Forbes has ranked the highest paid athletes in the world and former boxer Floyd Mayweather and football player Lionel Messi are leading.
These athletes make their money not just from sports but also from endorsements and TV contracts.
Below is a report by Forbes staff, Kurt Badenhausen:
Floyd Mayweather heads the world’s highest-paid athletes for the fourth time in seven years, thanks to a $275 million payday for his August boxing match against UFC star Conor McGregor. The two fighters defied naysayers who said the match would never take place and laughed all the way to the bank, with career-high paydays. McGregor’s take: an estimated $85 million, more than five times his previous biggest check.
Fans couldn’t resist tuning in to see if the brash McGregor could take away Mayweather’s beloved ‘0.’ The two fighters produced an entertaining 10-round battle, and viewers around the globe watched Mayweather improve to a record of 50-0 for his career. The 4.3 million pay-per-view buyers helped the fight generate more than $550 million in total revenue.
Mayweather generated another $10 million outside the ring from appearances, memorabilia and endorsements with Hublot and Tequila Avion to bring his total earnings for the year to $285 million. He joins Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods as the only athletes to earn $1 billion since turning pro (see How Floyd Mayweather Made $275 Million For One Night Of Work).
McGregor’s endorsement portfolio earned the Irishman $14 million by Forbes’ count from partners Burger King, Beats by Dre, Monster Energy and Anheuser-Busch. His $99 million in total earnings ranks fourth among all athletes.
Cristiano Ronaldo was the world’s best-paid athlete the past two years, and the Real Madrid star edged Lionel Messi both years for FIFA’s Player of the Year award. But Messi tops his rival this year for earnings, after a contract extension with Barcelona that will keep him with the club through 2020-2021. Messi’s annual salary and bonus exceeded $80 million before taxes, making him the highest-paid player on the pitch this year. He ranks second overall with $111 million, including $27 million through endorsement deals with Adidas, Gatorade, Pepsi and Huawei.
Ronaldo ranks among the three top-earning athletes for the sixth straight year. His $108 million haul over the past 12 months trails only Mayweather and Messi. The Portuguese forward is soccer’s most marketable player. His lifetime Nike contract is worth upwards of $1 billion. He has an array of other deals, including Herbalife, EA Sports and American Tourister, along with a growing line of CR7 branded products for shoes, underwear, fragrance, jeans, children’s clothing, hotels and soon-to-open restaurants in Brazil. He remains the most popular athlete in the world on social media, with 322 million followers combined on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Neymar is the third soccer star in the top five. He jumps 13 spots to fifth with an income of $90 million, including $19 million from endorsement partners. Last August, the Brazilian forward signed a five-year contract with Paris Saint-Germain worth $350 million (PSG was also on the for an another $250 million to Barcelona to release Neymar from his contract there).