Every year, Forbes releases its ‘World’s Highest Paid Athletes’ list. It’s eagerly anticipated by the media as well as the public and gives us some sort of idea what the biggest sporting athletes are having to declare to the taxman each year.
The list represents the elite of the elite. The very best athletes in their respective fields. And ultimately, some of the biggest stars in the world regardless of whether they just play sports.
For the most part though, these athletes transcend industries. Often they are blessed with huge endorsement deals, which act as added bonuses on top of their “standard” salaries. Image rights deals have gone through the roof too, thanks to agents brokering significant deals for the elite sportsmen and women.
One notable exemption from the upper echelons of this year’s list is boxer Floyd Mayweather who has sat atop the list for many years. His recent retirement has meant it has opened the door for a soccer player to claim the top spot.
#1 Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid & Portugal) – $88 million
It’s been a stellar year for Cristiano Ronaldo as Portugal won the European Championship as well as winning the European Champions League with his domestic club Real Madrid.
Ronaldo earned a reported $32 million from endorsements this year, largely due to his own C7 range. He’s also signed deals with Castrol, KFC and Armani, according to Sporteology.
#2 Lionel Messi (Barcelona & Argentina) – $81.4 million
The Barca ace experienced heartache when his national team lost out to Chile in the Copa America finals. He can take solace in his earnings though as he’s moved up to the second highest earning sportsmen in Forbes’ 2016 list.
He hasn’t had the best of starts to this season though, as soccer correspondent Kevin Hatchard who contributes columns to the Betfair football tips section of the popular betting site, suggests Barcelona’s form has been impacted by Messi being out injured. He is, however, due back in the coming weeks to spearhead Barca’s attempt at regaining their La Liga title.
Aside from earning a bumper salary with Barca, Messi also represents brands including Adidas which will net the star $170 million over seven years.
#21 Neymar (Barcelona & Brazil) – $37.5 million
The enigmatic Brazilian has formed a deadly attacking lineup with Messi and Luis Suarez. It certainly hasn’t done his bank balance any harm either. He’s also in tune with technology, after being awarded the Webby Award due to his innovative online site.
Neymar has high-profile deals with Nike, Panasonic, Konami, Red Bull and Gillette, among others. He’s also the most likely to replace Ronaldo and Messi as the most popular soccer player in the world in the coming years.
#23 Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Man Utd & Sweden) – $37.4 million
A high profile move to Manchester United will have done the Swedish talisman’s finances the world of good. He’s reportedly on $400,000 a week at Old Trafford. Ibrahimovic also has his own fragrance, “Zlatan,” and has a very lucrative endorsement deal with brand A-Z.
#25 Gareth Bale (Real Madrid & Wales) – $34.9 million
Now the world’s second most expensive soccer player after Paul Pogba joined Manchester United, Bale is still earning plenty away from the soccer field. He currently has huge deals with the likes of Adidas who he is reported to have inked a six-year deal with worth around $35 million.