Cristiano Ronaldo Earns Record £218 Million, Tops List of World’s Highest-Paid Athletes with LIV Golf Rebel in Top Three

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A list of the top 100 highest-paid athletes in sport across the last year has been revealed – with Cristiano Ronaldo topping the standings. 

It will be no surprise to see the Al-Nassr forward and former Man United superstar at the top of the charts for earnings given his eye-watering £175million-a-year deal at the Saudi Arabian outfit, plus his many other lucrative sponsorships. 

According to the new list from Sportico, Ronaldo raked in £218m ($275m) – which included £47m from endorsements from the likes of Nike, Herbalife, Armani, Tag Heuer, DAZN and PokerStars, not to mention his own brand CR7.

Ronaldo was already one of the best paid athletes in the world before his move to Saudi and his staggering salary in the Middle East has maintained his spot at the top of the tree.

The Portuguese forward has been battling for supremacy with Lionel Messi for much of his career, and while he may not have won as many Ballon d’Or titles, as the Argentine, he can certainly bost to have greater wealth. 

Cristiano Ronaldo has claimed the title of highest-earning athlete in the world after a new list of the best paid sports stars was revealed

Ronaldo is earning around £175m a year at Saudi Arabian outfit Al-Nassr following his move to the Middle East in 2022

Ronaldo is earning around £175m a year at Saudi Arabian outfit Al-Nassr following his move to the Middle East in 2022

The World Cup winner, now at MLS side Inter Miami, is not even number two behind Ronaldo in the list. That spot belongs to LIV Golf rebel John Rahm. 

The Spaniard made £144m ($181m) from his earnings last year – having lifted the 2023 Masters before making the shock move to controversial Saudi-funded breakaway league LIV Golf, who are believed to have paid him around £400m.

Messi instead came in third, after a far reduced earnings than both Ronaldo and Rahm at £52m ($65m), but instead earning more in endorsements – which made him around the same amount. 

He took home a total of £100m across the last year – as he and Ronaldo made up a group of four footballers in the top ten. 

The other two were Kylian Mbappe, the PSG superstar who looks likely to join Real Madrid this summer, and Neymar, both former team-mates of Messi in Paris. 

Mbappe collected around £80m in earnings, coupled with £20m from sponsorship deals and endorsements. 

LIV Golf defector Jon Rahm - who won the Masters last year - comes in at No 2

World Cup winner Lionel Messi had to settle for third place

LIV Golf defector Jon Rahm – who won the Masters last year – comes in at No 2, ahead of World Cup winner Lionel Messi

Kylian Mbappe was among the four footballers who were included in the top ten of the list

Kylian Mbappe was among the four footballers who were included in the top ten of the list 

Neymar, on the other hand, made more from his partnerships at around £28m, but less from his overall earnings – which came in at around £68m. 

But just above both players in fourth spot was Los Angeles Lakers basketball star LeBron James, who was paid around £36m from his earnings – but his sponsorship deals are what separates him from the rest of his rivals. 

The NBA star boasts the highest money collected from endorsements of anyone in the entire list, with £64m coming from his off the court deals, taking his total collection to £99m. 

While footballers dominated the top ten, so did James’ fellow NBA players. 

Max Verstappen was the best-paid Formula One star ahead of Lewis Hamilton, taking home around £60m

Max Verstappen was the best-paid Formula One star ahead of Lewis Hamilton, taking home around £60m

Golf star Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy were also included in the list below Rahm

Golf star Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy were also included in the list below Rahm 

Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry came in at No 7 with a total of £78m across the last year, trailed by Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo (£70m) and Phoenix Suns’ Kevin Durant (£68m). 

Rounding off the top ten was Kansas City Chiefs NFL star Patrick Mahomes – who earned around £67m.

Many fans will be wondering what other sports stars made the cut in the top 100 – and which stars were the top at the their respective sports. 

The number one earner for Formula One was Max Verstappen. He made £56m from earnings and just £4m in sponsorship money, to see off rival Lewis Hamilton, who made a total of £49m. 

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah also made the list

Erling Haaland was another Premier League star included

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (L) and Erling Haaland were the other Premier League names to make the top 100

The best-paid star in the world of boxing, meanwhile, was Canelo Alvarez. The Mexican fighter is regarded as the pound-for-pound king in the sport and one of the best boxers around, and that is reflected in his earnings of £48m – plus deals out of the ring taking his total to £52m. 

Behind him in boxing was Anthony Joshua (£44m) and Tyson Fury (£32m).

The best paid tennis player was Novak Djokovic – who found himself much further down the list at number 46 – having made a total of £36m last year. 

Elsewhere, there were a handful of Premier League footballers dotted around the list of 100 athletes. 

At number 18 was Man City forward Erling Haaland, who made roughly £50m in total, while Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah clocked in at 23 with £44m.   

TOP TEN HIGHEST-PAID ATHLETES 

1 – Cristiano Ronaldo 

2- Jon Rahm 

3 – Lionel Messi 

4 – LeBron James 

5 – Kylian Mbappe 

6 – Neymar 

7 – Stephen Curry 

8 – Giannis Antetokounmpo

9 – Kevin Durant

10 – Patrick Mahomes 

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