A list of the top richest sports contracts to ever be made

A list of the top richest sports contracts to ever be made

Kevin Omuya
January 26, 2023 at 7:44 AM

These genuinely elite megadeals have been signed by a diverse group of athletes, including some of the best footballers in the world and the best talents from the United States' most popular sports leagues. Surprisingly, Major League Baseball has more players with the richest sports contracts than the NFL or NBA, despite the MLS's lower international image.

Richest sports contracts
Lionel Messi of PSG is in action during the preseason friendly match between Paris Saint-Germain and Kawasaki Frontale at National Stadium on July 20, 2022, in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: Hiroki Watanabe
Source: Getty Images

Top players in today's leagues are no longer required to hold a second job during the summer. Once unheard of, nine-figure contracts are now the standard for the most prominent athletes.

What is the richest contract in sports history?

The duration of some of the larger contracts is more than a decade. These are the top 10 richest sports contracts.

10. Corey Seager - 10 years, $325 million

Richest sports contracts in the world
Corey Seager, #5 of the Texas Rangers, runs to second base during the first inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on September 06, 2022, in Houston, Texas. Photo: Carmen Mandato
Source: Getty Images

The 10-year, $325 million contract signed by Corey Seager ranks as the tenth-largest in sports history. Corey Seager was prepared to brave the waters of free agency in 2021 after a stellar 2020 season that saw him win both the National League Championship Series and World Series MVP awards.

The Charlotte, North Carolina-born player accepted the Texas Rangers' offer, the tenth-highest in professional sports history because Los Angeles did not make him a substantial multi-year agreement.

9. Giancarlo Stanton - 13 years, $325 million

What is the richest contract in sports history
Giancarlo Stanton #27 of the New York Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Wednesday, October 19, 2022, in Houston, Texas. Photo: Logan Riely/MLB
Source: Getty Images

Giancarlo Stanton's 13-year, $325 million contract, signed in 2015, is the longest of the MLB contracts listed here. The Miami Marlins saw Stanton's potential as a franchise player and gave him the largest deal in sports history after another season in which he hit a league-leading number of home runs.

After two successful seasons with the Miami Marlins, Stanton was sent to the New York Yankees in the third year of his contract. Stanton has become a star player, earning All-Star Game MVP honours and a reputation as a clutch hitter with tremendous power.

8. Bryce Harper - 13 years, $330 million

Highest paid sports contract in the world
Bryce Harper #3 of the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Thursday, November 3, 2022, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo: Rob Tringali
Source: Getty Images

The Philadelphia Phillies signed right fielder Bryce Harper to a 13-year, $330 million contract, making him the highest-paid player in Major League Baseball history at the time. When Bryce Harper announced in 2019 that he would be signing with the Philadelphia Phillies, their division opponents in the National League East, he caused quite a stir.

Since signing his new deal, Bryce Harper has remained on top of his game, and in 2021, he won his second National League MVP award.

7. Fernando Tatis Jr. - 14 years, $340 million

Who has the highest paid contract in sports history
Fernando Tatis Jr. #23 of the San Diego Padres before a game against the Cleveland Guardians on August 23, 2022, at Petco Park in San Diego, California. Photo: Denis Poroy
Source: Getty Images

The Major League Baseball (MLB) finalized its newest mega-contract, a 14-year, $340 million deal with Fernando Tatis Jr. The San Diego Padres signed Tatis Jr. to one of the richest deals in sports history after he had a breakout season in 2020, drawing attention from teams all over the league.

In addition to a $10 million signing bonus, Fernando will receive several perks from the Padres organization, including four first-class season tickets and a luxury suite at Petco Park.

6. Francisco Lindor - 10 years, $341 million

Top 10 richest sports contracts
Francisco Lindor, #12 of the New York Mets, returns to the dugout during the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Trust Park on October 1, 2022, in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo: Todd Kirkland
Source: Getty Images

Francisco Lindor signed a 10-year, $341 million contract with the New York Mets in 2021, leaving the Cleveland Guardians after seven seasons. With a $30.4 million annual salary and a $21 million signing bonus, Lindor has the second-highest average value in MLB history. The Puerto Rican slugger hit 46 home runs in his first two seasons after signing his contract.

