NEW YORK, United States, Jun 11 – Lionel Messi was the world’s highest paid athlete over the past year, Forbes reported on Tuesday in its annual sporting rich list.
Barcelona and Argentina star Messi dethroned retired boxer Floyd Mayweather as the sports world’s highest earner, raking in Ksh 12.8 billion ($127 million) via salary and endorsement deals.
That put Messi ahead of long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo, the Juventus and Portugal star who was second with earnings of Ksh 11 billion ($109 million).
Brazil and Paris Saint-Germain striker Neymar completed a sweep of the top three positions by footballers, coming in third with earnings of Ksh 10.6 billion ($105 million).
The fourth highest earner on the list was Mexico’s middleweight boxing star Saul “Canelo” Alvarez with Ksh 9.5 billion ($94 million).
Alvarez, who defeated Gennady Golovkin last September to become the unified middleweight champion, inked the richest deal in boxing history last October, signing a five-year 11-fight contract with streaming network DAZN worth Ksh 36 billion ($365 million).
Evergreen tennis star Roger Federer was fifth on the list with total earnings of Ksh 3.5 billion ($93.4 million).
The bulk of Federer’s earnings came through lucrative endorsement deals, with the 20-time Grand Slam singles champion pocketing Ksh 8.7 billion ($86 million).
Stars from the NFL and NBA rounded out the top 10 on the list, with Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson sixth on Ksh 9 billion ($89.5 million), just ahead of Green Bay Packers signal-caller Aaron Rodgers ($89.3 million).
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James was the highest earning NBA player, with Ksh9 billion ($89 million), while Golden State’s Stephen Curry was ninth with $79.8 million.
Curry’s Golden State team-mate Kevin Durant was 10th on the rankings with $65.4 million.
Former world number one Tiger Woods was 11th on the list with Ksh 7 billion ($69.3 million), which included an estimated $54 million in endorsements.
Meanwhile tennis superstar Serena Williams was the only woman to make the list, coming in at 63rd with earnings of Ksh 2.9 ($29.2 million).