Sport is a serious industry these days, and star players can make big bucks. In no particular order, here are 10 of the wealthiest sports stars and athletes from Canada. Our list includes both current stars and those who have retired with very healthy bank balances.
To start our list of the richest Canadian athletes, we have young NBA star Jamal Murray who gamblers have likely seen on the Canadian Bet365 sports market. In 2019 this Ontario-born 22 year old (at the time) signed a deal that broke records and made him the highest paid Canadian player in the history of the NBA. It was with the Denver Nuggets that young Murray made his fortune, signing a contract extension for a five year deal worth a very tasty $170m. This bumped his salary over a season up from around $4.4m (which isn't bad to start with) to an astronomical $29.5m.
Did the Nuggets get their money's worth with this courtside megadeal? Well, Murray was instrumental in securing a super-tight 113-111 win over the Phoenix Suns in late 2019, knocking down the attempt that would've seen the Suns smiling at the last second (almost literally). It's true he missed almost a dozen games in a row due to injury but bounced back better than ever. And in 2021 he became the first NBA player to ever score 50 points without a free throw attempt. Alas, in April 2021 he underwent knee surgery, and remains out indefinitely.
Another of the most wealthy sports stars and athletes in Canadian history is the NBA's Andrew Wiggins. In October 2017 this talented native of Ontario had a multi-year contract deal that was almost the equal of Murray's in size. Signing a five year contract extension with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Wiggins made $148m. Just 11 days after signing his new nine figure deal, he scored a last second three pointer to claim an epic victory over Oklahoma City Thunder (115-113).
The following year Wiggins became one of the youngest players in history to smash through the 6,000 career points threshold. Early in the 2018 season he struggled with injury and loss of form before proving that while form is temporary, class is permanent and racking up 40 points in a 119-117 win over Oklahoma City Thunder.
From 2020, Wiggins moved from the Timberwolves to the Golden State Warriors. On the international stage, he helped his Canadian team to secure the bronze medal at the Summer Olympics, and was the team's top scorer.
Another man who became one of the most wealthy sports star athletes thanks to his incredible talent on the ice is the NHL's Vincent Lecavalier - a popular name at Quebec online casinos and sportsbooks. Believed to be worth in the region of $45m, Lecavalier spent 17 seasons in the National Hockey League, hanging up his skates in 2016. The majority of his career was spent at Tampa Bay Lightning, a team he captained in two stints (2000-01, and 2008-13). In July 2013 he moved to the Philadelphia Flyers in a five year deal worth $22.5m. Lecavalier retired in 2016, after playing a season for the Los Angeles Kings.
His success in the NHL helped him amass a comfortable bank balance, but Lecavalier's status as one of the richest players also enabled him to show his philanthropic side, best exemplified by his $3m donation to the Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital facility, named the Vincent Lecavalier Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders Center.
Lance Stroll has been in Formula 1 for only a few years, starting in 2017, but despite this brief time he's already earned his place on this list of the most wealthy sports star athletes from Canada.
He began his Formula 1 career with Williams, a famous name that has recently had a tough time of it. In his rookie year he managed to navigate through a race so hectic it was almost comically chaotic (the Azerbaijan Grand Prix) and achieved his first podium, finishing 3rd and becoming the second youngest driver ever to accomplish a top 3 finish. When his father Lawrence rescued Force India from a financial abyss, and it became Racing Point, Lance Stroll moved teams. In 2020 at the Italian Grand Prix, Stroll managed to both qualify and finish 3rd in a surprise result that will have delighted Canadian casino and sports betting fans who backed him. A career highlight was excelling in the wet conditions at a slippery and resurfaced Turkish Grand Prix, which saw him take his first pole position. He led for more than half the race but a damaged front wing scuppered his hopes by causing degradation to his tires.
With the likes of Raikkonen and Hamilton worth a quarter of a billion or so each, and Schumacher having an estimated net worth of circa $600m, there's plenty of scope for Stroll (worth perhaps $50m) to climb even higher.
Sidney Crosby, also known as Sid the Kid, is thought by many to be among the best players to ever grace the NHL. He's the Halifax-born captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins, for whom he has played since 2005. Worth an estimated $55m or so thanks to both a lucrative salary and various endorsements, Crosby's likely to see his coffers swell even more both up to and beyond retirement. One particular financial feather in his cap are seriously generous endorsements from the likes of both Reebok and Adidas, both paying millions over multiple years.
On the ice, Crosby is noted for his leadership and work ethic, as well as great general awareness of the situation at any given moment. No less a figure than the renowned Wayne Gretzky has described him as the best player in the NHL today. Crosby is the youngest player to ever break through 100 points in a season, doing so in his rookie season before his 19th birthday. He followed this up the next season by becoming the only teenager to win the Art Ross Trophy, and was the youngest captain in history to win the Stanley Cup.