5. Mookie Betts - 12 years, $365 million

Biggest sports contracts all time
Mookie Betts #50 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on September 19, 2022, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo: Ronald Martinez
Source: Getty Images

The Los Angeles Dodgers signed Mookie Betts to a 12-year, $365 million agreement in July 2020 after acquiring him in a trade in February 2020. After signing his deal, Betts went to work, earning Los Angeles its first World Series triumph since 1988. The six-time MLB All-Star Betts joined the ranks of the MLB's top 15 highest-paid players with the signing bonus and deal he signed.

4. Max Verstappen - 5 years, $275 million

Richest sports owners
Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrates at Yas Marina Circuit on November 20, 2022, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Photo: Mario Renzi
Source: Getty Images

At the start of March 2022, Max Verstappen signed a five-year, $275 million contract deal with Red Bull Racing. After winning his first F1 championship and ending Lewis Hamilton's four-year dominance of the sport, the Dutch driver signed a contract extension. Verstappen has the potential to become one of the best-paid drivers in Formula 1 history while being one of the youngest and most promising racers in the circuit.

3. Mike Trout - 12 years, $426.5 million

Richest sports contracts
Mike Trout, #27 of the Los Angeles Angels, looks on during the game against the Oakland Athletics at RingCentral Coliseum on October 04, 2022, in Oakland, California. Photo: Lachlan Cunningham
Source: Getty Images

The 12-year, $426.5 million contract that Mike Trout signed with the Los Angeles Angels in 2019 was also the largest in sports history. Mike Trout's great play over the years led to this contract.

The center fielder has won seven Silver Slugger Awards and two Hank Aaron Awards and was named American League MVP twice before signing his new contract. Trout's 10-year, $330 million contract will make him a franchise cornerstone for the foreseeable future.

2. Patrick Mahomes - 10 years, $503 million

Richest sports contracts in the world
Patrick Mahomes, #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs, runs off the field after the first half against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on January 07, 2023, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: Chris Unger
Source: Getty Images

After Patrick Mahomes led the Kansas City Chiefs to a Super Bowl LIV victory in 2019, the team rewarded him with a 10-year, $503 million contract extension. While the figures may not look great, the contract is believed to be very team-friendly because Mahomes' compensation will only account for a minimal percentage of the salary limit in future seasons.

1. Lionel Messi - 4 years, $673 million

What is the richest contract in sports history?
Leo Messi of Paris Saint-Germain warms up before the Ligue 1 match between Stade Rennes and Paris Saint-Germain at Roazhon Park on January 15, 2023, in Rennes, France. Photo: Aurelien Meunier
Source: Getty Images

Details of Lionel Messi's four-year, $673 million deal with FC Barcelona were only revealed after the Argentine player's departure. After another outstanding season with the team that helped shape him, Messi signed this contract in 2017, which made him the biggest sports contract of all time.

The contract extension was supposed to be routine, but Messi ended up leaving the club in the summer of 2021, even though it was supposed to be for only one more year. Messi tops the list of players with the richest sports contracts in the world.

Who has the highest-paid contract in sports history?

The highest-paid sports contract in the world is currently held by Los Angeles Lakers basketball player LeBron James, who signed a four-year, $153.3 million contract in 2018. This contract includes $39.2 million in salary for the 2020-2021 season.

Who is the richest sports owner?

Who is the richest sports owner?
Austin Rivers #25 of the Minnesota Timberwolves with LA Clippers owner Steve Ballmer on October 9, 2022, at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Andrew D. Bernstein
Source: Getty Images

Forbes lists Steve Ballmer, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, as the wealthiest sports club owner as of 2022, with a net worth of $83 billion. Rob Walton, the new owner of the Denver Broncos, ranked second with a $56.7 billion fortune.

Being a professional athlete is challenging, despite the high salaries and top richest sports contracts being offered. To even get close to the stars, you need to develop enormous amounts of skill, determination, laser-like focus, and sacrifice.

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Kevin Omuya
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