American business magazine Forbes has released its annual top 100 rankings of the World’s Highest-Paid Athletes. Forbes calculated the players’ earnings by adding their respective prize money, salaries and endorsements between June 2018 and June 2019. However, here are the top ten richest athletes in the world
Last year’s highest-paid athlete Floyd Mayweather ($285m) has dropped off the 2019 list altogether. The boxer’s last competitive match came back in 2017 against Conor McGregor, after which he has only featured in an exhibition match against Japan’s Tenshin Nasukawa.
The top 100 list includes athletes from 25 countries, with their combined earnings of $4bn up by 5% from the previous year. Below are the top 10 rankings of Forbes 2019 List of World’s Highest-Paid Athletes.
- Lionel Messi – Football ($127m)
Argentina and Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi is the highest-paid athlete in the world, earning $127m over the last year, including $35 million off the pitch from sponsorships and partners Adidas, MasterCard, Gatorade, Huawei, PepsiCo and more.
The 32-year old finished the season with his sixth European Golden Shoe as he scored 36 goals in the Spanish top-flight. He also won his tenth La Liga title but missed out on the Champions League and Copa del Rey.
Lionel Messi becomes only the second footballer to achieve the feat after his counterpart Cristiano Ronaldo bagged top spot in 2016 before reclaiming it the following year. He also becomes only the fourth athlete to top the rankings in the last 19 years, with golfing legend Tiger Woods claiming the prize 12 times, American boxing superstar Floyd Mayweather four times and Ronaldo two times.
- Cristiano Ronaldo – Football ($109m)
The Portugal and Juventus forward sits second on the list this year, earning $109m, with a massive $44 coming in endorsements of partners Nike, Herbalife, Altice, DAZN, MTG, Electronic Arts and more.
Ronaldo recently lifted his second international trophy as his side triumphed over the Netherlands in the UEFA Nations League final in Porto. The former Real Madrid man also won the Serie A and Coppa Italia titles with Juventus after his €112m move to the Italian giants last summer.
Within 24 hours of release last year, Juventus sold a mammoth 520,000 Ronaldo jerseys worth over $60 million. The 33-year old also boasts an incredible social media following, recently becoming the the most followed celebrity on Instagram with almost 400 million total followers and counting.
- Neymar Jr. – Football ($105m)
Messi’s former teammate and Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar claims third position, earning $105m. The Brazilian’s inclusion in the top three means that it is the first time that the top ten richest athletes list has had football players as the world’s top three earners.
Neymar’s $263m transfer from Barcelona in 2017 stands as the most expensive in football history. He earns $30m through endorsements, which includes DAZN, Beats Electronics, Electronic Arts, Gillette, Mastercard, McDonald’s, Nike, Red Bull, TCL and more.
- Canelo Alvarez – Boxing ($94m)
Boxing’s biggest pay-per-view star Canelo Alvarez has cracked the top 10 of the Forbes Highest-Paid Athletes this year. Alvarez is tied with number-one spot holder Lionel Messi for having earned the most specifically in their given sport, with both earning $92 million.
The Mexican grossed another $2 million through endorsement deals with DAZN and Everlast. DAZN committed $365 million in 2018 to lock up Alvarez’s next 11 fights. His first two fights on the streaming service earned him roughly $50m combined, with future fights potentially pocketing $35m each.
- Roger Federer – Tennis ($93.4m)
Tennis’ greatest player of all time Roger Federer sits in fifth place in the Top ten richest athletes list. The Swiss legend has pocketed $124 million through prize money in his career, but his total earnings amounts to his off-court appearances and endorsements.
Federer has earned $86m through his partners Credit Suisse, Mercedes-Benz and Rolex, making him the highest-paid athlete from endorsements. Japanese sports giant Uniqlo signed a 10-year contract with the tennis star last year worth $300m.
His charitable works include the Roger Federer Foundation which has raised more than $40m, educating one million children in Africa.
- Russell Wilson – American Football ($89.5m)
American football player Russel Wilson recently became the NFL’s highest-paid player after signing a four-year contract extension with the Seattle Seahawks worth $140m. Wilson lead the Seahawks to their only Super Bowl Championship win in the 2013-14 season.
The six-time Pro Bowler is also the CEO of brand management company West2East Empire. Apart from his $80.5m in salary, he pockets $9m from his partners Wilson Sporting Goods, Amazon, Alaska Air Group, Bose, Mercedes-Benz and Nike.
- Aaron Rodgers – American Football ($89.3m)
Seven-time Pro Bowler and two-time MVP winner Aaron Rodgers is placed 7th on the Forbes Top ten richest athletes rankings, earning $89.3m. In August 2018, Rodgers signed a then-highest four-year contract worth $134 million.
He also purchased a minority ownership stake in NBA team Milwaukee Bucks. Rodgers is known to be the fastest-ever quarterback to reach 300 passing touchdowns, only in 144 games. His passer rating is the highest in NFL history.
His partners include Prevea Healthcare, Panini, Adidas, Bose and State Farm.
- LeBron James – Basketball ($89m)
Basketball superstar LeBron James signed with the Los Angeles Lakers last year on a four-year contract worth $153 million. His endorsement portfolio includes Beats Electronics, Coca-Cola, KIA Motors, Nike and more.
The four-time NBA MVP owns a production company called SpringHill Entertainment and a media company Uninterrupted. His charitable works include the LeBron James Family Foundation which opened its first elementary school last year, planning to spend $41 million to send uneducated kids to college. All these activities place him in the Top ten richest athletes list.
- Stephen Curry – Basketball ($79.8m)
Two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry has been one of the most marketable athletes in the world in recent years, sitting at 9th on the Forbes list of Top ten richest athletes, earning $79.8m.
Curry signed the NBA’s first $200m contract in 2017. He also owns a production company called Unanimous media which is in talks with Sony Pictures over a deal. His sponsorship roster includes Chase, Nissan Motor, Under Armour and more.
- Kevin Durant – Basketball ($65.4m)
Ten-time All-Star Kevin Durant completes the top 10 Highest Paid-Athletes list, according to Forbes. The basketball player earns $35 million from sponsors Google, Alaska Air Group, Nike and others, but he’s also invested in more than 30 companies.
The Kevin Durant Charity Foundation aims to bring the College Track academic program to his Maryland hometown. The project, launched in 2018, costs $10 million.
More about the rankings
The list contains a staggering 62 American athletes and only 38 foreign athletes. The NBA dominated the rankings, with 35 basketball players making the top 100.
23-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams is the only female athlete to make the top 100, earning $29.2m. Five-time Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton and former world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua were the highest-placed British athletes, sitting at joint 13th on $55million.
2018 World Cup winner Paul Pogba is the highest earning Premier League player in the top 100, with the France and Manchester United midfielder sitting 44th on the list with $33m.
20-year old Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe’s remarkable story continues as the Frenchman takes 55th place ($30.6m) on the list.
“The global impact of soccer is clearly reflected in earnings in 2019, with the top three athletes on the list being Messi, Ronaldo, and Neymar,” said Kurt Badenhausen, senior editor at Forbes Media, reflecting on the rankings.
“But basketball players continue to dominate the top 100 overall with 35 athletes on the list earning a total of $1.29 billion, with 72% of that income coming from salaries rather than endorsement deals”, he added.