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What is the Highest Paid Sport in the World?

Highest Paid Sport

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Everyone knows it pays to be a sports star, but if you’re going to go for the gold then you’ll need to know which sports league pays the largest salary. Once you’ve chosen your highest paying sport to excel in then you’ll need to know which team pays the highest salary!

This article is your guide to riches! Check out the tables below to find out which team you need to get signed on to earn a fortune. We give you the facts, the rest is up to you…

Highest Paying Sports in the World

Basketball is the highest paid sport in the world, with the average annual salary in the NBA in 2023 being nearly $10.5 million. This is more than double the average salary in the NFL, which sits in second place at $4.5 million.

Below is a table of the total salaries paid out from each league to its players, and the average salaries per player as well as the median salaries per year.

American leagues dominate the charts with 4 of the top 5 being in the US. European soccer leagues aren't far behind though with the English Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue 1 all making the top ten.

Here is the full list of the highest paying sports leagues in the world ranked by the average annual player salary in 2023:

LeagueTotal SalariesAverage Salary Per PlayerMedian Salary
NBA$4,683,194,570$10,407,099$4,347,600
NFL$6,745,198,118$4,539,164$860,000
English Premier League$4,156,855,000$4,497,218$2,760,578
MLB$3,397,175,082$4,355,353$1,200,000
NHL$2,554,811,395$3,538,520$2,000,000
La Liga$2,060,307,000$2,228,105$744,378
Bundesliga$1,788,802,000$1,933,292n/a
Serie A$1,771,313,000$1,914,391n/a
Ligue 1$1,286,910,000$1,390,860n/a
MLS$412,101,475$490,597$248,333
WNBA$15,105,471$104,176$72,141

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Highest Paying Sports Teams

Not all teams are created equal with the top teams leveraging huge salaries to bring in the biggest talent in the industry leaving the smaller teams to fight for what’s left.

NBA teams dominate this list - even more so than previous years with NBA salaries continuing to surge some soccer teams have had to scale back on player wages due the impact of COVID on their finances.

Despite that, Real Madrid top the list of the highest paying sports teams, with fellow La Liga side Barcelona also making the top ten. 

Below is a table on the top-paying teams across all leagues in the world.

RankTeamLeagueAverage Annual Salary
1Real MadridLa Liga$13,677,294
2Los Angeles ClippersNBA$13,468,019
3Golden State Warriors
NBA$13,193,720
4Brooklyn Nets
NBA$12,937,946
5Milwaukee Bucks
NBA$12,487,995
6Boston Celtics
NBA$12,443,006
7Los Angeles Lakers
NBA$11,958,012
8Barcelona
La Liga$11,768,960
9Dallas Mavericks
NBA$11,529,696
10Phoenix Suns
NBA$11,396,170
11Denver Nuggets
NBA$11,223,427
12Philadelphia 76ers
NBA$10,888,645

Highest Paying NBA Teams

Real Madrid may have the highest salary bill in all of sports but the NBA dominates the charts in every other way grabbing ten out of the top twelve highest paying teams in the world.

Below is a chart ranking of all the teams in the NBA. It may surprise you to see which teams are shelling out the most dough for their talent.

Rank

Team

Average Annual Salary

1

Los Angeles Clippers

$13,468,019

2

Golden State Warriors

$13,193,720

3

Brooklyn Nets

$12,937,946

4

Milwaukee Bucks

$12,487,995

5

Boston Celtics

$12,443,006

6

Los Angeles Lakers

$11,958,012

7

Dallas Mavericks

$11,529,696

8

Phoenix Suns

$11,396,170

9

Denver Nuggets

$11,223,427

10

Philadelphia 76ers

$10,888,645

11

Atlanta Hawks

$10,421,732

12

Washington Wizards

$10,416,653

13

New Orleans Pelicans

$10,373,556

14

Oklahoma City Thunder

$10,361,404

15

Minnesota Timberwolves

$10,336,590

16

Portland Trail Blazers

$10,313,357

17

Miami Heat

$10,306,400

18

Chicago Bulls

$10,271,125

19

Toronto Raptors

$10,262,707

20

Cleveland Cavaliers

$10,156,389

21

Utah Jazz

$10,049,951

22

New York Knicks

$9,924,388

23

Sacramento Kings

$9,444,305

24

Houston Rockets

$9,347,855

25

Orlando Magic

$8,810,831

26

Charlotte Hornets

$8,666,808

27

Memphis Grizzlies

$8,662,421

28

Detroit Pistons

$8,573,653

29

Indiana Pacers

$7,382,558

30

San Antonio Spurs

$6,603,652

If you’re interested in the NBA and want to get an edge on your betting strategies check out our guide on how to bet on the NBA. We have also tested every sportsbook to find the very best basketball betting sites.

For more advanced sports betting strategies read our guide on how to pick an NBA upset. We also have the latest NBA sportsbook promos to ensure you get best bonus available on your bets.

