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21 Richest Athletes 25 and Under

Amber LeeSports Lists Lead WriterSeptember 9, 2013

21 Richest Athletes 25 and Under

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    Of the richest athletes in the world, most of them are above the age of 30. Of those under the age of 30, the vast majority are between 27 and 29. Only a handful of athletes age 25 and under are considered among the elite earners in sports today.

    That's because the early-to-mid 20s is when an athlete generally pays his dues, proving his worth and improving his game. If all goes according to plan, he should be rewarded with a contract—sometimes the first, and often the last—rich enough to (theoretically) carry him well into retirement.

    That being said, there are a few standout athletes who become peak earners well before reaching the peak of their abilities—they're just that good. Or they're just that overpaid. But most of them are really just that good.

    Either way, there are at least 21 athletes today age 25 or under who are making the big big bucks. And they've all been neatly assembled within this list for your viewing pleasure.

    *Please note that in the interest of continuity, any athlete 25 years old on January 1, 2013 was eligible for inclusion on this list. Wealth assessment was based on earnings this year, or throughout the 2013-14 season—whichever was applicable to the individual athlete.

    Now that we've got nitty-gritty details out of the way, let's get to it.

Andrew Bynum, Cleveland Cavaliers

2 of 22

    Age: 25

    Salary: $12,395,000 ($6 million guaranteed)

    Endorsements: $0.3 million

    Length/Worth Current Contract: Two years, $25.8 million

    It's pretty stunning that we haven't seen former Lakers big man Andrew Bynum on the court since the 2012 playoffs, yet someone how that hasn't significantly impacted his earning power. He is certainly earning less this season than he has in recent years—Bynum made $16.9 million riding the bench for the Sixers in 2012-13.

    But his salary for this upcoming season is absolutely nothing to sneeze at. Whether he meets the incentives that pay him the full amount or just earns the base salary, Bynum will still be among the highest paid athletes (of his age) in the world.


Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens

3 of 22

    Age: 26 (as of January 22nd)

    Salary: $7 million (average), $5.75 million (in 2013)

    Endorsements: $1.6 million

    Length/Worth Current Contract: Five years, $35 million

    Hey diddle diddle, Ray Rice up the middle—with a boatload of cash. In July 2012 the Ravens running back was signed to a very well-deserved five-year extension, which paid him nearly $17 million in its first year.

    Rice's salary last season was high enough to put him 33rd among the World's Highest-Paid Athletes. However, that was likely a one-time thing as his paycheck settles into a more reasonable range through the duration of his deal.

Rolando McClain, NFL Free Agent

4 of 22

    Age: 24

    Salary: $16.5 million (in 2012), $7,260,000 (in 2013)

    Endorsements: 0

    Length/Worth Current Contract: One year, $7.26 million

    Ah yes—Rolando McClain is one of the Raiders' many not-so-solid investments of the last decade. In April 2013 the team finally cut ties with the troubled linebacker who they drafted No. 8 overall out of Alabama in 2010.

    McClain had been unproductive on the field in Oakland his first two seasons, but he kept busy off the field by getting arrested. One particularly horrifying incident in December 2011 really called into question McClain's potential risk vs. reward.

    Although he is (at least temporarily) retired from the league, the Raiders are still on the hook for salary through the end of the year. Because of course they are.

Russell Okung, Seattle Seahawks

5 of 22

    Age: 25

    Salary: $8,083,333 (average), $9,540,000 (in 2013)

    Endorsements: $0.3 million

    Length/Worth Current Contract: Six years, $48 million

    Seahawks left tackle Russell Okung was plagued by injuries which kept him out of 10 games his first two seasons in Seattle. However, he rebounded in a big way, starting 15 of 16 games in 2012.

    You can bet the added production helped the Seahawks feel comfortable paying him a salary that put him among the World's 100 Highest-Paid Athletes in 2012.

Mario Balotelli, AC Milan

6 of 22

    Age: 23

    Salary: $6 million

    Endorsements: $4 million

    Length/Worth Current ContractFour years, $25 million

    In January 2013 striker Mario Balotelli was transferred from Manchester City in the Premier League to the Serie A club, AC Milan. Known for his outlandish hijinks, he has reportedly already amassed a net worth of $25 million.

    Balotelli's most lucrative endorsement deal is with Nike, specifically their Hypervenom football boots.

Eric Berry, Kansas City Chiefs

7 of 22

    Age: 24

    Salary: $8,340,717 (average), $10,211,700 (in 2013)

    Endorsements: $0.3 million

    Length/Worth Current Contract: Six years, $50 million

    One of a handful of athletes on this list that was drafted and signed prior to the NFL's rookie wage scale, Chiefs safety Eric Berry was signed to a deal in 2010 that could pay him upwards of $60 million (including signing bonuses) when all is said and done.

