Lionel Messi beats Cristiano Ronaldo as world’s best paid athlete

REVEALED: Lionel Messi pips Cristiano Ronaldo as world’s best paid athlete after earning £99.8m in the past 12 months… while Canelo Alvarez beats Roger Federer and NBA stars LeBron James and Steph Curry on rich list

  • Barcelona star Lionel Messi is currently the best paid athlete in the world
  • He beat Cristiano Ronaldo by £14m after taking home £99.8m in the last year
  • Neymar completes the top three and cements football’s dominance at the top
  • But basketball players dominate the top 100 overall with 35 stars on Forbes’ list 
  • The UK has five athletes on the list – the most of any country outside of the U.S.

Lionel Messi has beaten Cristiano Ronaldo to be crowned the world’s best paid athlete.

The Barcelona star took home £99.8million from salary and endorsements over the past 12 months, £14m more than Juventus talisman Ronaldo.

The world’s most expensive ever footballer, Neymar, completes the top three as footballers dominate the podium spots of Forbes’ list of the 100 highest paid athletes.

Lionel Messi was the highest paid athlete in the world in past 12 months, according to Forbes

He pipped Cristiano Ronaldo after taking home £99.8m, £14m more than the Juventus star

Neymar completed the top three to ensure football dominates the podium spots on the list

Messi leapfrogged Floyd Mayweather, who held the crown last year after his lucrative bout with Conor McGregor ensured he would lead the way for the fourth time in seven years.

‘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, Forbes Media. 

‘But basketball players continue to dominate the top 100 overall with 35 athletes on the list earning a total of $1.29 billion (£1.01bn), with 72 per cent of that income coming from salaries rather than endorsement deals.’ 

Basketball dominates the overall top 100 with 35 athletes making the cut, which has reached its highest entry requirement ever at $25m (£19.6m). 

LeBron James was the highest paid basketballer as the American sport dominated the top 100

Roger Federer’s sponsorships and other endorsements ensured he placed in the top five

The UK has the most athletes in the list of any country other than the United States, with five in total. Lewis Hamilton placed 13th – tied with Anthony Joshua, Rory McIlroy 32nd, Justin Rose 47th and Gareth Bale 79th.

Hamilton and Joshua both took home £43.2m ($55m), while McIlroy landed £30.7m ($39m). 

Serena Williams made a welcome return to the overall top 100, placing 63rd after no women featured on the list last year. 

The top five saw boxer Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez steal a march on tennis great Roger Federer by £600,000, while American footballers Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers spearhead the American charge, with Basketball heavyweights LeBron James, Steph Curry and Kevin Durant all making the top 10.

Lewis Hamilton leads five British names on the list – the most of any country outside of the U.S.

Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez placed fourth on the list, ahead of Federer, James and Steph Curry

Manchester United had two players on the list; France midfielder Paul Pogba was ranked 44th having earned £25.9m ($33m) of which £22.8m ($29m) was salary alone, and Alexis Sanchez in 53rd, who earned £24.2m ($30.8m).

The earnings include prize money, salaries and bonuses earned between June 1 2018 and June 1 2019. Forbes used endorsements as estimates of sponsorships, appearance fees and licensing incomes in the same period. Taxes and agents’ fees are not deducted.

The full list of the top 100 athletes can be found here.  

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