NEW YORK – Lionel Messi was the world’s highest paid athlete over the past year, Forbes reported on Tuesday in its annual sporting rich list.
Barcelona and Argentina star Messi dethroned retired boxer Floyd Mayweather as the sports world’s highest earner, raking in $127 million (about R1.86 billion) via salary and endorsement deals.
That put Messi ahead of long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo, the Juventus and Portugal star, who was second with earnings of $109 million.
Brazil and Paris Saint-Germain striker Neymar completed a sweep of the top three positions by footballers, coming in third with earnings of $105 million.
The fourth highest earner on the list was Mexico’s middleweight boxing star Saul “Canelo” Alvarez with $94 million.
Alvarez, who defeated Gennady Golovkin last September to become the unified middleweight champion, inked the richest deal in boxing history last October, signing a five-year 11-fight contract with streaming network DAZN worth $365 million.
Evergreen tennis star Roger Federer was fifth on the list with total earnings of $93.4 million.
The bulk of Federer’s earnings came through lucrative endorsement deals, with the 20-time Grand Slam singles champion pocketing $86 million.
Stars from the NFL and NBA rounded out the top 10 on the list, with Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson sixth on $89.5 million, just ahead of Green Bay Packers signal-caller Aaron Rodgers ($89.3 million).
— Forbes (@Forbes) June 11, 2019
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James was the highest earning NBA player, with $89 million, while Golden State’s Stephen Curry was ninth with $79.8 million.
Curry’s Golden State teammate Kevin Durant was 10th on the rankings with $65.4 million.
Former world number one Tiger Woods was 11th on the list with $69.3 million, which included an estimated $54 million in endorsements.
Meanwhile, tennis superstar Serena Williams was the only woman to make the list, coming in at 63rd with earnings of $29.2 million.