World’s highest paid athletes rake in over $3billion – with Ronaldo in top spot

The world's 50 highest paid sports stars have raked in a staggering $3.4billion (£2.75bn) over the past 12 months, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi leading the way.

According to Forbes, the sum marks a 16% jump from the total amount earned by the 50 highest paid stars in 2022, which was itself a record.

Ronaldo alone pulled in an eye-popping $136m (£110m), the majority of which ($90m) came from off-field earnings following his mega-lucrative move to Saudi Arabian side Al-Nassr in December – though Messi isn't far behind.

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The Argentinian pocketed $130m (£105m) altogether, though unlike Ronaldo the total was evenly split between on and off-field earnings following his country's World Cup triumph and his success with PSG.

Kylian Mbappe was the next highest earner after banking $120m (£97m) for the year, ensuring a footballing one, two, three, though the majority of the top 50 are US-based athletes, with 15 basketballers and 10 American footballers making the list.

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Neymar ($85m/£69m), Mo Salah ($53m/£43m) and Erling Haaland ($52m/£42m), the youngest person on the list, were the only other footballers to make the cut, though they were pipped to a top 10 spot by the likes of LeBron James ($119m/£96m), Phil Mickelson ($106m/£86m) and Roger Federer ($95m/£77m) – who collected less than 1% of his total through off-field earnings given that he retired mid-way through last year.

Rory McIlroy ($81m/£65m), Anthony Joshua ($53m/£43m) and Lewis Hamilton ($65m/£52m) were the only Brits in the top 50 while Serena Williams ($43m/£35m) was the only woman.

Williams is also one of three since retired athletes to make the list, along with the Federer and NFL legend Tom Brady.

The cut off for this year's list was higher than ever at $45m (£36m), demolishing 2022's $37m (£30m) and more than doubling the cut off figure a decade ago ($22m/£18m).

33 of the 50 athletes are from the US, with the UK (3) and Spain (2) being the only other nations to have more than one representative. Meanwhile, 17 of this year's 50 are newcomers to the list, including Haaland and seven LIV golfers.

Eight of the stars (Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe, LeBron James, Canelo Alvarez, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Stephen Curry) pocketed over $100m, doubling the previous record of four.

Check out the list in full here.


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