Lionel Messi edged out rival Cristiano Ronaldo in becoming the world’s highest paid athlete after earning $127m (Rs 8.8 billion) in the last one year according to Forbes’ list of top 100 athlete earners. This is the first time Messi topped the list beating last year’s highest earner boxer Floyd Mayweather. Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli is the sole Indian in the list.
Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo came second $109m (Rs 7.56 billion), while Brazilian Neymar came third with a $105m (Rs 7.28b) earning in the list dominated by footballers and basketball players. It is also the first time footballers have been ranked as the top three earners among athletes.
Mayweather, who topped the last year’s charts with earnings of $285m (Rs 19.78b), dropped down to 10th rank in the list. The American boxer has fought a single boxing bout since August 2017 which was an exhibition match against kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa of Japan in December.
Meanwhile, Kohli, who was ranked 84 in the Forbes list last year dropped 16 places down to be placed in the 100th position. He also is the only Indian athlete in the list.
Tennis great Serena Williams represented the women’s category in the top 100 list. The 23-time Grand Slam champion with an earning of $29.2m is the only women in the Forbes list. She was ranked 63rd and was a new entry in the list, which had no women last year. Among other notable inclusion in the top 100 athletes list were, Tennis star Roger Federer (5), American basketball player LeBron James (8), golfer Tigers Woods and Rory McIlroy and French Open champion Rafael Nadal.
Messi, who became the second footballer after Ronaldo and eighth different athlete to top the Forbes rankings had estimated earnings of $127m, of which $92m came from salary and winnings and an additional $35m from endorsements. Ronaldo had $65m from salaries and $44m from endorsements. Manchester United footballer Paul Pogba with earnings of$33m (Rs 2.29b) was the highest earning Premier League player.
Top 10 List:
1. Lionel Messi $127m (£99.8m)
2. Cristiano Ronaldo $109m (£85.6m)
3. Neymar $105m (£82.5m)
4. Canelo Alvarez $94m (£73.8m)
5. Roger Federer $93.4m (£73.3)
6. Russell Wilson $89.5m (£70.3m)
7. Aaron Rodgers $89.3m £70.1m)
8. LeBron James $89m (£69.9m)
9. Stephen Curry $79.8m (£62.7m)
10. Kevin Durant $65.4m (£51.3m)