Yankees superstar Aaron Judge was the most recent American athlete to sign a massive contract. However, as large as his contract is, he is still not the highest paid in Major League Baseball. There are a couple of players ahead of him.
Let’s compare the largest contracts of the four major sports leagues to see which athletes are making the most.
MLB: Mike Trout
Angels center fielder Mike Trout signed the richest contract in American sports at the time back in 2019. He is being paid a whopping $426.5 million over 12 years which is about 35.5 million per year. The Angels drafted the 10-time all-star right out of high school at the age of 18.
Trout quickly ascended the list of top baseball prospects before making his Major League debut in 2011. He won the AL Rookie of the Year in 2012 and won AL MVP in 2014 and 2016. Trout signed his new contract right before the 2019 season and followed it up with another MVP award. He had a few injuries that slowed him down the last couple of seasons, but he made the AL All-Star team back-to-back years.
Mike Trout is 31 years old and has plenty of quality seasons ahead. He is batting .303, has 350 home runs, 896 runs batted in, and 1,543 career hits. If only the Angels could surround him with talent, Trout would be an even bigger name in the American sports landscape.
NFL: Patrick Mahomes
Nearly a year after Mike Trout’s contract extension, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes signed an even bigger contract. He will make up to $503 million over 10 years, which is 50 million per year. Unlike Mike Trout’s, this contract is not guaranteed. The deal has a $140 million injury guarantee, so Mahomes must play to receive the money.
Mahomes has been impressive since he became the Chiefs’ full-time starter in 2018. The first-round draft pick out of Texas Tech has made four straight Pro Bowls, won an MVP in 2018, and won a Super Bowl MVP. He leads a dynamic offense for a team that is always a contender in recent years.
So far in 2022, Mahomes is 9-3 as a starter and has 3,808 passing yards, 30 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. He is once again in the MVP conversation. Mahomes is making the most of his half-a-billion-dollar contract, and worth every penny.
NBA: Nikola Jokic
Nikola Jokic has the most recent contract on this list. The Nuggets’ center recently signed for the max extension, which will pay him $272 million over five years (54.4 million/year). The Yugoslavian-born superstar played in the Serbian League before joining the NBA in 2015.
Jokic made a name for himself in the 2018/19 season as his Nuggets returned to the playoffs. It was his first year averaging 20 points per game which earned him his first All-Star appearance, and he was named to the All-NBA team. Jokic followed this up with three more All-Star appearances and two MVP awards in 2021 and 2022.
Nikola Jokic has become the face of his franchise and the NBA. Denver made the conference finals in the 2019/20 season and has been a threat ever since. Jokic’s contract makes him the highest-paid athlete in NBA history.
NHL: Shea Weber
NHL contracts are considerably behind the other three major sports leagues, but serious money can still be made. For example, current Las Vegas Golden Knight, Shea Weber, signed a 14-year $110 million deal in 2012 with the Nashville Predators. This averages nearly $8 million yearly, less than some of the more recent contracts. However, the length of the contract is what makes this the richest deal in the sport for now.
Weber had not played since the 2020 season when he was with the Montreal Canadians. He has four all-star appearances over the course of his 16-year career. Weber is also a two-time Olympic gold medalist for Team Canada. Though Weber may not play in the NHL again due to injuries, he still has four years remaining on his contract.
Which Athlete Is Next?
As new superstars emerge, expect the list of highest-paid athletes to change. While unlikely to top Mahomes, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is the next name to watch. He is on his fifth-year option and has turned down multiple contract extension offers as he looks for even more money. However, once the 2022 season is complete, discussions will heat up between Jackson and the Ravens.