    Berry's contract made him the highest-paid safety in league history—and that was as a rookie. You can bet that rankled a lot of veterans. He has since been supplanted by Steelers vet Troy Polamalu, but remains the second highest-paid at his position in the NFL.

Ndamukong Suh, Detroit Lions

8 of 22

    Age: 26 (as of January 6th)

    Salary: $13,078,941 (average), $10,492,500 (in 2013)

    Endorsements: $0.5 million

    Length/Worth Current Contract: Five years, $65.4 million

    Having negotiated extensions with wide receiver Calvin Johnson and quarterback Matt Stafford recently, Lions are expected to address defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh's contract at some point. It didn't get done over the summer, but is likely to be a top priority in 2014.

    Currently Suh is set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2016. However, if his contract is not extended/restructured by next March, his total salary next year will total over $21 million for the Lions. That's quite an incentive to get the deal done.

Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams

9 of 22

    Age: 25

    Salary: $13 million (average), $12,595,500 (in 2013)

    Endorsements: $1 million

    Length/Worth Current Contract: Six years, $78,045,000

    Rams quarterback Sam Bradford entered the league one year prior to the implementation the rookie wage scale in 2011, which allowed him to sign the richest rookie contract in NFL history.

    One year later the Panthers selected Cam Newton No. 1 overall—he cost them $56 million less and signed him for just four years. What a difference a year makes.

     

Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

10 of 22

    Age: 26 (as of August 7th)

    Salary: $8.7 million (average), $12 million (in 2013)

    Endorsements: $4 million

    Length/Worth Current Contract12 years, $104.4 million

    In June 2012 Penguins superstar center Sidney Crosby finalized terms on a 12-year contract worth nearly $105 million—all of which is guaranteed—that will keep him in Pittsburgh through 2024-25. Or the end of his career—whichever should come first.

    Although the Pens' cap hit will be $8.7 million throughout the life of the deal, Crosby's base salary is actually front-loaded. He'll earn $12 million the next three seasons, $10.6 in the next three and then $9.2 the next three.

    Crosby will earn "just" three million in the final three seasons of his career. Assuming he's still playing.
    He is currently the highest-paid player in the NHL and should be for quite some time.

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions

11 of 22

    Age: 25

    Salary: $15,300,000 (average), $17,820,000 (in 2013)

    Endorsements: $1 million

    Length/Worth Current Contract: Five years, $76.5 million

    In July 2013 the Lions extended quarterback Matt Stafford's contract by three years, locking him up through 2017. That puts him in Detroit for eight years with a base salary and signing bonus that will top $20 million in the final two years.

    Pretty rich for a guy who has made the playoffs just once in his career—and lost big time when he did.

Sebastian Vettel, Formula One

12 of 22

    Age: 26 (as of July 3rd)

    Salary: $17 million

    Endorsements: $1 million

    Length/Worth Current Contract: N/A

    Sebastian Vettel is a German Formula One driver who is currently under contract with Red Bull, having committed to drive for them through 2014. Despite relatively meager endorsement earnings, the prize money and bonuses he has collected from a number of recent wins placed him at No. 89 among the World's Highest-Paid Athletes in 2013.

    With his current deal set to expire within the year, Forbes reports Ferrari as the "likely suitor" for Vettel's future services. Which would likely make him among the highest earning drivers in the world.

Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

13 of 22

    Age: 24

    Salary: $15,719,062 (average), $14,693,906 (in 2013)

    Endorsements: $3 million

    Length/Worth Current Contract: Five years, $78.6 million

    In January 2012 the Thunder answered any questions as to whether or not point guard Russell Westbrook could play with superstar Kevin Durant long-term by offering him a five-year maximum extension.

    That deal will pay him upwards of $80 million through 2017, when he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

Neymar, FC Barcelona

14 of 22

    Age: 21

    Salary: $10.5 million

    Endorsements: $10 million

    Length/Worth Current Contract: Five years, $74 million

    Neymar may be just 21 years old, but in June 2013 the Barcelona star signed a five-year contact with the club that was worth $74 million—which will be split between him and three companies that own a share of his rights.

    That's still a pretty penny for this budding young star who nearly doubles his annual salary with income from various endorsement deals. Neymar is currently the 68th highest-paid athlete in the world—imagine where he'll be at 28.

Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers

15 of 22

    Age: 24

    Salary: $18,907,725 (average), $16,441,500 (in 2013)

    Endorsements: Unknown—likely well over $5 million

    Length/Worth Current Contract: Five years, $94.6 million

    In July 2012 Clippers power forward Blake Griffin signed a very lucrative extension that will keep him in Los Angeles through the 2017-18 season. His salary is set to bump up by approximately $1 million each year through the life of the contract.

