Cristiano Ronaldo Overtakes Lionel Messi as World’s Highest-Paid Soccer Player
Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo overtook Lionel Messi as the world’s highest-paid soccer player after pocketing $80 million in salary and endorsements over the past 12 months.
Messi, who had held the crown for the previous nine years, drops to No. 2 with earnings of $64 million. Barcelona teammate Neymar is third with earnings of $58 million — including $28 million off the pitch from his myriad endorsement partners that include Nike , Gillette , Panasonic and Beats by Dre . Together, the three soccer icons earned a combined $186 million in salary and endorsements in what Forbes considers to be ‘the golden era’ of professional sports.
The 100 highest earners pulled in a record $3 billion during our June 2016 to June 2017 scoring period, up 19% from last year. The previous record was $2.6 billion in the 12 months ending June 2015.
Boxer Floyd Mayweather ($275 million) is the biggest athlete earner of the past 12 months, thanks to his paydays for fight purses totaling $275 million for his match against UFC star Conor McGregor and a lucrative Nike deal that kicked into gear in late 2016. McGregor ranks second with earnings of $99 million — a combination of his fight money and income from sponsors including FanDuel , Monster Energy and Burger King .
The World’s Highest-Paid Soccer Player: Cristiano Ronaldo
The 32-year old Ronaldo is the sport’s most aggressive with his social media and marketing, boasting 199 million followers across Facebook , Twitter and Instagram . He earns $50 million off the pitch from sponsors such as Nike, Tag Heuer , Herbalife and others. The three-time Ballon d’Or winner ranks second among active athletes globally in sponsorship appeal behind tennis star Roger Federer , according to Hookit, which tracks sponsorship value in social and digital media.
Despite being one of the biggest names in sports and on one of the world’s highest-valued teams (Real Madrid is worth $3.58 billion), Ronaldo has not signed a single global endorsement deal since 2014. His last was lifetime pact with Nike that he signed in October 2013.
His most notable off the pitch endorsement deal the past year was a pact with Egyptian Steel , doing business as Arab Company for Iron and Steel Industries, to become the club’s shirt sponsor. That one-year deal is worth $4 million, according to Sporting Intelligence.
Neymar has endorsements that total $28 million, including deals with Nike, Gillette, Panasonic and Beats by Dre
The 100 highest earners pulled in a record $3 billion during our June 2016 to June 2017 scoring period
Messi registers off the pitch income of $28 million from sponsors such as Adidas , Gatorade , Huawei Technologies , PepsiCo and Turkish Airlines . His lifetime Nike contract, signed before his 30th birthday, is worth upward of $1 billion.
Boxer Floyd Mayweather leads the way with earnings of $275 million
Mayweather earns $275 million for his paychecks on fight nights and another $25 million in endorsements that include Hublot , FanDuel , Burger King and Tequila Avion . He retired undefeated as a boxer, but has lost two exhibition fights to Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa this year under the Rizin Fighting Federation banner. Forbes estimates he earned upwards of $700 million during his boxing career. Over half of Mayweather’s total income last year came from those two bouts against Nasukawa.
McGregor ranks third with earnings of $99 million — a combination of his fight money and income from sponsors
Lionel Messi isn’t world’s highest paid soccer player anymore,
Messi ranks third among active athletes globally in sponsorship appeal behind tennis stars Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal , according to Hookit. He has been the top earner from endorsements for nine straight years thanks to a lifetime deal with Adidas worth upward of $1 billion and various other sponsors, including Gatorade and Turkish Airlines .