Nigerian-born Giannis Antetokounmpo named among world’s highest-earning athletes

Greek-Nigerian basketball player Giannis Antetokounmpo, representing the Milwaukee Bucks in the National Basketball Association (NBA), has been named one of the world’s highest-earning athletes in Forbes’ 2024 rankings.

Positioned fifth on this prestigious list, Giannis boasts a combined annual income of $111 million, derived from both his on-court endeavors and off-court ventures.

Forbes’ assessment puts Giannis’ estimated on-field earnings at $46 million, supplemented by an off-field income of $65 million. His ranking places him behind basketball icon LeBron James, who secured the fourth spot with earnings totaling $128.2 million.

Joining an esteemed cadre of athletes, Giannis finds himself in the company of soccer champion Lionel Messi, ranked third with earnings of $135 million, and golfer Jon Rahm, occupying the second position with a substantial $218 million in income. Topping the list is soccer sensation Cristiano Ronaldo, whose earnings soar to an estimated $260 million, primarily attributed to his $200 million annual salary with Al Nassr, a club in the Saudi Pro League.

Despite contending with a calf injury that truncated his season with the Milwaukee Bucks, Giannis remains resilient. Enduring a turbulent campaign marked by a midseason coaching change and an early playoff exit for his team, Giannis has continued to ascend off the court.

In January, he launched his production company, followed by a partnership with Pepsi’s Starry soft drink in February. Additionally, Giannis is set to unveil his sixth signature sneaker with Nike later this year, further solidifying his burgeoning off-court endeavors.

What to know

Giannis Sina Ugo Antetokounmpo (Adetokunbo), from Athens and born to Nigerian parents, commenced his basketball journey with the youth teams of Filathlitikos in his hometown. He joined the club’s senior team in 2011, preceding his entry into the NBA draft in 2013, where the Milwaukee Bucks secured him as the 15th overall pick.

In the 2016–17 NBA season, Antetokounmpo distinguished himself by leading the Bucks across all major statistical categories, a notable feat in league history. This accomplishment established his footing within the NBA landscape, earning him the Most Improved Player award in 2017.

So far, Giannis has garnered eight All-Star selections, notably captaining the All-Star team in 2019, 2020, 2023, and 2024, reflecting his immense popularity and influence within the basketball community. His career reached new heights with back-to-back NBA Most Valuable Player Awards in 2019 and 2020, a distinction shared only with basketball stars Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James.

More insight

In a historic feat, Antetokounmpo clinched the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award in 2020, joining an elite echelon alongside Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon as the only players to achieve both MVP and Defensive Player of the Year accolades in a single season. His crowning came in 2021, leading the Bucks to their first NBA championship in five decades while securing the Finals MVP title.

Off the court, Giannis’ commercial prowess has been equally eye-catching. In December 2020, he penned a monumental five-year, $228 million supermax extension with the Bucks, supplemented by a subsequent three-year extension in October 2023. His on-court accolades triggered substantial bonuses from sponsors such as Nike, which further solidified their partnership.

Nike’s endorsement of Giannis brought in the groundbreaking release of the Zoom Freak 1 in 2019, marking the largest initial signature shoe launch in Nike basketball history. Moreover, Disney secured the rights to develop a film based on Antetokounmpo’s life, reminiscent of the acclaimed “The Blind Side.” The resultant film, titled “Rise,” premiered on Disney+ in June 2022.




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