Last Wednesday, Forbes released a list of the world’s highest paid athletes last year. Lionel Messi topped the list to become the world’s highest paid athlete ahead of Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo and basketball superstar LeBron James.
Forbes said its on-the-field earnings figures include all prize money, salaries and bonuses earned during the 12-month period while off-field earnings are an estimate of sponsorship deals, appearance fees and licensing income.
Lionel Messi earned $130 Million, a figure which includes $55 Million of endorsements, during the 12-month period that ended May 1, 2022, to sit at the top the list of the 10 highest-paid athletes in the world.
Last year was an interesting one for Messi. He left his childhood club Barcelona to join Paris Saint Germain. The interesting part of the Forbes report is that he has earned £45 Million in endorsement and sponsorship deals. He has taken quite an amount of sponsorships outside of football, some of which have been controversial. One of the deals was becoming an ambassador of tourism for Saudi Arabia, despite the country’s history of human right violations.
Making it to the second spot on the list was Los Angeles Lakers forward James, who earned $121 Million, breaking the $96.5 Million record earned an year for an NBA player that he set himself last year.
Third on the Forbes’ richest list is none other than Cristiano Ronaldo, the arch rival of Lionel Messi. The Manchester United striker earned $115 Million to sit third on the list. This figure includes his £385,000-a-week wages at Old Trafford as well as his other endorsements outside of football. He also turned down a $6 Million offer to work commercially with Saudi Arabia last year.
Brazil and PSG star Neymar, Messi’s PSG team-mate, is fourth on the list and one of the three footballers to appear on the list of highest earning athletes. The Brazilian earned $95 Million during the last year.
The following is the Forbes list of highest earning athletes in the world:
- Lionel Messi — $130 Million
- LeBron James — $121.2 Million
- Cristiano Ronaldo — $115 Million
- Neymar Jr — $95 Million
- Curry — $92.8 Million
- Durant — $92.1 Million
- Federer — $90.7 Million
- Canelo — $90 Million
- Brady — $83.9 Million
- Giannis — $80.9 Million