Cristiano Ronaldo has been named as the world’s highest-paid athlete in Forbes’ annual rich list after collecting an incredible £109million over the past year.
Ronaldo endured a difficult end to 2022 on the pitch after falling out of favour at Manchester United, which led to an explosive tell-all interview with Piers Morgan that brought his second stint at the club to an abrupt close.
Yet while his acrimonious Old Trafford departure was a low point, as was the lack of top European teams interested in signing him, the 38-year-old hit the jackpot when he put pen to paper on a staggering £175million-a-year contract with Saudi Arabian side Al-Nassr in January.
That lucrative switch has propelled him back to the top of Forbes’ athlete rich list for the first time since 2017 and the third time overall, with an overall income of $136million (£109million) the highest figure from a footballer in history.
An estimated $46million (£37million) of that income has come on the field – which Forbes say ‘blends together his two contracts for this season and accounts for his brief unemployment’ – while close to double the amount has come through off-field endorsements.
Cristiano Ronaldo has been named as the world’s highest-paid athlete in Forbes’ rich list
Ronaldo, who joined Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr earlier this year, raked in a staggering £109million over the past year
His long-time rival Lionel Messi (right) is second in the list after earning £104million
THE WORLD’S 10 HIGHEST-PAID ATHLETES (FORBES)
1. Cristiano Ronaldo – $136million (£109million)
2. Lionel Messi – $130million (£104million)
3. Kylian Mbappe – $120million (£96million)
4. LeBron James – $119.5million (£95million)
5. Canelo Alvarez – $110million (£88million)
6. Dustin Johnson – $107million (£86million)
7. Phil Mickelson – $106million (£85million)
8. Stephen Curry – $100.4million (£81million)
9. Roger Federer – $95.1million (£76million)
10. Kevin Durant – $89.1million (£72million)
Only three athletes in Forbes’ history have beaten his off-field total of $90million (£72million) in a year: Roger Federer, Tiger Woods and Conor McGregor.
Just behind Ronaldo in second is his long-time rival Lionel Messi, who drops a place after topping last year’s list.
The Paris Saint-Germain superstar earned a total of $130million (£104million), the same amount he generated in 2022, with his on and off-field income split exactly down the middle.
Another football star, Messi’s PSG team-mate Kylian Mbappe, follows him in third place after raking in $120million (£96million) over the past 12 months, $100million (£80million) of which came on the pitch.
Mbappe, the only member of the list under the age of 30, takes home the heftiest salary in world football at the Parc des Princes on an astonishing £63million-a-year.
The 24-year-old is the final footballer in the top 10, with basketball icon LeBron James ($119.5million/£95million) and boxing master Canelo Alvarez ($110million/£88million) coming next.
Golf star Dustin Johnson is in sixth place after banking $107million (£86million), $102million (£90million) of which came through competition, just ahead of Phil Mickelson in seventh on $106million (£85million).
Another basketball player, Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry, is the eighth highest-paid athlete on the planet right now after sweeping up $100.4million (£81million).
Kylian Mbappe follows his Paris Saint-Germain team-mate in third after earning £96million
Basketball icon LeBron James is said to have generated £95million over the past 12 months
Golf star Dustin Johnson is in sixth place on the list after banking an estimated £86million
Tennis legend Roger Federer makes it into the top 10 despite only earning £80,000 on court
Roger Federer is the only tennis star included in ninth place, despite only amassing $100,000 (£80,000) of his overall income of $95.1million (£76million) on the court.
Federer announced his retirement from professional tennis back in September, yet the Swiss legend maintains plenty of lucrative partnerships off the court and recently announced a licensing agreement for his RF brand with eyewear maker Oliver Peoples.
Completing the list is a third basketball figure in Phoenix Suns star Kevin Durant ($89.1million/£72million).
Forbes state that their on-field earnings ‘include all prize money, salaries and bonuses earned between May 1, 2022, and May 1, 2023’, while their off-field records are ‘an estimate of sponsorship deals, appearance fees and memorabilia and licensing income for the 12 months leading to May 1, 2023, plus cash returns from any businesses operated by the athlete, based on conversations with industry insiders.’