Athlete Salaries Vs. Regular Job Salaries

(Last Updated On: September 29, 2017)

It’s been nearly 25 years since a famous New York hip hop crew claimed that cash does in fact rule everything around us, CREAM get the money, dollar dollar bill, y’all. Dating back centuries/lifetimes/countless civilizations, currency has defined power. But while the other 98 percent scratch and claw for that extra buck, they depressingly watch professional athletes from around the globe pull in six and seven-figure contracts like economies can actually afford it. The truth is, athlete salaries are dependent on what owners will pay, whether fans will pay to come see them, and how valuable they are. And given the fan-worshipping state of professional sports, already egregious athlete salaries only continue to rise. Even when they’re doubling as the high-flying tomato..

Given this continuously exponential uplift in athlete salaries — every season it seems a new record contract extension comes along — we’ve hit the financial statements to figure out how long it would take other professions to make what athletes make. From a wealthy anesthesiologist to a blue-collar McDonald’s cashier, we’ve compared various careers to put today’s contracts into realer perspective. In general, athlete salaries are accelerating faster than any other profession. Per Forbes, “Earnings for the top 40 [sports earners] have increased 7.1% annually before inflation, compared to 3.7% for the average U.S. worker.”

The imbalance is real and potentially never-ending, though it’s worth noting that NFL players get the raw end of the gold stick when matched up against the NBA and MLB as the latter contracts are actually guaranteed despite the dip in actual physical contact and overall risk of chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Warriors Guard Steph Curry Earns 43 Times An Anesthesiologist

The Golden State Warriors star makes a cool $40,231,758 per year average, meaning he’d make roughly $915,051.36 per hour of game time (43.97 hours of actual on-court time). Anesthesiologists, responsible for responsibly drugging people pre-surgery, make roughly 258,100 per year on average – or $129.05 an hour (assuming 2,000 hours per year).

This means it would take an anesthesiologist about 43+ years to make what Stephen Curry makes in one year, or even more miraculously it’d take the anesthesiologist roughly 3.5 years of work to make what Curry makes in an hour. Add another $35 million in endorsements, and we’re easily doubling Curry’s yearly earnings.

Picture of Stephen Curry hitting bullseye.

Portuguese Footballer Cristiano Ronaldo Earns 140 Times The POTUS

Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo isn’t just a basic soccer player, considering he earns roughly $35 million in commercial endorsements. For roughly 72.82 hours of actual game time, Ronaldo earns a whopping $769,054.70 per hour (with endorsements we’re talking over $1.2 million) and $56 million a year (roughly $90+ million with endorsements). Put that side by side with the President of the United States’s $400,000 salary and we’ve got the POTUS working nearly two full years (or half his tenure) just to make what Ronaldo makes in an hour of play.

Over a full season, it’d take a President working 140 years to be able to match Ronaldo’s non-endorsement salary.



Andrew Luck Earns 167 Times A Union Head

The Colts may not be helping Stanford product Andrew Luck sling a NFL championship trophy, but they’re certainly taking care of their prized quarterback with $47 million in guaranteed money. Add in the $3 million the quiet and fantastic signal caller makes in endorsements and we’ve got a steamy $50 million. The Average Head of a Union makes roughly $300K, meaning he’d have to work nearly 167 years to reach Luck heights.

Keep in mind, Luck plays roughly 16 hours of actual game football a year, meaning he makes almost $3 million an hour of game time. Lucky guy.

Dodgers Southpaw Clayton Kershaw Earns 750 Times An Elementary School Teacher

Using average games started over the past three seasons, Clayton Kershaw makes roughly¬†$439,153.43 per hour of in-game mound time on a base salary of¬†$35,571,428. By comparison, Elementary school teachers make an average of $46,967, meaning they’d have to teach snarling young children for nine years before they’d make what Kershaw makes in an hour of MLB play. They’d have to work 750+ years to match his yearly salary.

It’s no surprise there are a lack of educators clamoring for a teaching job. Time to raise the rate.


Maybe we’re looking at this all wrong. The debate for paying college kids may want to tear a page out of this as well, but I believe it’s time to start funding investment accounts for professional athletes with the goal of lessening financial hardship, educating the young guys on investing and money management, and hopefully preventing the irresponsible loss of career wealth via poor investments, misplaced trust, and pure having-money ecstasy.

Just a thought. More to come.

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