Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo among highest-paid athletes in the world


Forbes magazine has released its latest ranking of the highest-paid athletes in the world, and Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are two of justthree footballers in the top 10.   

Collectively, the world's 10 best-paid athletes raked in $992 million (R16 billion) over the past 12 months, with an estimated $500 million (R8 billion) coming in the form of endorsements, appearances, memorabilia and licensing fees, along with cash returns from businesses they own or have equity stakes in. 

Scroll through the gallery above to see Forbes' 10 highest-paid athletes and their total earnings over the past 12 months

Ronaldo once again found himself in the top 10 despite his return to Manchester United not going quite to plan. The Portuguese forward's earning power comes from his 690 million followers across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, which allows him to negotiate ridiculously high rates from sponsors such as Nike, Herbalife and Clear shampoo.   

The superstar is also an investor in Tatel restaurants and the face of Zuju GP, an app that aims to be a digital football community.  

While Messi's debut season at Paris Saint-Germain has seen him fail to hit the heights he once did at Barcelona, the veteran appears to still be succeeding off the pitch in a big way.

Like Ronaldo, the Argentine remains among the highest-paid athletes on the planet, with his $20 million (R323 million)-a-year partnership with fan token platform Socios being just one of many endorsements he has. Budweiser, adidas and PepsiCo are just a few of a number of other massive brandss the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner has partnered with.

Read: Ronaldo 'putting pressure' on Utd board

Messi's teammate Neymar is the only other footballer in the top 10 with total annual earnings of $95 million (R1.5 billion).

The Brazilian has suffered a lot of criticism for his performances and lifestyle during the 2021/22 campaign. However, he was the subject of Netflix docuseries titled Neymar: The Perfect Chaos, while his endorsement deals and NFT investments help him to continue to build on the wealth he already had.   

Other sportsmen on the list include Golden State Warriors basketball star Stephen Curry and tennis legend Roger Federer – scroll through the gallery above to see Forbes' 10 highest-paid athletes in the world!  

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