Highest Paying MLB Teams

Not to be outdone, America’s Favorite Pastime also pays out huge salaries, but they come in behind the NFL and NBA with the highest-paying MLB team, the New York Mets, having a lower average salary than 29 of the 30 NBA teams in 2023.

This table ranks all thirty MLB teams based on average annual salary:

Rank

Team

Average Annual Salary

1

New York Mets

$6,668,958

2

New York Yankees

$5,766,726

3

Philadelphia Phillies

$4,886,530

4

Texas Rangers

$4,191,250

5

San Diego Padres

$4,134,989

6

Los Angeles Angels

$4,065,952

7

Atlanta Braves

$3,957,875

8

Houston Astros

$3,893,162

9

Toronto Blue Jays

$3,803,194

10

Chicago White Sox

$3,783,761

11

Los Angeles Dodgers

$3,687,500

12

San Francisco Giants

$3,535,000

13

Colorado Rockies

$3,508,120

14

Boston Red Sox

$3,390,078

15

Chicago Cubs

$2,937,073

16

St. Louis Cardinals

$2,861,667

17

Detroit Tigers

$2,558,125

18

Minnesota Twins

$2,532,530

19

Seattle Mariners

$2,412,143

20

Arizona Diamondbacks

$1,905,298

21

Washington Nationals

$1,667,827

22

Miami Marlins

$1,297,561

23

Kansas City Royals

$1,163,625

24

Milwaukee Brewers

$1,138,374

25

Pittsburgh Pirates

$1,091,250

26

Cleveland Guardians

$1,032,500

27

Cincinnati Reds

$910,625

28

Tampa Bay Rays

$776,364

29

Baltimore Orioles

$624,375

30

Oakland Athletics

$621,951

If you’re interested in the MLB and want to get an edge on your betting strategies, take a look at our top baseball betting sites and check out our video guide on how to bet on MLB.

Highest Paying NFL Teams

The NFL pays out the highest amount of total salaries in the world with a whopping collective of $6.7 million in 2022! This is shared among all 1,486 players in the NFL making the overall average salary for a player in the NFL just over $4.5 million.

With each team in the NFL playing seventeen games a season that is an average of $260,000 per game played. That kind of income can buy a lot of cheeseburgers.

However, the average is heavily skewed by the biggest contracts in the league. The median salary for an NFL player is $860,000, which, while still an obscene amount of money, paints a more accurate picture of the typical compensation for an NFL player.

Below is a chart listing the annual salaries of all the teams in the NFL in 2023:

Rank

Team

Average Annual Salary

1

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

$7,116,617

2

Miami Dolphins

$6,189,379

3

San Francisco 49ers

$6,066,029

4

Jacksonville Jaguars

$6,000,106

5

Kansas City Chiefs

$5,958,323

6

Buffalo Bills

$5,934,710

7

Los Angeles Chargers

$5,806,316

8

New Orleans Saints

$5,586,339

9

Minnesota Vikings

$5,010,072

10

Dallas Cowboys

$4,992,801

11

Seattle Seahawks

$4,991,376

12

New York Jets

$4,830,275

13

Cleveland Browns

$4,612,904

14

Carolina Panthers

$4,603,567

15

Tennessee Titans

$4,598,790

16

Los Angeles Rams

$4,516,079

17

Detroit Lions

$4,446,446

18

Pittsburgh Steelers

$4,363,283

19

Cincinnati Bengals

$4,353,933

20

Arizona Cardinals

$4,213,586

21

Baltimore Ravens

$4,171,070

22

Las Vegas Raiders

$4,156,681

23

Green Bay Packers

$4,064,373

24

New York Giants

$3,985,066

25

Philadelphia Eagles

$3,932,774

26

Houston Texans

$3,928,207

27

Indianapolis Colts

$3,905,025

28

Denver Broncos

$3,858,597

29

Washington Commanders

$3,735,003

30

New England Patriots

$3,249,909

31

Atlanta Falcons

$2,933,939

32

Chicago Bears

$2,294,532


If you’re an NFL fan and want to get an edge on your betting strategies check out our video guide on how to bet on the NFL. Be sure to also take a look at our list of the best football betting bonuses to take advantage of the free bets being offered by sportsbooks around the country. Finally, we have reviewed and ranked the top NFL betting sites based on all the things that football bettors value the most.

Highest Paying MLS Teams

Given Major League Soccer’s popularity deficit in the US is it not surprising that financially they are well behind other more established leagues such as the NFL and NBA when it comes to salaries, but when it comes to popularity Soccer is a rising star.

According to a study reported on by Forbes MLS has experienced a 27% rise in popularity since 2012 with more and more high schools across the nation opting to create soccer programs every year. This rise in popularity coupled with younger generations having an exciting new alternative to football will continue the growing trend of soccer’s overall popularity in the US.

