Argentine and Barcelona soccer star Lionel Messi topped the Forbes list for the first time–only the second soccer player to do so.
Barcelona and Argentina forward Lionel Messi is the world’s highest paid athlete, earning $127m in the past 12 months, according to the Forbes top 100 ranking.
Widely considered the best soccer player in the world, Messi has scored 603 goals in 687 games for his club team Barcelona.
His arch rival, Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo, who plays for Italian club Juventus, placed second with $109m in earnings while Paris St-Germain’s Brazil forward Neymar made it an all-soccer top three for the first time with $105m.
Last year’s highest earner, boxer Floyd Mayweather, dropped off the list while tennis star Serena Williams is the only woman in the top 100, earning $29.2m.
Forbes calculated the athletes’ earnings by adding up their prize money, salaries, and endorsements between June 2018 and June 2019.
The top 100 featured athletes from 25 countries and their $4bn combined earnings are up 5% from the previous year, when Mayweather was first with $285m.
The boxer’s only fight since August 2017 was an exhibition bout against Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa in December.
Athletes had to earn a minimum of $25m to make this year’s list. Messi is only the second soccer player to top the rankings after Ronaldo, and only the eighth different athlete to take the number one spot since the rankings began in 1990.
There were 38 non-American athletes and 62 US stars in the top 100. The NBA accounted for the highest number of athletes from a single league with 35, headed by the LA Lakers’ LeBron James ($89m), Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry ($79.8m), and Kevin Durant ($65.4m).
- Lionel Messi $127m
- Cristiano Ronaldo $109m
- Neymar $105m
- Canelo Alvarez $94m
- Roger Federer $93.4m
- Russell Wilson $89.5m
- Aaron Rodgers $89.3m
- LeBron James $89m
- Stephen Curry $79.8m
- Kevin Durant $65.4m
See the full list here.