McGregor tops Forbes' highest-paid athletes list; Messi, Ronaldo follow

During the 12-month period ending May 1, 2021, Conor McGregor earned $180 million.

Conor McGregor, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi

Clockwise (from left): Conor McGregor, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.   -  Getty Images

Irish MMA fighter Conor McGregor was the world's highest-paid athlete over the last year ahead of soccer players Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, according to the annual Forbes list released on Wednesday.

During the 12-month period ending May 1, 2021, McGregor earned $180 million, a figure which includes $158 million from endorsements and the recent sale of the majority stake of his whiskey brand.

Barcelona and Argentina forward Messi was second on the list and set a record as the highest-earning soccer player after bringing home $130 million while Portugal and Juventus forward Ronaldo earned $120 million to sit third among the top 10 highest-paid athletes.

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NFL quarterback Dak Prescott ($107.5 million) of the Dallas Cowboys and four-times NBA champion LeBron James ($96.5 million) rounded out the top five.

Forbes said its on-the-field earnings figures include all prize money, salaries and bonuses earned during the 12-month period while off-the-field earnings are an estimate of sponsorship deals, appearance fees and licensing income.

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