Lewis Hamilton has increased his wealth by more than £25m over the past year to take his total fortune to £131m and claim the title of the richest sportsperson in the UK.
Hamilton, 32, the three-time FIA Formula One world champion, ranks ahead of Manchester United’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Wayne Rooney in this year’s Sunday Times rich list. He took the top spot thanks to his driving fees from Mercedes and a string of lucrative sponsorship deals including with L’Oréal, IWC watches and Bombardier, which supplies the private jet he uses to travel the world to races.
Hamilton, who moved to the tax haven of Monaco from Switzerland, another tax-light jurisdiction, in 2012, has said he does pay tax in the UK. “What people don’t realise is that I pay tax here, but I don’t earn all my money here. I race in 19 different countries, so I earn my money in 20 different places and I pay tax in several different places, and I pay a lot here as well,” he told the Sunday Times Style magazine. “I am contributing to the country and, not only that, I help keep a team of more than 1,000 people employed. I am part of a much bigger picture.”
Hamilton could be in line for an even bigger pay package this year as a bonus clause in his F1 contract could see his driving fees from Mercedes lifted to £33m if he secures his fourth drivers title. He is currently second in the championship behind Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
Rooney is no longer the richest Manchester United player, having been leapfrogged by Ibrahimovic, whose wealth is estimated at £110m.
The 35-year-old Swedish international, who is currently injured, has commanded huge wages for a decade or more in a career taking in Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan, Barcelona, Inter Milan – and now Manchester United. On top of his £220,000-a-week salary at Old Trafford, he also benefits from a long-term endorsement deal with Nike and has trademarked his first name with the Swedish Patent and Registration Office. It is the first time he has been included in the list, as he joined Manchester United this season.
Rooney took third place in the annual list with a £93m fortune, up £11m on last year.
The racing driver Jenson Button, who currently does not have a permanent team place and also lives in Monaco, is fourth on the list with £86m, up £9m in the last 12 months.
Rory McIlroy and Andy Murray also made the top 10 along with two football managers: Manchester United’s Jose Mourinho and Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola. Mourinho’s wealth, boosted by sponsorships and commercial deals with brands including Heineken, Hublot watches, Jaguar, BT Sport and Adidas, is reckoned to be £61m.
Real Madrid’s Welsh star Gareth Bale has a total fortune estimated at £54m – up £20m in the last 12 months, while the Sudanese-British NBA star Luol Deng is tied with Guardiola at the bottom of the top 10, each with £50m.
There were no female sports stars in the top 10.