Footballer Cristiano Ronaldo has overtaken retired boxer Floyd Mayweather to become the world’s highest earning athlete with $88m from wages and endorsements over the past year.
The striker topped Forbes’ annual list of top earning athletes, which was released, beating Barcelona striker Lionel Messi who earned $81.4m, and basketball player LeBron James, who earned $77.2m.
“This year I think is more reflective of what’s going on in the sports world where salaries are sky-rocketing for team sports. The minimum to make the list this year went up $2m to $20.8m. It’s the first time we’ve seen a team athlete head up the list since 1998 with Michael Jordan,” explained Forbes senior editor, Kurt Badenhausen.
The financial magazine calculated the earnings figures include all salaries, prize-winnings and bonuses earned by active athletes between June 1, 2015 and June 1, 2016.
The top 100 athletes earned a total of $3.15 billion over the last 12 months, a slight decrease from last year’s earnings of $3.2 billion, which received a boost from the historic $460m earned by boxers Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, who topped last years list.
“We’ve seen an explosion in salaries with team sports, so the top paid guys in soccer, in basketball, in the NFL they can make — with the NBA’s new television contract — we’re seeing some of these guys make $30-, $40-, and in the case of Ronaldo and Messi, more than $50 million,” said Badenhausen.
Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, with earnings of $88m ($56m salary, $32m endorsements), takes the top spot for the first time, which is also the first time for a soccer player. This is the first time since 2000 that someone besides Mayweather or Tiger Woods has held the top spot.
Ronaldo, who scored the game-winning penalty to clinch victory for Real Madrid in the Uefa Champions League final last month and the third European cup of his career, earned about $56m in salary and a further $32m in endorsements.
The Portuguese player has a sportswear sponsorship deal with Nike, which has launched a clothing range called CR7 after his initials and shirt number and has signed partnerships with watchmaker Tag Heuer and nutrition supplements group Herbalife.
He overtook Mayweather, who retired from boxing in October following an undefeated professional career of 49 bouts. Mayweather, who goes by the sobriquet “Money”, remains on the top-earning list despite only fighting once in the past year.
It is the first time since 2001 that an athlete other than Mayweather or golfer Tiger Woods has topped the list.
Woods remains 12th on the list, despite losing form since 2009 when he admitted to serial infidelities and took leave from professional golf for a short period. Mr Woods earned just $300,000 from golf winnings, but $45m from endorsement deals with companies including Nike and Titleist.
Phil Mickelson, the highest-earning golfer on the list, gained $2.9m directly from golf and about $50m from sponsorship deals.
Football club’s kit deal expected to bring in €150m a year
Tennis star Roger Federer earned more in endorsements than any other athlete, with nearly $60m, in addition to about $7.8m from tennis winnings.
Federer has numerous sponsors, including Nike, Rolex, Mercedes-Benz and Credit Suisse. These deals helped him earn $12m more than Novak Djokovic, the current world number one male tennis player, who won the French Open last week and currently holds all four of the sport’s major titles.
The 100 highest-paid athletes come from 23 countries, with a majority of them — 65 — Americans.
Amongst those is golfer Jordan Spieth ($52.8m), whose rise from 85th place last year to ninth this time makes him the biggest mover on the list after a year that includes a big-money FedEx Cup success.
Basketball stars LeBron James ($77.2m) and Kevin Durant ($56.2m) occupy third and fifth places, but baseball is the most heavily represented sport on the list, boasting 26 names.
Basketball has 18, American football 21 and soccer 12.
As in 2015, no woman made it to this year’s top 20 lists.
Top Ten List (Figures in Million $)
Cristiano Ronaldo (football) $56 (salary) $32 (winnings) $88 (endorsements)
Lionel Messi (football) $53.4 (salary) $28 (winnings) $81.4 (end.)
LeBron James (basketball) $23.2 (salary) $54 (winnings) $77.2 (end.)
Roger Federer (tennis) $7.8 (salary) $60 (winnings) $67.8 (end.)
Kevin Durant (basketball) $20.2 (salary) $36 (winnings) $56.2 (end.)
Novak Djokovic (tennis) $21.8 (salary) $34 (winnings) $55.8 (end.)
Cam Newton (football) $41.1 (salary) $12 (winnings) $53.1 (end.)
Phil Mickelson (golf) $2.9 (salary) $50 (winnings) $52.9 (end.)
Jordan Spieth (golf) $20.8 (salary) $32 (winnings) $52.8 (end.)
Kobe Bryant (basketball) $25 (salary) $25 (winnings) $50 (end.)
This article, The Money Man: With $88m in earnings, Ronaldo tops worlds highest paid athletes, first appeared on BusinessDay : News you can trust.