    Griffin has a number of high profile endorsements with Subway, Kia, Vizio, Jordan Brand and AT&T—among others—but the exact worth of the deals is unknown. That being said, $5 million is a modest estimate of his yearly earnings, when in reality it's possible Griffin brings in double that.

Sergio Aguero, Manchester City

16 of 22

    Age: 25

    Salary: $17.4 million

    Endorsements: $3.5 million

    Length/Worth Current ContractFour years, $58 million

    In May 2013 Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero signed a one-year extension to his contract that will keep him with the club until 2017. Over the life of the deal he will be paid, on average, over $15 million per year.

    Aguero's salary alone will keep him among the world's highest-paid athletes for the next several years. Any additional endorsements on top of what he has already secured are just gravy.

Maria Sharapova, Tennis

17 of 22

    Age: 26 (as of April 19th)

    Salary: $6 million

    Endorsements: $23 million

    Length/Worth Current Contract: N/A

    Russian tennis beauty Maria Sharapova is one of the only female athletes who routinely ranks among the World's Highest-Paid Athletes. Her earnings from winning fluctuate wildly from year-to-year, but her endorsement earnings have been ticking upward for nearly a decade.

    The $26 million Sharapova has earned in prize money over her career puts her third on the all-time list, right behind Venus and Serena Williams. Her major endorsements include Samsung, TAG Heuer, Evian, Porsche and Nike.


Rory McIlroy, PGA

18 of 22

    Age: 24

    Salary: $13.6 million

    Endorsements: $16 million

    Length/Worth Current Contract: N/A

    Behind Americans Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, Irishman Rory McIlroy is the third highest-paid golfer in the world and currently ranks No. 21 on Forbes' list of the World's Highest-Paid Athletes.

    Considering McIlroy's age and the fact that he jumped an epic 70 places on the list in a single year (he was ranked No. 91 in 2012), it won't be long before he supplants both Woods and Mickelson, both more than a decade older than him.

Novak Djokovic, Tennis

19 of 22

    Age: 26 (as of May 22nd)

    Salary: $12.9 million

    Endorsements: $14 million

    Length/Worth Current Contract: N/A

    Serbian tennis great Novak Djokovic has been the most dominant force in the sport since 2011, having won five Grand Slams (perhaps six, depending on the outcome of the 2013 U.S. Open Finals) and raked in upwards of $30 million in prize money.

    Djokovic has a number of lucrative endorsement deals, including Adidas and Mercedes-Benz. In 2012 he was ranked the No. 61 among the World's Highest-Paid Athletes and a year later had climbed to No. 28.

Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

20 of 22

    Age: 24

    Salary: $17,832,627 (average), $17,832,627 (in 2013-14)

    Endorsements: $14 million

    Length/Worth Current Contract: Five years, $90 million

    Thunder superstar Kevin Durant isn't just one of the richest athletes under 25—he's one of the richest athletes in the world. His current contract keeps him in Oklahoma City through 2016 and pays him over $20 million in his final season alone.

    Add that to the $14 million Durant is collecting in endorsements and you've got quite a heap of money. He was the 34th highest paid athlete in the world in 2012, jumping to 17th in 2013. Expect him to keep climbing that list for at least five more years—and likely for another five after that. 

Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls

21 of 22

    Age: 24

    Salary: $18,862,934 (average), $17,632,743 (in 2013)

    Endorsements: $21 million

    Length/Worth Current Contract: Five years, $94.3 million

    Just because it seems like forever since we last saw Bulls point guard Derrick Rose on the court, that doesn't mean he hasn't been getting paid by the truckload. Don't worry about this kid—his knee should be good to go by the start of the 2013-14 season.

    And in the meantime, there has been a massive truck filled with cash that has been dumping money outside his residence for the last several years. Rose's current contract keeps him in Chicago through 2017, when he becomes an unrestricted free agent—and pays him nearly $100 million over the life of the deal.

Lionel Messi, FC Barcelona

22 of 22

    Age: 26 (as of June 24th)

    Salary: $16 million (average), $20 million (in 2013)

    Endorsements: $21 million

    Length/Worth Current ContractFive years, (approximately) $75 million

    In December 2012 Argentine great Lionel Messi agreed in principle to a two-year extension with Barcelona that will keep him with the club until June 2018. Two months later he signed the contract, no doubt thrilling Barca fans.

    The new deal was Messi's sixth contract renegotiation in just eight years. Talk about giving an athlete all the leverage in the world! That means he should be due for another extension/raise by early summer 2014.

     

    **Speaking of riches! I would consider it an embarrassment of them if you follow me on Twitter:

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