The largest contracts in American sports history
Can you say "ka-ching"?
Slugger Aaron Judge has reportedly re-signed with the New York Yankees on a nine-year, $360 million contract. The payday will keep Judge in New York through the 2031 season, and is one of the largest free-agent signings in sports history. However, when it comes to big numbers for star athletes, Judge's contract is just one of many. While not an exhaustive list, here are some of the largest contracts in U.S. sports history:
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs — 10 years, $503M
Patrick Mahomes was always destined to be a star in the National Football League. Since his debut season in 2017, the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback has made over 1,800 completions and has thrown for 22,800 yards in his career. His 181 total touchdown passes make him one of the most potent offensive weapons in football today, and he led the Chiefs to victory in Super Bowl LIV in 2019, where he was named the third-youngest Super Bowl MVP ever. It should come as no surprise, then, that Mahomes signed a 10-year, $503 million contract extension with the Chiefs in 2020. The deal was the largest-known contract in the history of American sports and ranks just behind soccer star Lionel Messi's reported $674 million deal as the largest sports deal ever (though the details of Messi's contract are unconfirmed.)
Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels — 12 years, $426.5M
Speaking of baseball sluggers, Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout must certainly be named among the game's best. The New Jersey native has played his entire career with the Angels since breaking into Major League Baseball in 2011. Since then, he has arguably become one of the best hitters to ever play the game, drawing comparisons to Babe Ruth. Having swatted 360 home runs, Trout is inching ever closer to 1,600 hits and is just shy of 900 RBIs. Garnering a respectable .303 batting average over the course of his career, it was clear that the Angels wouldn't want to let him walk — and they didn't, signing a 12-year, $426.5 million contract in 2020, the year before he would've become a free agent. The inking ranks as the largest deal in the history of baseball.
Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers — 12 years, $365M
Despite being drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 2011, right fielder Mookie Betts did not make his debut in MLB until three years later. Once he did, though, he made his presence known immediately. Through six seasons with the Red Sox, Betts became the star piece of Boston's outfield and made a difference with his bat almost every night, notching 965 hits during his time in Beantown, including 139 home runs. However, baseball, like all sports, is a business, and the Red Sox would eventually trade Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2020. In July of that year, he signed a 12-year extension with the Dodgers worth $365 million, the largest contract in team history and the third-largest in American sports.
Aaron Judge, New York Yankees — nine years, $360M
It would be impossible to write this list without including Judge himself. While the slugger and reigning American League MVP was rumored to have shopped around a number of teams, the free agent reportedly re-signed for the long term with the Yankees. The nine-year contract is the icing on the cake following a history-breaking season for Judge. The 30-year-old went on a hitting rampage during the 2022 season, and he ultimately broke the American League single-season home run record set by the legendary Roger Maris with 62 long balls. In his seven-year career, all with the Yankees, Judge has 748 total hits and 220 home runs. He also sits with a .284 batting average over his career, and while it may not be as good as Trout's, it is certainly not a statistic to turn your nose up at.
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets — five years, $264M
Many people might be surprised to find out that the richest contract in NBA history doesn't belong to Lebron James, Steph Curry, or Giannis Antetokounmpo. Instead, that crown belongs to Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, who signed a five-year contract extension in 2022 worth $264 million. This makes it the largest contract in the history of basketball, and comes as the four-time All-Star's value continues to rise. A native of Serbia, Jokic was drafted by the Nuggets in 2014 and joined the team a year later. In the following seven seasons, he has become the undisputed star of the franchise. In his 548 games played for the Nuggets, Jokic averages just over 30 minutes played per night and averages just under 20 points, while also putting up a respectable 82.9 free throw percentage.
Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals — 13 years, $124M
Put simply, Alexander Ovechkin knows how to find the back of the net. The Washington Capitals captain has been scoring elite goals since he entered the NHL in 2005. Entering the last year of his rookie contract in 2008, the Capitals signed Ovechkin to a 13-year, $124 million extension. The deal was the first-ever NHL contract worth over $100 million and put him cleanly at the top of the list as the highest-paid hockey player. The Capitals were clearly impressed by Ovechkin's innate ability to score goals. Having played just over 1,300 games in his career, Ovechkin is just eight tallies shy of the illustrious 800-goal mark. While he is 37, this means he could have the chance to catch the legendary Wayne Gretzky's NHL-record 894 goals.