We go back to the NBA for our fifth pick on the richest Canadian athletes list, but this time our entry, Steve Nash, is a former rather than current player (although he remains active in the sport as a professional coach). Nash is estimated to be worth around $95m, earned mostly during his 18 seasons in the sport, where he's regarded as one of the best point guards the NBA has ever seen. While playing for the Phoenix Suns he was twice named the Most Valuable Player, and in the course of his career racked up eight All-Star and seven All-NBA picks.
Outside of his playing days, Nash is co-owner of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC. In 2001 he founded the Nash Foundation, a charitable endeavor that aspires to encourage health among children by funding projects to help those suffering adversity such as poverty, sickness, or abuse. He's also been quite selective in accepting endorsements, emphasising social responsibility in his decisions.
Although many Britons reading this might be surprised as he was always a favorite with real money gamblers, Lennox Lewis holds dual citizenship and so makes our list of richest Canadian athletes. Many consider him to be the best boxer from either nation, and he is still the last heavyweight boxer to be the undisputed champion. His success in the ring has earned Lewis around $140m altogether, including a staggering $50m from his Tyson fight all by itself.
Lewis first topped the WBC rankings when he defeated Donovan Ruddock in 1992, marking his 22nd win in a row. His first heavyweight title was a little lackluster as he gained it by default when Riddick Bowe surrendered it rather than face Lewis in the ring. Lennox defended the title thrice before a surprise loss to Oliver McCall, but he soon regained it.
Defeating Evander Holyfield made Lewis the undisputed champion, but perhaps his single most memorable bout was a highly anticipated contest against Mike Tyson, which he duly won.
Baseball is big business and our next sports star on the wealthy player list is Joey Votto of the MLB. He's still playing the game and raking in the cash and already has an estimated net worth of $110m. His MLB debut was back in 2007, when the Cincinnati Reds called on his services as a first baseman, and things must be going pretty well because he's been with the team ever since. On the field Votto has won a bevy of accolades, including half a dozen MLB All-Star Selections, as well as being a seven time winner of the Tip O'Neill Award. He's even won the Lou Marsh Trophy on two occasions, a trophy awarded to the player deemed the best Canadian athlete of the year.
Votto's playstyle involves a great deal of patience, and he has a career on-base percentage of an impressive .425. Defensive play is also at the heart of the game, and he's regularly led the league in terms of most assists for first basemen.
Fittingly just behind Gretzky on this list is one of the few men that can legitimately challenge the Great One for the title of greatest ever hockey player: fellow Canadian Mario Lemieux (known by the nickname the Magnificent One, among others). In a career bedevilled by injuries, Lemieux combined his imposing size with a surprising and impressive turn of speed to be something of a handful for the opposition. In the early 1990s he led the Pittsburgh Penguins to consecutive Stanley Cup triumphs and led Canada to win the Olympic gold medal in 2002. All this while suffering a laundry list of ailments, including severe back pain that meant other people had to tie his skates.
Lemieux is reckoned to be worth around $200m. Not too shabby, and things looked bright from the off when he became the first rookie to be named MVP (Most Valuable Player). After retiring, he became president, chairman, and CEO of the Penguins. He's won three Stanley Cups as an owner, rather than player, and his status as one of the best players of all time and a sharp mind for money has seen his fortune only grow. Between them Gretzky and Lemieux took hockey to new heights in Canada, which is part of the reason it has so many spin-offs, including video and casino games.
When it comes to the richest of Canadian sports stars it's hard to beat the man many will immediately think of when Canadian sports comes up, and arguably the most well-known champion in Canada: Wayne Gretzky, the Great One. For 20 years from 1979 to 1999 he was a leading light in the NHL, amassing an almost embarrassing number of records from topping the charts for goals, to assists, and points as well. Nobody else has scored more than 200 points in a season, yet Gretzky achieved this feat on no fewer than four separate occasions, making him the darling of both spectators and punters alike.
With playing skill like that, it's not hard to see how Gretzky amassed quite the sum during his career, and prudent financial management afterward (in stark contrast to some other sportsmen) has only seen his bank balance rise. During his time on the ice, Gretzky made just shy of $100m, roughly half from his salary and the rest from endorsements. These days he's said to be worth a quarter of a billion dollars, due to investments in real estate, team ownership, and other assets.
There we have it, 10 of the most wealthy sports stars and athletes in Canadian history. Some retired, some still active, but all with plenty of cash in the bank thanks to their sporting prowess. The bonus good news is that most of these stars are paying it forward, either through philanthropy or coaching so that athletes from tomorrow have a chance to shine as well.