In the world of professional sports, the pursuit of excellence is not only measured by victories on the field but also by the staggering figures that often accompany the industry’s most talented athletes. Contracts in some sports have reached unprecedented heights, showcasing the immense value placed on the skills and marketability of these exceptional individuals.
Here are the 15 largest sports contracts of all time; with contracts getting bigger and bigger, we do not exactly have to go far back in history to find the most eye-watering figures.
BIGGEST SPORTS CONTRACTS EVER
1. LIONEL MESSI – $674,000,000 – 2017-2021 – SOCCER – FC BARCELONA
It will come as no surprise that the biggest contract in sports history was given to the greatest player the world’s most popular sport has ever seen.
Lionel Messi arrived at Barcelona’s academy from Argentina aged 13 and was just 16 when he made his first-team debut in 2004. After winning everything there was to win on a team and individual level, it was the final contract Barcelona gave Messi that broke all sporting records. His four-year deal worked out at $4,434,210 per match.
However, years of financial irresponsibility recently came back to bite the Catalan giant. They were forced to let Messi leave for Paris Saint-Germain when that contract ran down, as they simply could no longer afford him. Messi even offered to play for free, but the Spanish league refused. In June 2023, he left Paris for Inter Miami after turning down an offer from Saudi Arabia that would have seen him break his own transfer record.
2. CRISTIANO RONALDO – $536,336,818 – 2023-2025 – SOCCER – AL-NASSR
One man who did go to Saudi Arabia in 2023 was Messi’s great rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, who signed for a Saudi league club in January after departing Manchester United for the second time.
After years of trailing their Arabian Gulf neighbors, Saudi Arabia has started throwing cash into golf, Formula 1, and soccer, among others. But the jewel in their crown so far was bringing Cristiano to their shores. He signed for Al-Nassr on a two-and-a-half-year deal.
A smaller total deal than Messi’s, the shorter contract means the Portuguese soccer player takes home $214,534,727 per year, by far the world’s biggest ever, as is his incredible $7,151,158 per match. Rumors, though, are abound that CR7 is not happy in Arabia and may not see out his enormous contract.
3. PATRICK MAHOMES – $503,000,000 – 2020-2031 – FOOTBALL – KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
The globe’s richest sports league, the NFL, has quarterback Patrick Mahomes as its richest player.
The Texan was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2017, and their selection was justified when, in early 2020, he led them to their first Super Bowl title in half a century. His reward: the second biggest contract in sports history at the time, worth just over half a billion dollars.
The much longer contract than the soccer legends means Mahomes rakes in just over $40m per year, but the short NFL season means that equates to $2,465,686 per game.
4. MIKE TROUT – $426,500,000 – 2019-2030 – BASEBALL – LOS ANGELES ANGELS
From now on, baseball will be dominating this list of the biggest sports contracts ever. And of the baseball players, LA Angels’ Mike Trout is the highest-paid player in MLB history.
The right-handed center-fielder has been with the Angels for his whole career, signing in 2011, meaning he will have spent almost two decades at Angel Stadium by the time his current $35,541,667 per year deal expires.
Yet to win the World Series, Trout has been named an MLB All-Star ten times and is a three-time American League MVP.
5. CANELO ÁLVAREZ – $365,000,000 – 2018-2023 – BOXING – DAZN
The top-earning stars of individual sports do not feature on this list, as they tend to earn their living from prize money, but Canelo Álvarez is the exception that proves the rule!
The orthodox Mexican signed a five-year deal with sports streaming platform DAZN in October 2018 for exclusive rights to his fights, which has seen him pocket $33,181,818 per fight for the last half-decade.
The undisputed champion at Super Middleweight has won nine of his ten fights during the contract at three different weight divisions, with one fight to come.
6. MOOKIE BETTS – $365,000,000 – 2021-2032 – BASEBALL – LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Coming in at number six is another contract baseball player with the LA Angels.
Earning the same amount as Canelo, but over a much longer period, is Mike Trout’s cross-city rival Mookie Betts, outfielder of the Los Angeles Dodgers and six-time all-star. After winning the World Series with the Boston Red Sox, Betts was traded to the Dodgers in 2020, with whom he penned a $30,416,667 per year deal and won the World Series again in the same year!
7. AARON JUDGE – $360,000,000 – 2023-2031 – BASEBALL – NEW YORK YANKEES
One of the most recognizable franchises in world sports, the Yankees, gets a player into the top ten!
The New York Yankees drafted Aaron Judge in 2013, but he was made to bide his time in the minor leagues, eventually making his Yankees debut in 2016. From then on, the outfielder proved his worth, being named an all-star four times and American League MVP in 2022.
As a result, the Yankees rewarded him with a $40m per year contract last December, the largest per-year deal in MLB history and the biggest for a free agent in league history.
8. MANNY MACHADO – $350,000,000 – 2023-2034 – BASEBALL – SAN DIEGO PADRES
Coming in at number eight is Manny Machado of the San Diego Padres.
