Where Do Your Favorite Stars and Teams Fall on Forbes' 100 Highest-Paid Athletes in 2020?

Jordan Cohn
June 02, 2020 - 9:08 am

Forbes’ annual list of the highest-paid athletes within a respective year, from June 1 to June 1, is always interesting. It’s fun to see who’s overpaid relative to the talent around them, which notable names are left off the list, which perennial appearances fall off, and which newcomers arrive.

This year’s list is particularly interesting though, and it’s not hard to imagine why.

The sports world has been in a state of disarray ever since the coronavirus pandemic took its toll on the industry as a whole, and player contracts and salaries were thrust to the forefront of the conversation. In fact, the very title of the 2020 highest-paid athletes list on Forbes serves as a reminder: “Coronavirus Cuts Paydays For The Sporting Elite” sets a precedent for what numerical figures you’re about to see.

In the methodology section, Kurt Badenhausen and the rest of the excellent Forbes staff note that prize money, salaries and bonuses are all a part of the rankings, as usual, but that other measures are taken into account. For instance, overall NBA salaries were reduced by 25% to account for the delayed season, and European soccer players are few and far between on the list due to the massive salary cuts.

Because the NFL season occurred in full, those salaries are all present, and this serves as part of the reason why there are 31 NFL players on this year’s list as opposed to 19 on last year’s. The other big reason? MLB Players may not get paid at all for April and May 2020 if there is no season, meaning that their full salaries are not represented in the rankings. Only one player made the list this year in comparison to 15 last season.

Some of the rankings may seem odd, but the timing makes it so. Kyler Murray, for example, received a larger signing bonus than Quinnen Williams. Murray does not appear on the list, but Williams does. That's because Murray signed his contract before June 2019, the cutoff for this list, thus nullifying his eligibility.

Where do your favorite superstars rank? Which cities boast the highest-paid athletes of 2020? Which fan bases cringe at the thought of certain athletes making so much cash?

Let’s take a look.

All numbers retrieved from Forbes. Athletes will be ranked according to their current team, even if the money came from another city over the past year. Not all athletes on list shown. Total in parentheses is the sum of top-100 athletes’ earnings.

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