The competitive nature of Americans will inevitably lead to MLS teams one day going overseas with greater frequency to test their mettle against the well established “old guard” teams of the European leagues.

Here is a chart listing the overall average annual salaries in MLS:

Rank

Team

Average Annual Salary

1

Toronto FC

$1,108,066

2

LA Galaxy

$760,901

3

Los Angeles FC

$681,700

4

Atlanta United FC

$602,430

5

Chicago Fire

$592,929

6

Inter Miami FC

$589,365

7

Seattle Sounders FC

$537,378

8

Columbus Crew

$537,017

9

D.C. United

$535,987

10

Houston Dynamo

$529,995

11

New England Revolution

$517,402

12

Austin FC

$502,701

13

Sporting Kansas City

$494,499

14

FC Dallas

$459,276

15

FC Cincinnati

$447,915

16

Vancouver Whitecaps FC

$414,694

17

New York City FC

$397,528

18

CF Montreal

$391,746

19

New York Red Bulls

$390,063

20

Real Salt Lake

$382,356

21

Orlando City

$372,081

22

San Jose Earthquakes

$367,988

23

Charlotte FC

$363,990

24

Nashville SC

$363,245

25

Philadelphia Union

$355,244

26

Colorado Rapids

$349,445

27

Portland Timbers

$347,952

28

Minnesota United FC

$342,823


Gain an upper-hand on the sportsbooks by checking out our video guide on how to bet on the MLS.

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Highest Paying NHL Teams

The NHL’s players aren’t the only thing that is aggressive about the NHL, their total average salaries come in at fifth place overall with a total paid out of more than $2.5 billion in 2023.

The chart below lists the annual salaries of all NHL teams in order of the highest annually paid.

Rank

Team

Average Annual Salary

1

Los Angeles Kings

$4,011,373

2

Vegas Golden Knights

$3,928,571

3

Colorado Avalanche

$3,927,381

4

Ottawa Senators

$3,787,983

5

Boston Bruins

$3,750,000

6

Carolina Hurricanes

$3,744,886

7

Philadelphia Flyers

$3,736,591

8

Seattle Kraken

$3,711,471

9

Montreal Canadiens

$3,698,523

10

Nashville Predators

$3,659,260

11

New Jersey Devils

$3,586,957

12

Pittsburgh Penguins

$3,586,957

13

Tampa Bay Lightning

$3,586,957

14

San Jose Sharks

$3,586,957

15

Washington Capitals

$3,582,609

16

Minnesota Wild

$3,577,883

17

Toronto Maple Leafs

$3,577,717

18

Dallas Stars

$3,563,183

19

St Louis Blues

$3,539,130

20

Vancouver Canucks

$3,532,609

21

New York Rangers

$3,514,916

22

New York Islanders

$3,506,789

23

Winnipeg Jets

$3,501,069

24

Detroit Red Wings

$3,472,892

25

Columbus Blue Jackets

$3,437,500

26

Edmonton Oilers

$3,400,167

27

Chicago Blackhawks

$3,357,550

28

Calgary Flames

$3,299,111

29

Florida Panthers

$3,274,500

30

Anaheim Ducks

$3,135,511

31

Arizona Coyotes

$3,027,727

32

Buffalo Sabres

$2,816,617


For the best NHL betting strategies check out our video guide on how to bet on the NHL. And while you're here, browse our list of the latest NHL sportsbook promo codes.

Highest Paying WNBA Teams

The WNBA has historically had a payment gap from their colleagues in the NBA and that issue does not seem to be going away anytime soon. Players in the NBA made on average three hundred and thirty-eight times as much money as their colleagues in the WNBA.

There are only twelve teams in the WNBA compared to the thirty in the NBA. The highest-paying team in the WNBA, the Chicago Sky, have an annual average salary of $124,361 compared to the top-paying NBA team, the LA Clippers, paying an impressive $13,468,019 salary on average. 

Inevitably this pay gap brings to light issues of a gender pay gap and those concerns are valid but there is also the fact that realistically the WNBA is not as popular as the NBA. Players in the MLS also have a revenue problem that is tied to their popularity issues. Hopefully, in time both the WNBA and MLS will increase their popularity in the coming years and decades. 

Below is a chart showing every team in the WNBA and the average annual salary they received in 2022:

Rank

Team

Average Annual Salary

1

Chicago Sky

$124,361

2

Seattle Storm

$120,579

3

Las Vegas Aces

$114,927

4

Minnesota Lynx

$111,672

5

Washington Mystics

$110,213

6

Connecticut Sun

$107,814

7

New York Liberty

$106,146

8

Atlanta Dream

$98,117

9

Los Angeles Sparks

$95,681

10

Phoenix Mercury

$92,661

11

Dallas Wings

$89,112

12

Indiana Fever

$85,428


References

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