Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo feature in Forbes Sporting rich list

According to the annual Forbes list released on Wednesday, Lionel Messi was the world’s highest-paid athlete in the previous year, surpassing NBA star LeBron James  and Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United.

Messi earned $130 million (£107 million) in the 12-month period ending May 1, 2022, including $55 million (£45 million) in endorsements, to place first among the top ten highest-paid sportsmen a year after finishing second to Irish MMA fighter Conor McGregor.

McGregor has dropped out of the top 10 and hasn’t fought since losing to Dustin Poirier last summer, in which he damaged his leg, and his earnings have suffered as a result. Last year, he was estimated to have made £127 million.

Another notable exclusion is Sir Lewis Hamilton. He was eighth on the list last year with £58 million, down nearly half from 2020, and he doesn’t even reach the top ten this year.

Meanwhile, Messi moved to Paris Sain-Germain from his boyhood club Barcelona last summer.

According to the Forbes report, he has received £45 million in endorsement fees. Outside of sport, he has taken on a variety of sponsorships, some of which have been contentious.

He was photographed immediately after landing in Saudi Arabia as a tourist ambassador this week, despite relatives of Saudi prisoners of conscience begging him earlier this year not to engage in any relationships with the country.

Los Angeles Lakers Lebron James, is second on the list with a total $121 million (£99 million), breaking his own record of $96.5 million (£79 million) set previous year, while Ronaldo is third with $115 million (£94 million).

Last summer, the Portugal captain completed an emotional comeback to United following three seasons with Italian giants Juventus. Last year, he also turned down a $6 million deal to collaborate commercially with Saudi Arabia.

If he stays at United, his weekly wage of £385,000 will decrease next season. The Red Devils have failed to qualify for the lucrative Champions League next season, which means Ronaldo will earn £288,000 a week if he stays at United for the 2022-23 season, according to Sportsmail.

The other stars in the top five were Brazil’s and PSG’s Neymar ($95 million – £78 million) and Golden State Warriors’ three-time NBA champion Stephen Curry ($92.8 million – £76 million).

Kevin Durant  ($92 million – £74.8 million) finished sixth, while Roger Federer  was seventh with total earnings of $90.7 million (£74.4 million). Federer played five events in 2021 before a knee procedure cut short his season.

There had been speculation that Federer’s knee problems will force him to retire at the age of 40.

While he has yet to play in 2022, he just posted photos from the gym to his Instagram account with the remark “rehab is rockingggg.”

Mexican boxer Canelo Alvarez ($90 million – £73.7 million), seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady ($83.9 million – £68.7 million), and 2017 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo ($80.9 million – £66.3 million) rounded out the final three on the list.

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