24 surprising athletes who have made an insane amount of money

We tend to think of the best athletes in sports as the highest-paid and best-compensated.

And LeBron James, Tom Brady, and Roger Federer do rank highly in career earnings in their respective sports.

But every sport has some surprising athletes who have made a ton of money, despite not ranking as perhaps the best at what they do or sustaining greatness over a long period of time.

We went through the career earnings of major sports and found a few athletes that would surprise even hardcore fans with how much money they have made. Of course, “surprising” also depends on the sport. For instance, only one golfer (Tiger Woods) has ever made over $US100 million in winnings, while it’s not uncommon for MLB or NBA players to make well over $US100 million in their careers.

Below are 24 surprising athletes who have made a ton of money in their sports.

Data via Spotrac,PGA Tour, ATP, and WTA.


24. Agnieszka Radwanska — $US27.6 million

Sport: Tennis

Age: 29

All-time rank in sport: 6th

One thing to know: Radwanska hasn’t made a major final since Wimbledon in 2012, when she lost to Serena Williams. Ranked as high as No. 2 in the world in 2012, Radwanska hasn’t yet won a tournament this year.


23. Tomas Berdych — $US28.9 million

Sport: Tennis

Age: 32

All-time rank in sport: 9th

One thing to know: Like many of the men in tennis, with the Big 4 dominating, Berdych hasn’t completely broken through. Since losing to Rafa Nadal in the Wimbledon final in 2010, Berdych has made five major semifinals but hasn’t won one yet.


22. David Ferrer — $US31.2 million

Sport: Tennis

Age: 36

All-time rank in sport: 7th

One thing to know: From 2007 to 2016, Ferrer lingered mostly in the top 10, getting as high as third in the world. But since sliding out of the top 10 in May of 2016, Ferrer has fallen to 148th in the world. Still, longevity, including 27 career titles (but no majors) has helped make him one of the highest-paid players in the history of the game.


21. Jim Furyk — $US68.4 million

Sport: Golf

Age: 48

All-time rank in sport: 4th

One thing to know: Furyk has one major to his name and 17 overall PGA Tour wins. But a career that’s lasted since the mid ’90s has allowed Furyk’s earnings to climb higher than every golfer besides Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and Vijay Singh.


20. Justin Rose — $US76.5 million

Stacy Revere/GettyJustin Rose doesn’t win a ton of tournaments, but he finishes high.

Sport: Golf

Age: 38

All-time rank in sport: 9th

One thing to know: Despite winning just one major, Rose has been right there for plenty of other tournaments. Since winning the U.S. Open in 2013, Rose has 37 top-10 finishes over the last five years. He has over $US5 million in winnings this season alone.


19. Marian Gaborik — $US92.2 million

Jonathan Daniel/GettyMarian Gaborik has made a ton of money as an elite goal scorer.

Sport: Hockey/NHL

Age: 36

All-time rank in sport: 11th

One thing to know: Gaborik’s 17-year career, with three All-Star appearances and 407 goals, sixth-most all-time, has made him one of the highest earners in NHL history. But even with nearly $US11 million remaining on his deal, he’s unlikely to pass Alexander Ovechkin ahead of him to climb into the top 10 all-time.


18. Shea Weber — $US102.8 million

Minas Panagiotakis/GettyShea Weber’s monster contract has allowed him to climb up the leaderboard in career earnings.

Sport: Hockey/NHL

Age: 33

All-time rank in sport: 6th

One thing to know: Weber has made six All-Star teams, but never finished in the top 10 in goals, assists, or points in a single season. The bulk of his earnings have come from a 14-year, $US110 million contract he signed in 2012 when he was coming off of a career-best 49-point season.


17. Alex Smith — $US106.5 million

Sport: Football/NFL

Age: 34

All-time rank in sport: 24th

One thing to know: Smith produced perhaps the best season of his career in 2017, completing 67.5% of his passes for 4,000 yards, 26 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, and a 104 passer rating. Known mostly as a safe game-manager, Smith is efficient, but has rarely blown anyone away.


16. Sam Bradford — $US114 million

Sport: Football/NFL

Age: 30

All-time rank in sport: 22nd

One thing to know: Bradford has played just two full seasons in his career and 15 games just once, but is still the 17th highest-paid quarterback ever. Bradford benefitted from coming into the league as a No. 1 pick before the rookie scale, allowing him to sign a six-year, $US78 million contract when he entered the league. Even after only playing two games last season, Bradford signed a one-year, $US20 million contract this offseason.


15. Nene Hilario — $US126.5 million

Sport: Basketball/NBA

Age: 35

All-time rank in sport: 52nd

One thing to know: Nene was once known as a solid scorer for a big man, but never a go-to option or an elite defender. The best stretch of his career came from 2008 to 2011, when he averaged 14 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.


14. Jacoby Ellsbury — $US128.3 million

Sport: Baseball/MLB

Age: 34

All-time rank in sport: 57th

One thing to know: In 11 years, Ellsbury has made one All-Star team. He finished second in MVP voting in the same season. Though stats don’t tell the whole story, Ellsbury has batted above .300 just twice, hit double-digit home runs twice, and finished with a WAR above 5 twice.


13. Luol Deng — $US134.3 million

Sport: Basketball/NBA

Age: 33

All-time rank in sport: 43rd

One thing to know: At his peak, Deng was a lockdown defender who guarded the opposing best player while contributing 15-18 points per game. He made two All-Star teams with the Bulls, but has not been that player for three or four years now. Despite that, Deng is set to make $US18 million this season, thanks to the four-year, $US72 million deal the Lakers gave him in 2016.


