Cristiano Ronaldo earns more than Lionel Messi? Exploring the list of world’s highest-paid athletes

Forbes recently released its annual list of the world’s highest paid-athletes, ranking athletes from all sports on the basis of their last year’s income. The latest list was released yesterday, with football players claiming the top spots, and also includes celebrated basketballers, golfers, and tennis players. 

Forbes formulates the list by including the on-field, as well as off-field income of the athletes. The on-field earnings include the player’s wages, bonuses, and prize money whereas the off-field payments include sponsorships & brand deals, appearance fees, and other licensing rights of the athlete. 

The list includes Tom Brady, Serena Williams, and Roger Federer even after their retirement from American Football and Tennis respectively. The top 10 also includes legendary basketball players LeBron James, Steph Curry, and Kevin Durant, each a global phenom in their own right. Popular golfers Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson along with famous boxer Canelo Alvarez complete the top-10 rankings.  

Cristiano Ronaldo tops Lionel Messi as world’s highest-paid athletes

Cristiano Ronaldo is at the top of the list, with an accumulated income of $136 million. A significant chunk of his earnings is owing to his multi-million dollar contract with Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr ratcheting up his annual salary to $75 million. Cristiano Ronaldo’s 850 million+ followers on social media platforms entice brands from all continents to hire Ronaldo for their brand sponsorships. Binance, a cryptocurrency exchange, has hired Ronaldo for $90 million amongst other brand deals which also include Nike, Armani, and Tag Heuer amongst others. 

Guinness World Record also tweeted to announce that Cristiano Ronaldo now holds the record for the highest-paying athlete. The Portuguese striker has topped this list for the first time since 2017 and is the third time overall that the five times Ballon d’Or winner has topped the list.

Looking at the list of world’s Top 3 highest-paid athletes

Following Cristiano Ronaldo, the list includes Argentine mercurial forward Lionel Messi and French sensation Kylian Mbappe to complete the Top-3 in the 2023 list. According to the list, Lionel Messi earned a tad less than CR7, with his past year’s income rounding up to $130 million. Kylian Mbappe, is one of the youngest athletes present on the list, with the 24-year-old PSG striker earning a total of $120 million. 

Mbappe, Messi and Ronaldo

Lionel Messi has recently completed his switch to MLS side Inter Miami, but his previous year’s earnings accrued out of his PSG contract. During his last season in the French capital, Messi made $65 million from his on-field income and an equal amount off-field. The Argentine legend gained more traction after winning the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Messi is rumored to add an endorsement deal from Apple after his move to the USA, to boost his already impressive portfolio including Adidas, PepsiCo, Budweiser, etc.

Kylian Mbappe has just begun to reach the peak of his powers, with this year’s list being his first entry in the top-10 power circle. The majority of Mbappe’s income is from his on-field income, which could change in the following year. Mbappe is unwilling to sign a contract extension with PSG and is rumored to leave the club until he extends his current contract. Mbappe is contracted to Sorare, a cryptocurrency exchange, alongside being Nike’s main man in certain commercials.  

With football being at the pinnacle of sporting income, will we witness a change in the next edition of the rankings? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section.



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