Michael Phelps Net Worth

As of 8/10/16, the Michael Phelps net worth total of $44.3 million comes almost entirely from endorsement deals with major companies like Under Armour and Visa. Even adjusting for inflation, the endorsement climate has changed drastically in the past ten years. As our world gets more connected and the distribution of content grows increasingly ubiquitous, famous people can turn their fame to riches far more easily than ever in the past. Phelps has earned an estimated total of $95.8 million in his life, with $94 million of that coming straight from advertisers. Taxes sink nearly $43.5 million and expenses pull under another $14.4 million. Investments buoy things up by $6.3 million since 2001.

Michael Phelps Net Worth Facts

Michael Phelps Net Worth Facts
Michael Phelps net worth$44,318,074
Michael Phelps net worth vs Carl Lewis net worthTwice as big
Michael Phelps net worth vs Mark Spitz net worthTwice as big
Michael Phelps net worth vs Jesse Owens net worth9 times bigger
Michael Phelps net worth vs LeBron James net worthOne fifth as big
Michael Phelps net worth vs Matt Biondi net worth6 times bigger
Michael Phelps net worth vs Serena Williams net worthOne third as big
Michael Phelps net worth vs Steph Curry net worth65% bigger
Michael Phelps net worth vs Hillary Clinton net worth38% bigger
Michael Phelps net worth vs typical American family net worth651 times bigger

The Michael Phelps net worth sum of $44,288,336 is twice as big as Olympic Gold Medal champion runner Carl Lewis’ net worth of $20 million. It’s also twice as big as nine time Gold Medal swimmer Mark Spitz’ net worth, also $20 million. Phelps has nine times more net worth than Olympian Jesse Owens at $5 million and six times more net worth than Olympic swimmer Matt Biondi. Why is Michael Phelps’ net worth so much bigger than the net worths of these other Olympians? Quite simply, he got a later start. Even considering inflation, these champions should have more money than Phelps just based on the power of compound interest alone. They don’t. That’s because endorsement deals have gone on steroids in the past ten years, reaching levels never before seen in history. Fame is rare, like gold. If someone has it, companies will pay a lot to rent it from them. Phelps is riding that wave in style. Compared to newcomers to the fame and money game, Phelps doesn’t stack up quite as well. LeBron James has five times more net worth than Michael Phelps with $223 million. Of course James has a sky high salary in addition to endorsement deals. Serena Williams has three times more money than Phelps with $133 million. NBA legend Steph Curry has 65% less money than the Michael Phelps net worth number with $27 million, but Curry hasn’t been around for very long yet, give him time. Finally, Hillary Clinton has 38% less money than Phelps with $32 million.

Michael Phelps Net Worth Timeline

Michael Phelps Net Worth Timeline

Michael Phelps Net Worth by Year
Michael Phelps net worth 2001$406,413
Michael Phelps net worth 2002$857,871
Michael Phelps net worth 2003$1,334,046
Michael Phelps net worth 2004$2,634,694
Michael Phelps net worth 2005$3,966,096
Michael Phelps net worth 2006$5,341,154
Michael Phelps net worth 2007$6,775,178
Michael Phelps net worth 2008$8,266,136
Michael Phelps net worth 2009$11,368,193
Michael Phelps net worth 2010$14,566,018
Michael Phelps net worth 2011$17,874,648
Michael Phelps net worth 2012$21,287,803
Michael Phelps net worth 2013$26,743,830
Michael Phelps net worth 2014$32,424,357
Michael Phelps net worth 2015$38,275,290
Michael Phelps net worth 2016$44,318,074

The Michael Phelps net worth story is a tale of endorsement deals, with swimming fame as a doorway through to them. Phelps was in the 2000 Summer Olympics at age 15. That made him the youngest man in the Olympics since 1932. While he didn’t win a medal, his impressive performances set him up for the 2000 World Aquatics Championships, where he broke the 200 meter butterfly world record. Phelps landed a deal with Speedo as a result. He distinguished himself with standout performances at the 2002 Pan Pacific Championships and the 2003 World Championships, then won six Gold Medals and two Bronze Medals in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. More endorsement deals piled on as a result. When Phelps returned to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, he took home eight medals and gave his fame another shot in the arm. Four Golds and two Silvers came after excellent performances in several non-Olympic championships. The notoriety and the endorsement deals continued to build. See below for the breakdown of how medals and ad money built the Michael Phelps net worth fortune.