Born in Miami and of Dominican heritage, Machado was drafted in 2012 by the Baltimore Orioles, with whom he spent six years, before heading to the LA Dodgers for a season.
The Padres offered him a $300m contract in 2019, and after adding a Silver Slugger Award in 2020 to his growing list of accolades, that deal was extended in February 2023 for another 11 years, with an extra $50m added.
9. FRANCISCO LINDOR – $341,000,000 – 2022-2031 – BASEBALL – NEW YORK METS
Nicknamed “Mr Smile”, Puerto Rican Francisco Lindor is the highest-paid player born outside the United States in MLB history.
Beginning his career in 2015, the shortstop spent five years with the Cleveland Indians, winning two Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers. He then moved to the Mets in a multi-player trade in January 2021.
His ten-year deal works out at $210,494 per game, but he has received criticism during his time in New York. Unfortunately, he has failed to win any more major awards since leaving Cleveland.
10. FERNANDO TATIS JR. – $340,000,000 – 2021-2034 – BASEBALL – SAN DIEGO PADRES
Dominican Republic star Fernando Tatís Jr rounds off the top ten with a contract worth a million dollars less than Lindor’s.
One of the hottest prospects in baseball in 2019, Tatís was drafted by the Padres and, just two years later, was named an all-star. To tie “El Niño” down, in 2021, the Padres offered him the longest contract in this list. $24,285,714 per year until 2034, the third biggest baseball contract at the time and now the sixth, thanks partly to his team forking out on Manny Machado.
It has not been plain sailing since then. Tatís missed the whole of the 2022 season due to injury and then tested positive for a performance-enhancing steroid.
11. BRYCE HARPER – $330,000,000 – 2019-2031 – BASEBALL – PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
Baseball loves a long contract, and the joint-second longest in this list is the $330m the Phillies offered Bryce Harper in 2019.
The designated hitter (DH) from Las Vegas was named an all-star six times in his seven seasons with the Washington Nationals before becoming a free agent in 2018.
When the Phillies signed him in March 2019, his $25,384,615 was the largest in the MLB until current record holder Mike Trout was given $100m more than him. Far too used to playing in the capital city, Harper accidentally said at his Philadelphia unveiling, “We want to bring a title back to D.C.” Whoops! The Nationals then won the 2019 World Series without him!
12. COREY SEAGER – $325,000,000 – 2022-2031 – BASEBALL – TEXAS RANGERS
The Dallas-Fort Worth franchise made shortstop Corey Seager their highest-paid player ever prior to the 2022 season, sending $32.5m his way per year.
Seager impressed in his first two years in the majors, being named an all-star both times with the LA Dodgers. After becoming a free agent, the Rangers won the race to his signature, breaking the franchise record deal that had stood since Alex Rodriguez was handed a $252m contract back in 2000.
13. GIANCARLO STANTON – $325,000,000 – 2015-2027 – BASEBALL – MIAMI MARLINS
Like Bryce Harper, another designated hitter with a 13-year deal is Giancarlo Stanton, formerly of the Miami Marlins.
Five years after being drafted by the Marlins, the now five-time all-star was given an extension ahead of the 2015 season, which, at the time, made him the top earner in the MLB.
Stanton only saw out three seasons of that contract. Despite a 50-homer season in 2017, he became the first reigning MVP since 1993 to change teams as he left for the New York Yankees.
14. GERRIT COLE – $324,000,000 – 2020-2028 – BASEBALL – NEW YORK YANKEES
The second Yankee to make the list is the MLB’s highest-earning pitcher, Gerrit Cole.
The right-hander began with the Pittsburgh Pirates, then spent one year with Houston Astros before the New York franchise offered what was then their record contract, $324m, before the 2020 season.
The $36m the six-time all-star earns per year is bettered only by his teammate, Aaron Judge.
15. RAFAEL DEVERS – $313,500,000 – 2024-2033 – BASEBALL – BOSTON RED SOX
Rounding off the top 15 is a sports contract that is yet to begin.
Rafael Devers has been with the Red Sox since being drafted in 2017, winning the World Series a year later. The Dominican third baseman signed a one-year deal in January this year but also agreed to a ten-year deal that comes into effect next season.
The 2021 Silver Slugger can look forward to taking $193,519 home per game from 2024.
