Sport is currently one of the most popular forms of entertainment worldwide. With thousands of options to choose from, a select few sports pull ahead as the most obvious favorites.
First, a few fun facts:
Annual Revenue: $28 Billion
This sport has over 3 billion fans worldwide, many of whom follow it with almost religious fervor. Events like the World Cup draw in massive amounts of revenue for it’s governing body FIFA and elevate players to super-star status. David Beckham parlayed his soccer success into a net worth of $300 Million.
Annual Revenue: $312 Million
While this sport never caught on in America it has a devoted following in most of the rest of the English speaking world having been spread during colonial times. It boasts approximately 2.5 Billion fans. One of the most successful cricketers of all time, Mahindra Singh, has a net worth of $30 Million.
Annual Revenue: $5 Billion
Where many of the tallest athletes can be found, basketball has a little over two billion fans. Most of these are from North America and some parts of Asia. With a strong history of endorsement deals, basketball players are often well paid. One of the wealthiest, Kobe Bryant, is worth an estimated $220 Million.
Annual Revenue: $3.3 Billion
Although made up of what could credibly be argued are two separate sports, hockey on both the field and ice commands a following of approximately 2 billion fans. Predictably fans in warmer climates favor field hockey while those in colder climates prefer the ice version. The sport’s wealthiest athlete to date is Jaromir Jagr with a net worth of $118 million.
Both the single and double versions of tennis have amassed a following of about 1 billion fans worldwide. The male and female leagues have comparable fans and endorsement opportunities which is rare in the sporting world. The world’s wealthiest male player, Roger Federer, has a net worth of $180 Million. The world’s wealthiest female player, Serena Williams, boasts a net worth of $100 Million.
Another popular team sport, volleyball has approximately 900 Million fans. It comes in beach, water and indoor varieties. Women’s volleyball is actually the significantly more popular version. Volleyball’s wealthiest athlete is Gabrielle Reece with a net worth of $10 Million.
This sport is played on a board rather than a court. Its fans number approximately 860 Million worldwide. The wealthiest table tennis player to date is Zhang Jike with a net worth of $1.6 Million.
Annual Revenue: $7.5 Billion
America’s national pastime boasts about 500 Million fans worldwide. Its popularity may not be as high as it once was but its remaining fans are dedicated. The sport’s richest player is Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees with a net worth if $300 Million.
Annual Revenue: $9 Billion
Unlike soccer, this hand based game has approximately 400 Million fans, the majority of which hail from the United States. Its popularity extends from the college level to the professional leagues. American football’s richest active player is Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos. His net worth is estimated at $125 Million.
Annual Revenue: $780 Million
The list ends with rugby which boasts 390 Million fans. The majority of these fans are located in France, England, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. The richest rugby player is currently Johnny Wilkinson of Toulon. His net worth stands at $23 Million.
With this much revenue on the line, sports go far beyond enjoyment and into the realm of big business. Competition for the top spots may be fierce but the many millionaires and even a few billionaires who owe their fortune to sport show that it is indeed possible.