How Do You Compare to Your Sporting Heroes?

Sports Pro versus Average Joe: The Race to £1 Million

They may be quicker than you on the pitch or round the track but how do your favourite sports stars compare to you at speed of earning?

Expert Market UK has analysed data from the Forbes 2016 rich list and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to put the salaries of some of the most successful athletes of 2016 into perspective. The results show how long it takes for top athletes to earn £1 million, compared to the average working individual. By considering high earning athletes’ salaries in terms of how quickly they can make £1 million makes it much easier to grasp the scale of their financial achievements. Try the quiz below to find out who sets the pace and who has to chase in the race to £1 million. The results may surprise you!

Quick off the Mark

The world’s fastest earning athlete is Cristiano Ronaldo. He can reach the millionaire’s mark in just over 45 working hours, or one working week. Second to Ronaldo is fellow footballer Lionel Messi, while American footballer Joe Flacco sits in third place. In Britain, Lewis Hamilton comes out on top: the formula one racer can pass to the million pound finish line in 7.57 working days.

Sports Occupations Speed of EarningClick image above to see full sized

Perhaps predictably, out of the ‘normal’ jobs, chief executives ranked first. The business leaders can earn the grand total of £1 million in just eight years, on average. Bartenders may want to start taking those weekend workouts more seriously however, as this profession fared the worst. Modest average hourly earnings of £6.78 means it will take 72 years of shifts for staff to total the amount. Further data on speed of earning, for various athletes and occupations, is available at the end of this article.

On The Back Foot

One similarity between sports stardom and everyday occupations is the disappointing fate of women. Depressingly, no women made it into the top 20 rankings for quickest earning athletes in 2016 and only 5 women were featured in the top 30. American mixed martial artist Ronda Rousey is the quickest female to earn £1 million and could do so in 31.84 days – not bad at all, but over five times slower than the quickest earning male athlete.

Women lagged behind men across every ‘ordinary’ profession studied too, except those working as vets. The average female professional would take 35.44 years to earn £1 million, trailing 3.7 years behind the average male.

The Data

The data uses a selection of high earning athletes from various sports and a range of occupations from various industries, to reflect a wider portion of society. All data is based on full-time work pre-tax earnings, excluding endorsement deals, and is reported in GBP (£). All salaries are normalised to a 5 day working week of 8 hours per day, for all 253 working days of 2016.


Individual Sport Days to reach £1 million
Cristiano Ronaldo Football, Real Madrid 5.68
Lionel Messi Football, Barcelona 5.96
Joe Flacco American Football, Baltimore Ravens 7.23
Lewis Hamilton Formula 1 Racing, Mercedes 7.57
Sebastian Vettel Formula 1 Racing, Ferrari 7.96
Eli Manning American Football, New York Giants 8.60
Floyd Mayweather Boxing 9.93
Ryan Howard Baseball 12.72
Gareth Bale Football, Real Madrid 12.77
LeBron James Basketball, Cleveland Cavaliers 13.71
Manny Pacquiao Boxing 14.79
Matt Kemp Baseball, Atlanta Braves 15.01
Wayne Rooney Football, Manchester United 15.83
Bastian Schweinsteiger Football, Manchester United 16.40
Peyton Manning American Football, retired in 2016 16.56
Conor McGregor Mixed Martial Arts 17.67
Eden Hazard Football, Chelsea 18.71
Sergio Agüero Football, Manchester City 18.95
Neymar Football, Barcelona 21.95
Stephen Curry Basketball, Golden State Warriors 27.45
Ronda Rousey Mixed Martial Arts 31.84
Serena Williams Tennis 35.74
Andy Murray Tennis 39.76
Danica Patrick Stock Car Racing 40.31
Roger Federer Tennis 40.78
Rory McIlroy Golf 41.86
Rafael Nadal Tennis 57.84
Agnieszka Radwanska Tennis 61.24
Usain Bolt Athletics 127.22
Maria Sharapova Tennis 167.41
Caroline Wozniacki Tennis 318.38
Eugenie Bouchard Tennis 454.82
Tiger Woods Golf 1,160.66

‘Ordinary’ Jobs

Occupation Years to reach £1 million
Chief executives or senior official 8.09
Marketing and Sales directors 11.38
Aircraft pilot 11.51
Medical practitioners 12.76
Advertising and public relations directors 15.78
Legal professional 16.91
Information technology and telecommunications professionals 21.70
Science, research, engineering and technology professionals 22.60
Chartered and certified accountants 23.01
Police officer (sergeant or below) 24.93
Teaching and educational professionals 25.64
Veterinarians 25.80
Paramedic 26.42
Journalists, newspaper and periodical editors 26.89
Midwives 27.59
Fire service officer (watch manager or below) 30.29
Nurse 31.09
Electrician 31.60
Librarians and related professionals 34.89
Farmer 35.61
Youth and community workers 38.95
Taxi and cab drivers and chauffeurs 38.98
Sports coaches, instructors and officials 39.27
Security guards and related occupations 42.78
Chef 48.83
Sales and customer service occupations 49.60
Fitness instructor 54.95
Shelf Stacker 60.66
Hairdresser or barber 65.56
Bar Staff 72.82

Gender Comparison

Occupation MEN ONLY: Years to reach £1 million WOMEN ONLY: Years to reach £1 million
Chief executives or senior official 7.08 11.99
Marketing and Sales directors 10.73 14.16
Advertising and public relations directors 15.17 16.63
Legal professional 14.73 19.75
Information technology and telecommunications professionals 21.24 25.00
Science, research, engineering and technology professionals 22.07 25.85
Police officer (sergeant or below) 24.27 27.06
Teaching and educational professionals 23.16 27.56
Veterinarians 27.20 25.15
Paramedic 25.08 29.25
Journalists, newspaper and periodical editors 25.48 30.23
Fire service officer (watch manager or below) 30.22 30.78
Librarians and related professionals 33.71 35.55
Youth and community workers 37.15 39.77
Sports coaches, instructors and officials 38.68 40.57
Chef 47.88 52.32
Sales and customer service occupations 46.15 53.38
Shelf Stacker 59.86 62.61
Hairdresser or barber 53.01 67.30
Bar Staff 71.96 73.88
Average 31.74 35.44