First to Billion

Which athletes are on course to become billionaires?

Sportspeople at the top of their game are very handsomely rewarded for their efforts on the field or court, earning eye-watering sums that us mere mortals could barely even dream of.

However, for all their riches, none of today’s sporting stars has actually joined the ‘three comma club’ by reaching a valuation of over a billion dollars.

In fact, the only sportsperson who currently has an estimated net worth of over $1 billion is the long-retired Michael Jordan, whose business career and endorsement deals with the likes of Nike have seen him reach an estimated net worth of $2.2 billion.

The athletes on course to become billionaires

So, out of the current crop of athletes, who is on cours to join MJ the quickest? We’ve tried to estimate just that, by taking their current net worth and their earnings in the last year, to calculate when they would reach a valuation of $1 billion.

Of course, this assumes that they would continue to earn the same amount each year, which is unlikely once an athlete has retired, although as we’ve seen in the case of Michael Jordan (and others such as David Beckham and Floyd Mayweather Jr.), the top athletes can still continue to bring in a healthy income even after they’ve hung up their boots, through business ventures, sponsorships, coaching, media appearances and so on.


Tiger Woods

Estimated time to earn $1bn:

3 years, 3 months

Estimated age at $1bn valuation:


Cristiano Ronaldo

Estimated time to earn $1bn:

4 years, 9 months

Estimated age at $1bn valuation:


Roger Federer

Estimated time to earn $1bn:

5 years, 2 months

Estimated age at $1bn valuation:

Key Estimated time to earn $1bn Estimated age at $1bn valuation

Name, Sport











Annual income

Net worth


We looked at the 100 highest-paid athletes in the world for 2019-2020, according to Forbes’ list of the World’s Highest-Paid Athletes.

For each, we took their annual earnings for the year (including both salary/winnings and endorsements) from Forbes and calculated how long it would take them to reach a valuation of $1 billion, based on their current net worth, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

Of course, these are only estimates, which assume that the athletes will continue to earn the same amount which they earnt this year, and there are many other factors that will affect the earnings of each individual over the course of their careers.