Who are the top paid athletes at this year's Women's World Cup?

July 24, 2023
Forbes recently released its list of the top paid athletes in this year’s WWC, ranging from $1.1M to $7.1M throughout the top 15.
Sports BusinessSoccer

The GIST: Forbes recently released its list of the top paid athletes in this year’s WWC, ranging from $1.1M to $7.1M throughout the top 15. Nine of the top 10 play for the USWNT, signaling the vast opportunity for global investment in women’s soccer players internationally and the importance of fighting for equal pay.

The earnings: One noticeable trend is the majority of earnings come from off-the-field deals (i.e. not from pro soccer contracts). No. 1 Alex Morgan and and No. 2 Megan Rapinoe both make $6.3M from these sponsorships, while the top non-American, No. 3 Alexia Putellas from Spain, earns $3.2M off the field.

  • Rounding out the top five is No. 4 Trinity Rodman with $2.3M total earnings ($800K on field, $1.5K off), and the three players tied for fifth — Crystal Dunn, Julie Ertz, and Sophia Smith — all make about twice as much off the pitch.
  • The list of highest-paid male soccer players from 2023 sings a different tune. Although superstar Cristiano Ronaldo’s off-the-field total almost doubled his on-the-field earnings ($90M vs. $46M), new–MLSer Lionel Messi earned the same for both ($65M), and No. 3 Kylian Mbappé saw significantly more money on the pitch than off it ($100M vs. $20M).

The brands: With 27 sponsorship deals, Alex Morgan was the most endorsed female athlete of 2022 (more than any NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL or MLS player), with support from brands like Nike, Coca-Cola, Google, Chipotle, and AT&T. Megan Rapinoe scored brand deals from companies like Samsung, BodyArmor, Hulu, Visa, Nike, and Victoria’s Secret.

The case for women athletes: Women’s sports fans put their money where their mouth isa 2021 study showed they’re 25% more likely to buy sponsored products than men’s sports fans.

  • In 2019, when Visa became an official USWNT partner, the company saw a 2,700% increase in brand engagement and affinity. Furthermore, USWNT jersey sponsor Nike notched a 500% increase in women’s jersey sales that same year.
  • Women athletes tend to have better social engagement as well. In the NIL era, female student-athletes saw four times the total audience engagement and seven times more engagement per deal than their male counterparts. Top marks.

Zooming out: While the difference between men’s and women’s off-the-field earnings is substantial, brands should see it as less of a gap and more of an opportunity. The surface for brand activations and investments in women’s sports has barely been scratched in the U.S., and the sky's the limit globally. Next step: make the sky the point of view.