Top 5 Biggest Contracts Ever (By Sport)

Between endorsements and increasingly larger contracts, athletes are earning more money than they ever have before. To put today’s massive salaries in perspective, Babe Ruth, widely considered to be the greatest baseball player in history, earned less than $1 million throughout his career. Nowadays, a guy like Alex Rodriguez can probably find that kind of money between his couch cushions. These men earn more than anyone else to ever play their sport:

Alex Rodriguez: 10 Years, $275 Million

Alex Rodriguez

Over the last two decades, Alex Rodriguez has probably made enough money to start his own team. A-Rod signed the first of his $200 million contracts in 2000 as a member of the Texas Rangers. Apparently dissatisfied with the biggest deal in sports history, A-Rod opted out in 2004 and signed a new contract worth an estimated $275 million. With a resume that boasts nearly 650 home runs and three MVP awards, it’s understandable that Alex can write his own ticket. Still, the Yankees might as well have made him an owner.

Cristiano Ronaldo: $132 Million Transfer Fee

Cristiano Ronaldo

Considering the growing worldwide devotion to the game of soccer, earning the sport’s largest contract ever is no small feat. In 2008, Real Madrid was so smitten with the crafty midfielder that it paid Manchester United a record $132 million to acquire his services. In addition to that absurd figure, it is estimated that the Portuguese star earns over $50 million a year from his regular contract and endorsements. Given his record-breaking goal totals and rock-star lifestyle, it’s hard to argue with Ronaldo’s earnings. Real Madrid agrees — other teams would have to pay over a billion dollars to acquire the star.

Kobe Bryant: 7 Years, $136 Million

Kobe Bryant

As a crucial member of the Los Angeles Lakers’ 1999-2002 championship three-peat, there was no chance that the squad would allow Kobe Bryant to leave. The Lakers opted to trade aging franchise center Shaquille O’Neal to Miami and build around their talented shooting guard. The resulting 2004 deal was especially remarkable considering the NBA’s salary cap structure and league-wide hesitation to commit to long-term contracts. Kobe rewarded the Lakers for their faith, earning an MVP nod as well as back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010.

Calvin Johnson: 8 Years, $132 Million

Calvin Johnson

Surprise, surprise — the guy with the nickname “Megatron” makes a lot of mega amount of money. Calvin Johnson has been instrumental in transforming the formerly hapless Detroit Lions from league doormat to title contender. With quarterback Matthew Stafford finally healthy, Megatron amassed an obscene 1,681 yards and 16 touchdowns through the air in 2011. Conveniently, Johnson was just about to enter free agency. His $132 million contract comes with an unheard-of $60 million guaranteed.

Alexander Ovechkin: 13 Years, $124 Million

Alexander Ovechkin

Paul Bereswill, Getty Images

There’s commitment, and then there’s a 13-year contract. In 2008, the Washington Capitals felt so strongly about locking up their prolific left-winger that they gave him the league’s first-ever $100 million deal. At 26, Ovechkin already holds nine NHL records, including the single-season record for goals scored by a left-winger. Although Ovie has fallen slightly off the scorching pace of his early career, he remains one of the best young players the NHL has ever seen. His massive contract would later play a major role in the NHL’s decision to limit the length of long-term signings.

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