Ronaldo inherits richest athlete throne from Woods, Mayweather

The annual list of total revenues for top sports stars had been topped 12 times by Woods and in three of the last four by Mayweather, who retired unbeaten last year.

Ronaldo topped the list at USD 88 million (77.2 million euros) with USD 56 million in salary and USD 32 million more from endorsement deals. Messi was next at USD 81.4 million, with USD 28 million of that from sponsorships.   -  AP

Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona striker Lionel Messi topped the Forbes magazine list of the world’s highest-paid athletes on Wednesday in the wake of boxer Floyd Mayweather’s retirement and back surgery for golfer Tiger Woods.

The annual list of total revenues for top sports stars had been topped 12 times by Woods and in three of the last four by Mayweather, who retired unbeaten last year.

Forbes' top-5 highest-paid athletes





This year, 31-year-old Portugal forward Ronaldo topped the list at USD 88 million (77.2 million euros) with USD 56 million in salary and USD 32 million more from endorsement deals.

The three-time FIFA player of the year is a marketing juggernaut with a new Nike deal worth USD 13 million annually plus endorsement partners such as Tag Heuer and Herbalife plus his own lines of suits, cologne, shirts, shoes, underwear and hotels.

Messi, who sat out Argentina’s opening victory at the Copa America Centenario this week, was next at USD 81.4 million, with USD 28 million of that from sponsorships.

LeBron James, who leads the Cleveland Cavaliers against defending champion Golden State in the ongoing NBA Finals, was third on the list and tops among Americans with USD 77.2 million. He has endorsement deals of USD 54 million, including a lifetime pact with Nike that could pay off to the tune of USD 1 billion, and USD 23.2 million in club salary.

James made his movie debut in “Trainwreck” last year and is set to star in the sequel to the 1996 Michael Jordan film “Space Jam” as well as take a huge salary boost next year when the NBA’s new USD 24 billion television deal starts.

Golden State’s Stephen Curry, the NBA Most Valuable Player and scoring champion, shared 69th on USD 23.6 million with world number one golfer Jason Day of Australia.

Roger Federer, the Swiss tennis star with a record 17 men’s Grand Slam singles titles, was fourth on USD 67.8 million. He set the pace in sponsor income at USD 60 million.

Top 100 make USD 3.15 billion

Television rights fee hikes helped fuel team sport stars, boosting the top-100 cut-off to USD 20.8 million, USD 2 million more than last year. The study time frame runs for the 12 months ending one week ago.

The top 100 include 65 Americans and athletes from 22 other nations encompassing 10 sports, with the most from baseball at 26. Together the top 100 took home a combined USD 3.15 billion, 29 percent of it from endorsements and appearances.

The 2015 leaders, Mayweather and Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao, both sank with the end of their ring careers. Mayweather dipped to 16th with $44 million in earnings while Pacquiao was 63rd at USD 24 million.

World number one Serena Williams, runner-up at this year’s French and Australian Opens, was the highest earning woman at USD 28.9 million, 40th overall, with doping-banned Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova 88th on USD 21.9 million.

Sixth overall on the list was Serbian Novak Djokovic, who cracked the top 10 for the first time at USD 55.8 million, with USD 34 million in endorsements. Djokovic won the French Open last Sunday to claim his fourth consecutive men’s Grand Slam singles title and complete a career Grand Slam.

Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers star who retired after this past season, was 10th on USD 50 million, evenly split between salary and sponsorships.

British Formula One racer Lewis Hamilton was 11th on USD 46 million, only USD 4 million from endorsements.

Former world number one Woods, a 14-time major golf champion, was 12th on USD 45.3 million, all but about USD 274,000 of it from sponsorship deals.

Northern Ireland golfer Rory McIlroy was 17th at USD 42.6 million, Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal and Brazilian footballer Neymar shared 21st at USD 37.5 million.

Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, who seeks more Olympic athletics sprint gold in two months at Rio, was 32nd at USD 32.5 million.

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