Michael Phelps Net Worth Breakdown

Michael Phelps Net Worth Sources: Swimming and Endorsements

Michael Phelps Net WorthLooked at from one perspective, the Michael Phelps net worth number comes entirely from swimming, because swimming is where Phelps earned his fame. Looked at from another angle, swimming chipped in very little money to Phelp’s fortune and it all comes down to endorsement deals. The chart above shows it pretty plainly: the money comes from the sponsors. That’s especially true of an athlete who doesn’t have a way to earn a regular salary from his chosen sport. Contrary to popular belief, Olympic athletes do earn some money for their medals. They get $25,000 for each Gold medal, $15,000 for each Silver and $10,000 for each Bronze. That money can’t compete with the millions heaped on repeat winners in endorsement contracts. Phelps’ average salary since he became famous is nearly $6 million per year. In 2016, he has reached a career high of $12 million a year. The table below shows the full breakdown, plus taxes, expenses and investment income. For deeper details on his swimming and endorsement income by year, see the sections below.

Michael Phelps Net Worth Sources
Swimming Competitions (medals)$1,885,000
Total Michael Phelps Earnings$95,885,000
Michael Phelps Salary (average)$5,992,813
Michael Phelps Salary 2016$12,075,000
Michael Phelps Net Worth$44,318,074

Related: Serena Williams Net Worth

Michael Phelps Net Worth from Swimming

Michael Phelps net worth from swimming 1.8 millionEven without endorsement deals, Phelps has made a pretty good living from swimming. Let us rephrase that. Compared to normal humans, the Michael Phelps net worth numbers are pretty high, even if we just look at his direct income from pool time. Stacked up against the earnings of heavy hitters like LeBron James or Tiger Woods, Phelps’ swimming income is paltry. Phelps has earned $1.8 million since 2001, just from swimming medals. That’s equivalent to a salary of $113,000 per year. That number is based on $25,000 for each of the 21 Olympic Gold medals Phelps has won, plus $15,000 for each of his two Silvers and $10,000 for each of his two Bronzes. It’s also based on 37 Gold medals, 11 Silver medals and one Bronze in various National, World and Pan Pacific championships. We don’t have exact dollar figures on the cash awards for medals in those non-Olympic contests but applying the Olympic payouts to them gives a fair estimate. The table below shows Phelp’s swimming medal money totals from all years so far. His real money comes from endorsement deals, so see the section below for that.

Michael Phelps Net Worth from Winning Swimming Competitions
YearWinnings from Swimming MedalsContestMedals
2001$25,000World Aquatics ChampionshipGold
2002$105,000Pan Pacific Championship3 Gold, 2 Silver
2003$130,000World Aquatics Championship4 Gold, 2 Silver
2004$170,000Olympics - Athens6 Gold, 2 Bronze
2005$140,000World Aquatics Championship5 Gold, 1 Silver
2006$140,000Pan Pacific Championship5 Gold, 1 Silver
2007$175,000World Aquatics Championship7 Gold
2008$200,000Olympics - Beijing8 Gold
2009$140,000World Aquatics Championship5 Gold, 1 Silver
2010$125,000Pan Pacific Championship5 Gold
2011$140,000World Aquatics Championship4 Gold, 2 Silver, 1 Bronze
2012$130,000Olympics - London4 Gold, 2 Silver
2014$115,000Pan Pacific Championship3 Gold, 2 Silver
2015$75,000World Aquatics Championship3 Gold
2016$75,000Olympics - Rio de Janeiro - ongoing
Total Michael Phelps Net Worth from Winning Swimming Competitions$1,885,000

Michael Phelps Net Worth from Endorsement Deals

Michael Phelps EndorsementsEndorsement deals are by far the biggest source of the Michael Phelps net worth figure with an estimated $94 million total. While Phelps hasn’t released exact dollar amounts on any of his deals, we do know who the deals were with and we can make close guesses based on known numbers in deals with other athletes. The table below shows Phelps’ sponsor money by year. Phelps has signed deals with Speedo, Visa, Omega watches, Subway, Kellog, Under Armour, Louis Vuitton, Procter & Gamble, Hilton hotels, HP, Powerbar, Head and Shoulders and several smaller companies. Based on the size and exposure of his deals, we built the numbers in the table below. Under Armour is known for signing big multi-year deals, so that’s a good indication that Phelps is in the upper reaches. Product endorsements happen on a scale anywhere from $100,000 a year for a minor athlete all the way up to the $25 million a year of a LeBron James or the $50 million a year of a Tiger Woods or Jordan Spieth. Phelps is somewhere in the upper middle category, currently earning an estimated $12 million a year in endorsement pay.

