Top 10 Biggest Sports Contracts of All Time
In recent years, athletes from all disciplines have been setting new records and redefining the meaning of the word “impossible” in sports. This has led some of them to sign historical contracts, putting them among the highest earners in the industry. Let’s now take a look at the ten biggest sports contracts of all time!
What are the biggest sports contracts of all time?
- Lionel Messi - 4 years, $673 million
- Patrick Mahomes - 10 years, $503 million
- Mike Trout - 12 years, $426.5 million
- Max Verstappen - 5 years, $275 million
- Mookie Betts - 12 years, $365 million
- Francisco Lindor - 10 years, $341 million
- Fernando Tatis Jr. - 14 years, $340 million
- Bryce Harper - 13 years, $330 million
- Giancarlo Stanton - 13 years, $325 million
- Corey Seager - 10 years, $325 million
1. Lionel Messi - 4 years, $673 million
Initially announced at considerably lower numbers, the full details of Lionel Messi’s four-year, $673 million contract at FC Barcelona only came out after the Argentine left the club. Messi tied himself to this contract in 2017 after another great campaign with the club that had raised him. However, what was expected to be just a normal contract extension turned out to be Messi’s last contract at the club, as he left in the summer of 2021.
2. Patrick Mahomes - 10 years, $503 million
After a 2019 campaign topped with a win in Super Bowl LIV, the Kansas City Chiefs decided to hand star quarterback Patrick Mahomes the keys of the franchise by tying him to a 10-year, $503 million contract. When it was signed in 2020, the deal became the largest in sports history, as the details of Messi’s contract had not come out yet. Despite the numbers, the deal is considered to be extremely team-friendly, as Mahomes’ salary will only take up a small portion of the salary cap in the seasons to come.
3. Mike Trout - 12 years, $426.5 million
Similarly to Mahomes’ deal, the 12-year, $426.5 million contract that tied Mike Trout to the Los Angeles Angels in 2019 was the biggest in sports history at the time. This deal came after years of stellar play by Mike Trout. The centerfielder reached his contract extension as a two-time American League MVP, having won the Silver Slugger Award seven times and the Hank Aaron Award two times. This record-setting deal will make Trout a cornerstone of the franchise for the next decade.
4. Max Verstappen - 5 years, $275 million
Max Verstappen’s five-year, $275 million contract extension with Red Bull Racing is one of the newest entries in this list, as it was signed at the beginning of March 2022. The Dutch driver signed his contract extension after his first-ever Formula 1 title that ended four years of domination by Lewis Hamilton. As one of the youngest and most promising drivers in the Formula 1 circuit, Verstappen has the potential to be one of the highest earners in the sport’s history.
5. Mookie Betts - 12 years, $365 million
After trading for him in February 2020, the Los Angeles Dodgers tied Mookie Betts to a 12-year, $365 million extension in July 2020. Betts immediately delivered after signing his contract, bringing a World Series title to Los Angeles that ended a championship drought that lasted since 1988. The contract also included a $65 million signing bonus, and put the six-time All-Star Betts among the top 15 highest earners per year in the MLB.
6. Francisco Lindor - 10 years, $341 million
After seven seasons playing for the Cleveland Guardians, Francisco Lindor moved to the Big Apple in 2021, tying himself to a 10-year, $341 million contract with the New York Mets. Lindor’s contract includes a $21 million signing bonus and makes him the second-highest for average annual value in MLB history with a $30.4 million yearly salary. Since signing his deal, the Puerto Rican superstar delivered 46 home runs in his first two seasons.
7. Fernando Tatis Jr. - 14 years, $340 million
Fernando Tatis Jr.’s 14-year, $340 million is the latest mega-contract signed in the MLB. After a breakout season in 2020, Tatis Jr. attracted great interest around the league, leading the San Diego Padres to sign him to one of the largest deals in sports history. The deal comes with a $10 million signing bonus and countless benefits, including a premium luxury suite and four of the best season tickets at the Padres’ stadium.
8. Bryce Harper - 13 years, $330 million
Hoping to bring a World Series title to Philadelphia, the Phillies gave Bryce Harper a 13-year $330 million contract that made the right fielder the highest-paid player in MLB history at the time. Harper had previously made a lot of noise when, in the free agency of 2019, he decided to leave the Washington Nationals to join their NL East Division rivals, the Phillies. Ever since he signed his new contract, Harper has been dominating the scene and brought home a second National League MVP in 2021.
9. Giancarlo Stanton - 13 years, $325 million
Signed in 2015, Giancarlo Stanton’s 13-year, $325 million contract is the oldest among the MLB deals on this list. After another home run-filled campaign, the Miami Marlins handed Stanton one of the biggest contracts in sports history to turn him into a franchise player. However, Stanton was traded to the New York Yankees in the third year of his contract. Since his arrival in New York, Stanton has played in the All-Star Game, won the All-Star Game MVP, and has been known to be an extremely clutch power hitter.
10. Corey Seager - 10 years, $325 million
Corey Seager’s 10-year $325 closes out the top ten of the biggest sports contracts of all time. After a 2020 campaign that led him to an NLCS MVP and a World Series MVP to top off the seventh title in Dodgers history, Corey Seager went into the 2021 free agency ready to test the market. As LA did not offer him a large multi-year extension, the Charlotte-born athlete decided to accept the Texas Rangers’ offer, which handed him the tenth-largest contract in professional sports history.
- Devin Booker
- Bradley Beal
- Stephen Curry
- Erling Haaland
- Nikola Jokic
- Zach Lavine
- Kylian Mbappé
- Kimi Räikkönen
- Alex Rodriguez
- Karl-Anthony Towns
- Deshaun Watson
Who has the biggest women’s sports contract ever?
Dewanna Bonner, Elena Delle Donne, and Skylar Diggins-Smith are all tied for the biggest contract in women’s sports history with their four-year, $899,480 deals. While all the top earners in men’s sports are tied to contracts with either teams or brands, the highest earners in women’s sports are tennis players, whose pay is based on tournament prizes. The largest contracts in women’s sports history, thus, come from the WNBA.
Who has the biggest men’s sports contract ever?
Although the details were only revealed after his departure from the club, Lionel Messi’s four-year, $673 million deal with FC Barcelona is the biggest men’s sports contract ever. The contract included over $200 million of signing and loyalty bonuses plus a yearly fixed base of almost $140 million dollars. The deal also included many benefits, such as private air travel and one of the best hospitality suites at the Camp Nou, FC Barcelona’s stadium.