It is no secret that elite-level athletes have the potential to earn ridiculous salaries and bonuses. The sums of money the best players and athletes receive are not only down to those individuals helping their respective teams to succeed but also because they attract massive sponsorship investment in addition to supporters flocking to buy merchandise displaying their heroes’ names and images.

Not all sports reveal what their stars earn. North American sports, such as the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB, are subject to salary cap rules and publicly release athletes’ earnings. However, information about players’ wages sometimes makes it into the public domain.

Did you know that the five largest-ever sporting contracts are worth a staggering $2,504,836,818? That’s more than $2.5 billion! Here are the five superstars that share that astronomical sum.

1. Lionel Messi – Association football – $674,000,000


Lionel Messi is one of the best association football (soccer) players to have played the game. He is always one of the favorites to win the coveted Ballon d’Or, the award given to the World Player of the Year, every season at Messi has won every trophy available for him to win, including the recent 2024 FIFA World Cup with his native Argentina.

Everyone knew Messi earned a vast salary, but the details of his last contract with Barcelona came to light when Barcelona revealed it was under financial pressure. Newspapers published details of the four-year contract Messi signed in 2017, which guaranteed him $674 million, or $168.5 million per year!

2. Cristiano Ronaldo – Association Football – $536,336,818


Cristiano Ronaldo has always been a big earner, but he has secured the most lucrative deal of his career despite being 37 years old. Ronaldo forced a move from Manchester United and signed a two-and-a-half-year contract with Saudi Arabia’s Al-Nassr.

Not only did Al-Nassr award Ronaldo with a $105.5 million signing-on bonus, but they offered him a package worth $536,336,818. That equated to $214,534,727 per year, or $7,151,158 per game if he plays every Al-Nassr fixture.

3. Patrick Mahomes – American football – $503,000,000


Patrick Mahomes put pen to paper on the NFL’s largest-ever contract shortly after guiding the Kansas City Chiefs to Super Bowl glory. Mahomes is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and has the potential to be the greatest ever, which is why the Kansas City Chiefs were keen to tie him down to a long-term deal.

They offered Mahomes a 10-year contract worth a potential $503 million. Obviously, Mahomes put his signature on the dotted line and is now set for life. His contract ends in 2031 when Mahomes will be 36.

4. Mike Trout – Baseball – $426,500,000


Mike Trout is one of baseball’s best-ever players, a center fielder that is a ten-time MLB All-Star and a three-time American League MVP, and a nine-time winner of the Silver Slugger Award.

Trout has played for the Los Angeles Angels since he began his professional career in 2011. His reward for his loyalty and stand-out performances? A 12-year contract worth $426.5 million. Whether or not Trout sees out his contract remains to be seen because it runs until 2030, when he will be 39, which is very old for a baseball player.

5. Canelo Alvarez – Boxing – $365,000,000


Mexican boxer Canelo Alvarez is fifth on this list courtesy of signing a five-year 11-fight deal with broadcaster DAZN. Alvarez agreed to fight exclusively on DAZN’s pay-per-view channel in exchange for $365 million!

Alverez is currently ranked as the world’s best pound-for-pound boxer by BoxRec and the Boxing Writers Association of America. His professional record of 58 wins, 39 by knockout, two draws, and two defeats is incredible.