food and drink stalls) and parking services at stadiums and arenas are often overlooked revenue sources. These earnings can increase significantly during the season, especially during games when the venue is packed.

7. Player Trading and Transfers

In some sports, lucrative player trading and transfers can bring profound windfalls to the teams. When a team sells a player to another team, they receive a transfer fee, which depending on the player’s market value, the fee can be considerably high.

8. Stadium Tours

Allowing fans to experience behind-the-scenes tours of the team’s stadium or arena can also bring in income. Visitors typically pay a fee to get an insider’s look at the team’s locker rooms, walk on the pitch, and visit exclusive VIP areas.

9. Investments and Ownership Stakes

Teams can invest their income in diversified portfolios, including real estate and stocks. In addition, some sports franchises earn money through partial ownership stakes in other teams or sports-related businesses.

10. Digital Media

In the era of digitalization, sports clubs profit from digital platforms like websites, apps, and social media channels. These platforms open up innovative possibilities for additional income through advertising, branding partnerships, and subscription-based content. A team’s digital platform might also offer exclusive access to game highlights, interviews, and other unique content for a fee.


For better understanding, we’ve compiled a detailed list of the frequently asked questions and answers about the sports that pay the most in the United States. 

Who Is The Richest Sportsman In 2023?

Michael Jordan is the richest sportsman in 2023, with an estimated net worth of $1.7 billion. He is a former professional basketball player who played for the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards in the National Basketball Association (NBA). He is widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time and is credited with popularizing the NBA around the world.

Jordan earned his wealth through a combination of salary, endorsements, and investments. He was one of the highest-paid athletes in the world during his playing career, and he has continued to earn millions of dollars per year in endorsements since his retirement. In addition, Jordan has made successful investments in a variety of businesses, including restaurants, car dealerships, and golf courses.

Other sportsmen who are among the richest in the world in 2023 include:

  • LeBron James ($1 billion)
  • Lionel Messi ($900 million)
  • Cristiano Ronaldo ($800 million)
  • Tiger Woods ($750 million)
  • Roger Federer ($700 million)

How Much Do The Baseball Players Earn?

On average, a baseball player earns $4 million in 2021 according to recent data. Baseball makes the list of the top ten most paying sports in the world. Besides, MLS, Major League Baseball, is the most famous baseball league in the United States, and some of MLS players make the list of the Forbes richest athletes. 

What Are The Most Popular Sports In The World?

Basketball, American Football, Cricket, Tennis, Baseball, Golf, and Volleyball are among the most popular sports in the world. Most of these sports are also regarded as the highest-paying sports in today’s world. More of a reason why most young athletes strive to participate in these sports. 

Final Word 

Just like we said earlier, basketball claims the first spot on our list of sports that pays the most in the United States. We’ve reached the closing chapter of this informative article. We hope you were able to find good and reliable resources in your quest to know what sport pays the most in the US. If you have any questions or comments about the article topic, don’t hesitate to contact us. Thanks!

Leave a Comment