Lionel Messi Claims Top Spot on Forbes’ 2019 List Of World’s 100 Highest-Paid Athletes

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Lionel Messi has been named the world’s highest-paid athlete for the first time, up from second place last year, with $127 million in total earnings. Messi unseats Floyd Mayweather, who held the crown last year, and was the leader four times in seven years.

Behind Messi is longtime rival Cristiano Ronaldo (No. 2), who earned $109 million between his salary and endorsements. Serena Williams (No. 63) returned to the ranking, after no women appeared in 2018. Cost of admission to the 2019 list is the highest ever at $25 million, up $2.1 million from the previous year. Endorsement income experienced an increase of 12.5% to $987 million this year.

The list of elite athletes consists of players from ten different sports. NBA stars lead with 35 basketball players among the top 100, down from 40 in 2018, headed by LeBron James (No. 8 with $89 million). Football was the next most-represented sport with 19 players, followed by baseball with 15, and soccer with 12.

There are 25 different countries represented on this year’s World’s Highest-Paid Athletes list, up from 22 in 2018. Americans dominate the action with 62 athletes thanks to the sky-high salaries in the major sports leagues. The U.K. has five athletes, France and Spain have three, while Brazil, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Germany, Serbia and Venezuela all have two.

The World’s Top 10 Highest-Paid Athletes in 2019

Rank  

Athlete

 

Sport

Salary/Winnings ($mil) Endorsements ($mil) Total Earnings ($mil)
1 Lionel Messi Soccer 92 35 127
2 Cristiano Ronaldo Soccer 65 44 109
3 Neymar Soccer 75 30 105
4 Canelo Alvarez Boxing 92 2 94
5 Roger Federer Tennis 7.4 86 93.4
6 Russell Wilson Football 80.5 9 89.5
7 Aaron Rodgers Football 80.3 9 89.3
8 LeBron James Basketball 36 53 89
9 Stephen Curry Basketball 37.8 42 79.8
10 Kevin Durant Basketball 30.4 35 65.4

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