Argentina and Barcelona striker Lionel Messi is the world’s highest paid athlete having banked £100.30 million in the past year.
Hot on his heels is long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who plays for Juventus in Italy and captains the Portugal national side. Ronaldo earned £85.6 million.
Third in the American financial magazine Forbes the top 100 highest earning sports stars was Brazil and Paris St Germain striker Neymar, who was paid £82.5 million.
The only woman to break into the top 100 was tennis star Serena Williams, who was paid £22.9 million.
To break into the list, the lowest paid athlete had to earn at least £19.85 million.
£3.1 billion combined earnings
“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, with 72% of that income coming from salaries rather than endorsement deals.”
The top 100 athletes compete in 10 different sports – the most stars in the list came from basketball (35), followed by American football (19), baseball (15) and soccer (12).
They represented 25 countries, with 62 from the USA, five from Britain, three each from France and Spain, while Brazil, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Germany, Serbia and Venezuela managed two.
Last year’s top earner was boxer Floyd Mayweather, who failed to make the cut with earnings from a single exhibition bout during 2018.
Combined earnings for the athletes making the top 100 were £3.1 billion – an increase of 5% from 2018.
Top 10 Highest paid athletes in the world 2018
|Rank||Athlete||Sport||Earnings/Winnings (£m)||Endorsements (£m)||Total Earnings (£m)|
|6||Russell Wilson||American Football||63.60||7.11||70.71|
|7||Aaron Rodgers||American Football||63.44||7.11||70.55|