|#1||LIONEL MESSI||$674,000,000||SOCCER||FC BARCELONA||2017-21|
|#3||PATRICK MAHOMES||$503,000,000||FOOTBALL||KANSAS CITY CHIEFS||2020-31|
|#4||MIKE TROUT||$426,500,000||BASEBALL||LA ANGELS||2019-30|
|#6||MOOKIE BETTS||$365,000,000||BASEBALL||LA DODGERS||2021-32|
|#7||AARON JUDGE||$360,000,000||BASEBALL||NEW YORK YANKEES||2023-31|
|#8||MANNY MACHADO||$350,000,000||BASEBALL||SAN DIEGO PADRES||2023-34|
|#9||FRANCISCO LINDOR||$341,000,000||BASEBALL||NEW YORK METS||2022-31|
|#10||FERNANDO TATIS JR.||$340,000,000||BASEBALL||SAN DIEGO PADRES||2021-34|
|#11||BRYCE HARPER||$330,000,000||BASEBALL||PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES||2019-31|
|#12||COREY SEAGER||$325,000,000||BASEBALL||TEXAS RANGERS||2022-31|
|#13||GIANCARLO STANTON||$325,000,000||BASEBALL||MIAMI MARLINS||2015-27|
|#14||GERRIT COLE||$324,000,000||BASEBALL||NEW YORK YANKEES||2020-2028|
|#15||RAFAEL DEVERS||$313,500,000||BASEBALL||BOSTON RED SOX||2024-33|
BIGGEST SPORTS CONTRACTS EVER BY SPORT
We have seen baseball dominate the top 15, although soccer takes the first two places. But how do other sports compare? Here are the biggest contracts for the most popular sports!
1. MIKE TROUT – $426,500,000 – 2019-2030 – LOS ANGELES ANGELS
2. MOOKIE BETTS – $365,000,000 – 2021-2032 – LOS ANGELES ANGELS
3. AARON JUDGE – $360,000,000 – 2023-2031 – NEW YORK YANKEES
4. MANNY MACHADO – $350,000,000 – 2023-2034 – SAN DIEGO PADRES
5. FRANCISCO LINDOR – $341,000,000 – 2022-2031 – NEW YORK METS
1. PATRICK MAHOMES – $503,000,000 – 2020-2031 – KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
2. LAMAR JACKSON – $260,000,000 – 2023-2027 – BALTIMORE RAVENS
3. JOSH ALLEN – $258,000,000 – 2021-2028 – BUFFALO BILLS
4. JALEN HURTS – $255,000,000 – 2023-2027 – PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
5. RUSSELL WILSON – $242,588,236 – 2022-2026 – DENVER BRONCOS
1. LIONEL MESSI – $674,000,000 – 2017-2021 – FC BARCELONA
2. CRISTIANO RONALDO – $536,336,818 – 2023-2025 – AL-NASSR
3. NEYMAR – $263,000,000 – 2017-2023 – PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN
4. KYLIAN MBAPPE – $223,462,762 – 2022-2025 – PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN
5. CRISTIANO RONALDO – $225,000,000 – 2018-2021 – REAL MADRID
1. NIKOLA JOKIC – $264,000,000 – 2023-2028 – DENVER NUGGETS
2. BRADLEY BEAL – $251,000,000 – 2022-2027 – WASHINGTON WIZARDS
3. GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO – $228,200,830 – 2021-2026 – MILWAUKEE BUCKS
4. JAMES HARDEN – $228,000,000 – 2017-2023 – HOUSTON ROCKETS
5. KARL-ANTHONY TOWNS – $224,000,000 – 2024-2028 – MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES
5. DEVIN BOOKER – $224,000,000 – 2024-2028 – PHOENIX SUNS
1. CANELO ÁLVAREZ – $365,000,000 – 2018-2023 – DAZN – 11 FIGHTS
2. TYSON FURY – $250,000,000 – active – ESPN – 5 FIGHTS
3. DEONTAY WILDER – $75,000,000 – active – ESPN – 5 FIGHTS
4. MANNY PACQUIAO – $35,000,000 – active – SHOWTIME – 2 FIGHTS
5. GENNADIY GOLOVKIN – $25,000,000 – active – DAZN – 2 FIGHTS
RACING SPORTS CONTRACTS
1. MAX VERSTAPPEN – $275,000,000 – 2023-2028 – RED BULL RACING
2. KIMI RAIKONNEN – $153,000,000 – 2007-2009 – FERRARI
3. SEBASTIAN VETTEL -$150,000,000 – 2018-2020 – FERRARI
4. LEWIS HAMILTON – $147,000,000 – 2021-2023 – MERCEDES
5. FERNANDO ALONSO – $120,000,000 – 2010-2012 – FERRARI
1. PAT CUMMINS – $2,000,000 per year – AUSTRALIA
2. DAVID WARNER – $1,500,000 per year – AUSTRALIA
3. STEVE SMITH – $1,300,000 per year – AUSTRALIA
4. MARNUS LABUSCHAGNE – $1,200,000 per year – AUSTRALIA
5. VIRAT KOHLI – $846,000,000 per year – INDIA
1. ALEX OVECHKIN – $124,000,000 – 2008-2021 – WASHINGTON CAPITALS
2. SHEA WEBER – $110,000,000 – 2012-2026 – NASHVILLE PREDATORS
3. SIDNEY CROSBY – $104,400,000 – 2013-2025 – PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
4. CONOR MCDAVID – $100,000,000 – 2018-2026 – EDMONTON OILERS
5. ILYA KOVALCHUK – $100,000,000 – 2010-2025 – NEW JERSEY DEVILS