Cristiano Ronaldo reigns supreme on Forbes’ highest-paid athletes list

Cristiano Ronaldo's reign is fueled by a record-shattering $260 million earned over the past year.

The legendary football player, Cristiano Ronaldo reclaimed the throne, topping Forbes‘ annual list of the world’s highest-paid athletes for the fourth time.

This reign is fueled by a record-shattering $260 million earned over the past year.

Ronaldo’s dominance stems from two key sources: his hefty salary at the Saudi Arabian club, Al-Nassr FC, and a staggering $60 million haul from endorsements. His immense social media presence, boasting over 629 million followers on Instagram alone, makes him a highly sought-after brand endorser.

This achievement is particularly remarkable considering Ronaldo’s age of 39. It underscores his enduring marketability and global influence, which extends beyond the football pitch. Recently, he leveraged his star power by becoming an investor and brand ambassador for the fitness tracker company Whoop. His decorated brand endorsement portfolio consists of Nike, TAG Heuer, Herbalife, and Binance. Additionally, Ronaldo made investments in Chrono24 and the Ultimate Football League.

The rest of the top ten reads like a who’s who of the sporting world. Spanish golfer Jon Rahm, a recent defector to the lucrative Saudi-backed LIV Golf tour, takes the runner-up spot. Lionel Messi, Ronaldo’s long-time rival, follows closely behind at number three with $135 million. Basketball superstars LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo round out the top five.

The growing influence of the Saudi Pro League (SPL) is evident, with three players making the top ten. France’s Kylian Mbappe falls to sixth with $110 million, and the former Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) teammate Neymar, who also made the move to Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal, comes in seventh at $108 million. The French striker Karim Benzema completes the Saudi trio at number eight with $106 million.

Rounding out the list are the Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, at $102 million and the lone National Football League (NFL) representative, Baltimore Ravens quarterback, Lamar Jackson, at $100.5 million thanks to a hefty signing bonus.

Significantly, this year marks a new milestone: all ten top-ranked athletes surpassed the $100 million mark in earnings for the first time. Collectively, they generated a record-breaking $1.38 billion. This trend underscores the ever-increasing commercial value of elite athletes across various sports.

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