12. Joe Flacco — $US135.8 million

Sport: Football/NFL

Age: 33

All-time rank in sport: 14th

One thing to know: In recent years, Flacco has been decidedly not elite. Flacco was rewarded with a six-year, $US120 million contract in 2013 on the heels of a Super Bowl win. Since then, he’s thrown 79 touchdowns to 52 interceptions, while completing 64% of his passes for an 84 passer rating. Decent numbers, but nothing spectacular.


11. Jose Reyes — $US137.1 million

Sport: Baseball/MLB

Age: 35

All-time rank in sport: 48th

One thing to know: Reyes signed a six-year, $US106 million contract in 2011 after leading MLB in batting average and triples. Since then, it’s been downhill for him, as he’s failed to bat over .300 or post an OPS above .800. This year, he’s batting .199 and people are openly questioning why he’s in the Mets lineup.


10. Matt Kemp — $US150.9 million

Sport: Baseball/MLB

Age: 33

All-time rank in sport: 34th

One thing to know: Kemp’s best season came in 2011, when he batted .324, hit 39 home runs, 139 RBIs, and finished second in MVP voting. Shortly after, he signed an eight-year, $US160 million contract. After a few solid, but unspectacular seasons, Kemp is having another All-Star season back with the Dodgers.


9. Julius Peppers — $US159.5 million

Sport: Football/NFL

Age: 38

All-time rank in sport: 9th

One thing to know: Peppers is a three-time All-Pro defender who has produced 10 or more sacks in 11 of his seasons, including in 2017. There’s no doubt he’s justified his contracts, but to be the highest-paid non-quarterback of all-time in the NFL is a bit surprising.


8. David Wright — $US161.7 million

Sport: Baseball/MLB

Age: 35

All-time rank in sport: 25th

One thing to know: Once upon a time, it would not have been surprising to see Wright on this list, as the longtime Met was reliable to hit .300 with 25-plus homers and 100 RBIs. But injuries have befallen Wright – he’s played just 321 games of a possible 935 over the last six seasons. He’s making $US20 million this year.


7. Robinson Cano — $US167.7 million

Sport: Baseball/MLB

Age: 35

All-time rank in sport: 24th

One thing to know: When healthy, Cano has been a borderline MVP and one of the league’s best sluggers. What is surprising is that since joining the Mariners in 2014, Cano hasn’t batted .300 and has only finished in the top 10 in SLG once. With $US120 million still left on his contract, Cano will keep climbing the list of all-time earners in MLB.


6. Tyson Chandler — $US171.5 million

Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesTyson Chandler’s impact goes beyond stats, but few other players in his role have made so much money.

Sport: Basketball/NBA

Age: 35

All-time rank in sport: 19th

One thing to know: Chandler has never been a player who was about stats. Chandler blossomed from a raw high schooler to one of the best rim protectors in the NBA, resulting in an All-Star appearance and Defensive Player of the Year award in 2011-12. In recent years, his game has declined with athleticism (and playing on the lowly Suns).


5. Zach Randolph — $US184.9 million

Sport: Basketball/NBA

Age: 37

All-time rank in sport: 15th

One thing to know: Randolph, contrary to Chandler, has put up impressive stats. For his career, he’s averaged 16 points and 9 rebounds per game, with five 20-10 seasons. However, Randolph’s game hasn’t jibed with the modern NBA and he’s never been a great defender. He’s done something right to earn so much over the course of his 17-year career.


4. Philip Rivers — $US187.9 million

Maddie Meyer/GettyThe Chargers have stuck by Rivers despite a lack of overall team success.

Sport: Football/NFL

Age: 36

All-time rank in sport: 5th

One thing to know: Rivers has been one of the better quarterbacks throughout his career, but never quite at the level of the best. His relative lack of team success also makes him a surprising name. Whereas the Manning brothers, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees have all won championships, Rivers has played just nine career playoff games and only two since 2010.


3. Zach Greinke — $US191.1 million

Tom Pennington/GettyZach Greinke has struggled with consistency in his career.

Sport: Baseball/MLB

Age: 34

All-time rank in sport: 13th

One thing to know: Greinke has, of course, had dominant seasons and been a Cy Young candidate multiple times. But consistency has plagued Greinke during his 15-year career. Twice he has posted ERAs above 4 after career years (2.16 ERA in 2009, 1.66 in 2015). When considering he’s made more than pitchers like Clayton Kershaw and Randy Johnson, it’s a bit of a surprise.


2. Joe Johnson — $US214.7 million

Rich Pedroncelli/GettyJoe Johnson was never much more than a worthy All-Star, but he’s been paid like one of the best players of all-time.

Sport: Basketball/NBA

Age: 37

All-time rank in sport: 8th

One thing to know: Johnson’s peak was a perennial All-Star who could produce 20-5-5 games with ease. Yet he never elevated into becoming a truly elite player or led his team to championship contention. He’s had about as good a career as anyone could ask for, but his place on the all-time earnings list is probably higher than his standing in the NBA ever was.


1. Carmelo Anthony — $US227.3 million

Sport: Basketball/NBA

Age: 34

All-time rank in sport: 7th

One thing to know: Anthony has always made money a priority in his career, and he’s clearly reaped the benefits. He’s made less than only Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan, and LeBron James – some of the best players in NBA history. Anthony is a future Hall of Famer, but his peak has never compared to those players. That Anthony has made so much while only ever possessing one elite skill is impressive.


Now, see how the highest-paid golfer of all-time spends his money…

Andrew Redington/Getty

Tiger Woods is back – here’s how he spends his millions and lives his life off the course >

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