New York’s highest-paid pro athletes

What can you say about New York that hasn’t already been said or written a million times before? The city that never sleeps excels in so many ways – in its museums and galleries, in its world-famous stores and in the sheer energy and exuberance that it radiates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

So it’s no big surprise that it’s also home to some of the most famous sports teams on earth with some fearsome reputations behind them. The names alone conjure up great memories of some of the city’s greatest sporting moments – the Giants, the Jets, the Mets and the Yankees, all carry with them histories of legendary performances and achievements.

And, while the biggest rewards in their respective sports may have eluded them in recent years, their iconic status lives on.

What is most remarkable is that there are so many teams within the city’s five boroughs. But this is testament to New Yorkers’ passionate love of sports, and also an explanation for exactly why there are so very many sportsbooks in NY. After all, along with supporting their teams, the city’s inhabitants are also very keen on putting a few dollars on their chances of success.

The teams themselves benefit from being based in one of the richest cities in the world. So facilities are lavish in terms of both stadia and training facilities, and living there is a big draw for players and their families.

It’s also home to more millionaires than any other city and these five sporting heroes are all on the list.

Jalen Brunson, New York Knicks. Annual salary $27.7 million.

The 26 year old point guard moved to the Knicks from the Dallas Mavericks in 2022 on a four-year $104 million contract. As well as the money, returning to his home city was undoubtedly one of the reasons for the move. He’s been very successful since joining the Knicks, equalling Stephon Marbury’s team record for the most 40-point games in a season. He also nearly beat it on March 1st 2023 with 39 points scored in a 142-118 victory over local rivals the Brooklyn Nets. The very next day he was awarded his first ever NBA Player of the Month award.

Leonard Williams, New York Giants.  Annual salary $32.2 million.

The New York Giants’ defensive tackle has come a long way from his Bakersfield, California home to play pro-football in New York. His first post-draft team was the Jets who he joined in 2015, moving over to the Giants for the 2019 season. His initial deal was renewed in 2021 when he signed a three-year $63 million contract that included $45 million guaranteed and a signing bonus of 50% of that amount. Today his share represents 14% of the Giants’ total salary bill.

Ben Simmons, Brooklyn Nets. Annual salary $35.4 million

Arguably, no-one has travelled further than Simmons to play for a New York team as Simmons who comes from Melbourne, Australia. His NBA career started with the Philadelphia 76ers where he was named Rookie of the Year for the 2017-18 season. In 2022 he switched to the Nets on a $177 million five-year contract.

Unfortunately, since joining the Nets Simmons has been plagued by back problems including a herniated disc and nerve impingement. On March 26 it was announced that he would not be able to play for the rest of the season.

Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees. Annual Salary $36 million.

When Cole made the move from the Houston Astros in 2019 he also made history by putting his name to the biggest ever contract awarded to a pitcher in MLB. Worth a staggering $324 million over nine years, it also includes a full no-trade clause and a player option that comes in post-2024. 

Expensive as he has been, it seems like the Yankees are getting plenty of bang for their buck. In September last year he hit his 248th strikeout in a game against the Toronto Blue Jays equalling a team record set 44 years previously by the legendary Ron Guidry.

Aaron Judge, New York Yankees. Annual salary $40 million.

However, Cole isn’t the highest-paid player currently on the Yankees’ roster. That honour goes to Aaron Judge whose own nine year contract with the team is worth a total of $360 million making him the highest-paid position player in MLB history. What makes this all the more remarkable is that Judge was over 30 when he signed, making him also the oldest player ever to receive a contract for over $300 million – underlining the team’s faith in his ability to continue performing late into his 30s.

So there you have them. The five top-earning athletes in the Big Apple. Now let’s hope that high earnings soon translate into title victories for their respective teams.