Michael Phelps Net Worth from Endorsements
YearEstimated Earnings
Total Michael Phelps Net Worth from Endorsements$94,000,000

Related: Cristiano Ronaldo Net Worth

Did the Marijuana Smoking Hurt?

How much did pot smoking hurt the Michael Phelps net worth numbers? Very little, if at all. It’s true that Phelps admitted to smoking marijuana and lost his sponsorship with Kellog as a result.  However, the old adage “No publicity is bad publicity” held true in the swimmer’s case, with more endorsement deals piling on to take the place of the breakfast conglomerate. If anything, the mild drug use may have even helped Phelps’ endorsement power by keeping him in the public eye longer and making him something of a cult hero among young people faced with hiding their own vices from their parents. Big name companies are quick to forgive infractions like marijuana smoking, speeding tickets and non-fatal car accidents. It’s only when a celebrity gets indicted for spousal abuse or other violent crime that the sponsor money dries up in a hurry. For evidence, see our writeups of Chris Brown’s net worth or Floyd Mayweather’s net worth. Those are two great examples of rich celebs who’d be a whole lot richer if not for attention surrounding abuse convictions.

How Accurate Are Our Michael Phelps Net Worth Numbers?

Can you trust the numbers in this article? Yes and no. Full disclosure: nobody on earth knows Michael Phelps’ true net worth except Michael Phelps and his accountant. Phelps isn’t required to release those numbers publicly and he hasn’t done it by choice. All Michael Phelps net worth numbers online are either estimates or outright guesses. We do have solid numbers for the money Phelps made from his Olympic medal wins. We also know he very probably made similar money for his non-Olympic world swimming competition medals. We know he doesn’t have any significant business income to speak of. We also know the companies he’s had endorsement deals with, and roughly what those deals ought to be worth. We’ve done tax, expense and investment calculations following the most likely models and using his state of residence and income bracket to figure out his tax rate. In short, are our numbers exact? No. Are they a lot closer to reality than any other numbers on the web? Very probably.

Related: Manuel Neuer Net Worth

Michael Phelps Net Worth in the Future

Will Phelps continue to get richer, and if so, how fast? That all depends on one thing: fame. Fame is bankable. If the swimmer were to sweep the 2016 Olympics, he’d have a lot of it and would be set up with more high-dollar endorsement deals for years to come. That’s unlikely to happen, but even if he does poorly but in some way catches the public imagination, he can still walk away with some fat advertising deals to last five years or more. One thing is for certain: Phelps’ net worth isn’t going to shrink drastically at any time in the near future. He’s unlikely to try to dodge taxes like Lionel Messi with his recent tax fraud conviction, nor is he likely to pour it all down the drain like 50 Cent.

Michael Phelps Net Worth Calculations

While it would be great for Michael Phelps if he got to keep his $95.8 million in lifetime earnings, he doesn’t. $43.5 million of the Michael Phelps net worth amount gets siphoned of to pay his taxes. Phelps is in the top U.S. federal tax bracket of 39.6% and adds Maryland’s highest tax rate of 5.75%. He also has agent fees to cover, like for example the fees golf legend Rory McIlroy apparently tried to avoid that wound up costing him millions in the long run. Between those, cost of living and other expenses, Phelps has shelled out an estimated $14.4 million in payouts in his lifetime. Investments calculated at a conservative $6.3 million add back a little fiscal float. The table below shows the details. The “adjustments” column contains taxes, expenses and investments. It’s negative because taxes and expenses overwhelm the positive influence of Phelps’ investment earnings.

Michael Phelps Net Worth Calculations
YearTotal Michael Phelps Earnings (Medals, Endorsements)Adjustments (Tax, Expense, Investment)Michael Phelps Net Worth
Michael Phelps Net Worth Totals$95,885,000-$51,566,926$44,318,074

If you liked reading about Michael Phelps’ net worth, try this post about tennis star Serena Williams’ net worth or this one about famous footballer Cristiano Ronaldo’s net worth. All Michael Phelps net worth data in this article are based on our analysis of income streams, tax, expense and investment calculations, estimates and media reports and are provided here for entertainment purposes only.