Cristiano Ronaldo tops Forbes’ list of highest-paid athletes, arch-rival Lionel Messi third

For the fourth time in his career, Cristiano Ronaldo has topped the Forbes list of highest paid-athletes while Spanish golfer Jon Rahm moved to the second spot following his sensational switch to Saudi-backed LIV Golf recently. Ronaldo’s arch-rival Lionel Messi is at the third position in the list whereas France superstar Kylian Mbappe dropped down to the sixth spot

Talking about the Portugal captain, Ronaldo became the world’s highest-paid athlete after his switch from Manchester United to Saudi Arabian side Al-Nassr in late 2022. Forbes claimed that the 39-year-old’s estimated total earnings were $260 million approximately, an all-time high for a soccer player. Meanwhile, the veteran’s off-field earnings were $60 million courtesy of sponsorship deals (where brands make the most of his whopping 629 million Instagram followers — Ronaldo is the most-followed individual, sportsperson, footballer on the platform).


Ronaldo’s rival Messi sits at the third spot following a lucrative switch to Major League Soccer side Inter Miami, helping the Argentine World Cup winner earn an unimaginable $135 million. The 36-year-old has earned $65 million in on-field earnings whereas he has added more off-field ($70 million) owing to deals with major sponsors such as Adidas and Apple.

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James — who is nearing retirement — comes at the fourth spot at $128.2 million. Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo ($111 million) follows James at the fifth spot whereas France football captain Mbappe is sixth ($110 million) on the list.

Former PSG star Neymar is seventh ($108 million) and French striker Karim Benzema is a close eighth ($106 million). Both the star footballers recently moved to the Saudi Arabia. Neymar is part of Al-Hilal whereas Benzema joined Al-Ittihad last year. The duo are followed by Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry ($102 million). Lamar Jackson is the only NFL player on the list at the tenth place ($100.5 million).

Thus, the top ten is filled with footballers — especially those who have made a recent switch (with many moving to the Saudi). 

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