Ronaldo tops Forbes’ list of highest-paid athletes again, Rahm second

Former Manchester United and Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo is named highest-paid athlete for a fourth time.

Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo joined Al-Nassr from Manchester United in 2023 [Stringer/Reuters]

Cristiano Ronaldo topped Forbes’ list of highest-paid athletes for the fourth time in his career while Spanish golfer Jon Rahm moved up to second following his sensational switch to Saudi-backed LIV Golf.

Ronaldo became the world’s highest-paid athlete after his move to Saudi Arabian side Al-Nassr and Forbes said the 39-year-old footballer’s estimated total earnings were in the region of $260m, an all-time high for a football player.

His on-field earnings amounted to $200m while his off-field earnings were $60m, thanks to sponsorship deals where brands make use of his 629 million Instagram followers.

Twice major winner Rahm joined LIV Golf in December in a big-money move that sent shockwaves through the sport after media reports said the current world number five would be paid at least $300m.

Apart from that guarantee, Rahm has earned $218m and joins Ronaldo as the only two athletes to earn over $200m.

Third on the list is record eight-times Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi, who made a lucrative switch to Major League Soccer side Inter Miami, helping the Argentine World Cup winner earn $135m.

The 36-year-old has earned $65m in on-field earnings but $70m off it thanks to deals with major sponsors such as Adidas and Apple.

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James is fourth at $128.2m and although the 39-year-old, the first NBA player to score 40,000 career points, is nearing the end of his career, the American is set to have one last crack at the Olympics.

Fellow NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo ($111m) of the Milwaukee Bucks rounds out the top five while France soccer captain Kylian Mbappe has dropped down to sixth ($110m).

Mbappe announced he would be leaving Paris Saint-Germain after seven years in the French capital where he became the club’s all-time leading scorer and the 25-year-old is expected to join Spanish giants Real Madrid in the close season.

Former PSG star Neymar, who also moved to the Saudi Pro League to join Al-Hilal, is seventh ($108m) despite sitting out the majority of the season with a torn ACL.

French striker Karim Benzema, who also moved to Saudi Arabia, is eighth ($106m) on the list followed by Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry ($102m).

Lamar Jackson is the only NFL player on the list in 10th place ($100.5m) thanks to the signing bonus that was negotiated in his new Baltimore Ravens contract last year.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies