In a world where cash is king, and contract totals turn a lowly person into a multi-millionaire overnight, the sports industry is one of the fields where the most money can be made in the shortest amount of time possible. And when we talk about making money, we’re talking about making money in a big way, not just small money.
In this ranking we bring you the five richest Latin American athletes in history, who may or may not still be active in their careers today, or those who have somehow become part of the industry through their earnings and investments. Here are the five highest-earning Latino athletes in history.
Richest Latino Athletes in History: Albert Pujols
Still active in the MLB, the Dominican baseball player amasses a fortune of between $170 and $180 million dollars through his career as one of the best hitters in all of baseball history, as well as among any Latin ballplayer. Pujols made his major leagues debut in 2001, and has played a total of 22 seasons as a professional, appearing 12 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers.
His 10-year, $240 million contract with the Angels has been his biggest financial accomplishment, signed heading into the 2012 season, made his one of the largest contracts in baseball history at the time, and along with his on-field accomplishments (two World Series, three MVP awards, 10 All-Star Game selections and more) and his longevity in the sport, he has shaped earnings that could easily end up in the $200 million dollar total over the next few years.
Richest Latino Athletes in History: Neymar
The Brazilian star has undoubtedly been one of the most important players in recent years in European and Latin American soccer, being also the main sports figure in a nation as big as Brazil. The now 30-year-old veteran spent time at clubs such as Santos FC, FC Barcelona and currently, Paris Saint-Germain, and he has amassed $200 and $210 million dollars worth in his career.
As the highest paid player of PSG currently (until Kylian Mbappé decides what to do with his future) his annual salary is close to the figures of $75 and $78 million dollars, which, when added to his income from sponsorships and other businesses, brings it up to almost $100 million dollars annually. For now, he is the highest paid Brazilian athlete in the history of the sport. As a footballer, Neymar has won five domestic leagues, six domestic cups, one Champions League, one Club World Cup, one Olympic medal and one Confederations Cup.
Richest Latino Athletes in History: Oscar De La Hoya
With a 17-year career in the ring spanning 11 world titles in six different weight classes, in which he held all available belts across three different divisions, as well as an Olympic gold medal, the Mexican-American boxer’s career is one of the most illustrious in his sport, being considered among the best fighters of his era.
De La Hoya would finish his career with a 39-6 record, and would form one of the most powerful boxing promotions in the sport today: Golden Boy Promotions, in honor of the nickname he received in his best years as a professional. All this plus other earnings such as pop sensation, sponsorships and other types of businesses have left him with a net worth of between $200 and $300 million dollars. By far the largest fortune for a boxer in history (or until Canelo Álvarez retires, perhaps?).
History’s Richest Latino Athletes: Alex Rodríguez
The most controversial and influential baseball player of his time for better or worse, wherever Alex Rodríguez’s name was read, cameras would be present. At the time, the Dominican-American would become the highest paid athlete in history, signing a $252 million dollar, 10-year contract with the Texas Rangers in 2001, which became at the time the largest contract in sports history, only to be surpassed six years later, signing another 10-year, $275 million dollar pact with the New York Yankees.
Despite the controversies and the numbers, the third baseman/shortstop achieved tremendous success on an individual level: three-time MVP, 14 All-Star Game selections, two Gold Gloves, 10 Silver Sluggers and a World Series with the Yankees in 2009.
Rodríguez proved to be a businessman first and foremost within his legacy, earning a total lifetime value so far of between $300 and $350 million dollars, with his high contracts, sponsorships, investments and other economic operations. He will probably be surpassed by the next generation of baseball players in the major leagues, but the first to reach the top in all aspects beyond the economic one was Alex Rodríguez.
Richest Latino Athletes in History: Lionel Messi
What to say about the Argentine player? Even at 34 years of age, he continues to dazzle on the most important stages of European soccer and with his national team as well: Messi has won it all, with 11 domestic leagues, eight domestic cups, four Champions League titles, three Club World Cups, one Copa América, seven Ballon d’Or, 22 top scorer titles, we could spend the whole note talking about his individual and group achievements, and still we would fall short.
In addition to being one of the most successful and talented soccer players in history, he is undoubtedly the highest paid player in the discipline along with Cristiano Ronaldo. And among Latinos, no one has been better rewarded financially than La Pulga: he has a net worth of around $600 to $700 million dollars, which keeps growing thanks to his high salary ($60 to $70 million dollars), sponsorships, investments, properties and any other type of money-making mechanism. On the field and in the bank account, Messi has no competition in the Latino community, and is by far the highest paid of all times.