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Cristiano Ronaldo Tops List of World’s Highest-Paid Athletes

Cristiano Ronaldo Becomes World's Highest-Paid Athlete
Forbes Magazine reports that Cristiano Ronaldo has become the world’s highest-paid athlete. Credit: Ludovic Péron / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Cristiano Ronaldo is now the world’s highest-paid athlete for the first time since 2017, as reported by Forbes magazine. His move to Saudi Arabian side Al Nassr almost doubled his annual playing salary, bringing his total earnings to $136 million.

Ronaldo’s estimated annual playing salary of $75 million is now significantly higher than his previous earnings.

Cristiano’s new contract with Al Nassr is reportedly worth more than 200 million euros ($220m). Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) duo Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe were ranked second and third on the list, respectively. Messi earned a combined $130 million, while Mbappe earned $120 million.

Los Angeles Lakers basketball player LeBron James ($119.5m) and Mexican boxer Canelo Alvarez ($110m) rounded out the top five. The advent of LIV Golf, a breakaway tour that has lured away some of the United States-based PGA Tour’s top players with huge sums of money, saw Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson, two of its golfers, make the top 10.

Forbes compiled the list based on on-field earnings figures that include prize money, salaries, and bonuses earned in the last 12 months. Off-field earnings, which are an estimate of sponsorship deals, appearance fees, licensing income, and cash returns from businesses that athletes operate, were also considered.

Former tennis ace Roger Federer, who is now retired, is the only retired player on the list, with earnings of $95.1 million. The top 10 list also includes four-time NBA champion Stephen Curry ($100.4m) and the Phoenix Suns’ Kevin Durant ($89.1m).

‘Messi’s future is a matter of much speculation’

Messi’s future plans are uncertain, as rumors suggest that he may return to Barcelona, join Cristiano Ronaldo in Saudi Arabia, or play for MLS with Inter Miami, according to Forbes. Despite the uncertainty, Messi’s earnings remain consistent with his previous years’ earnings.

Messi’s lucrative endorsements with companies such as Adidas, Budweiser, and PepsiCo contribute significantly to his earnings. His deal with Socios, a blockchain-based fan platform, pays him an estimated $20 million a year.

Winning the World Cup in December 2022 is another accomplishment that is likely to bring more opportunities for him. In addition, Messi recently launched an investment firm called Play Time in October.

World’s top 10 highest-paid athletes 2023

1. Cristiano Ronaldo, football: $136m (£108.7m)

2. Lionel Messi, football: $130m (£103.9m)

3. Kylian Mbappe, football: $120m (£95.9m)

4. LeBron James, basketball: $119.5m (£95.5m)

5. Canelo Alvarez, boxing: $110m (£87.9m)

6. Dustin Johnson, golf: $107m (£85.5m)

7. Phil Mickelson, golf: $106m (£84.7m)

8. Stephen Curry, basketball: $100.4m (£80.2m)

9. Roger Federer, tennis: $95.1m (£76m)

10. Kevin Durant, basketball: $89.1m (£71.2m)

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