Real Madrid and Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo pips Barcleona's Lionel Messi to world's highest-paid athlete mantle

Joe Hall
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Make it rain: Ronaldo earns more than any other athlete according to Forbes (Source: Getty)

Ronaldo has won three Premier League titles, one La Liga championship, three Champions Leagues and three Ballon d'Or awards naming him the world's best player in a glittering career of success on the field.

Such a trophy haul leaves little doubt over his status as a player and the Real Madrid star's latest accolade provides similar confirmation of his clout off the field.

Ronaldo has been named as the world's highest paid athlete by Forbes, making him the first footballer and first athlete other than Tiger Woods or Floyd Mayweather to top sport's rich list this century.

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Forbes estimate that the winger's total earnings this year will be worth roughly £61m ($88m) thanks to a salary worth nearly £39m and endorsements worth £22m.

It is that salary that separates Ronaldo from the rest, with basketball stars LeBron James and Kevin Durant, golfers Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods and tennis kings Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic all earning more from their various off-field ventures.

The 31-year-old former Manchester United star, who is sponsored by Nike and Tag Heuer, runs his own signature brand of perfurme and underwear. His considerable brand power was demonstrated in reports that he was paid over €1m for single day's sponsorship work by a Saudi Arabian telecom company.

He has also been named the most marketable athlete on social media.

Highest paid athletes in the world - Forbes

Rank Name Sport Salary Endorsements Total
1 Cristiano Ronaldo Football $56m $32m $88m
2 Lionel Messi Football $53.4m $28m $81.4m
3 LeBron James Basketball $23.2m $54m $77.2m
4 Roger Federer Tennis $7.8m $60m $67.8m
5 Kevin Durant Basketball $20.2m $36m $56.2m
6 Novak Djokovic Tennis $21.8m $34m $55.8m
7 Cam Newton American football $41.1m $12m $53.1m
8 Phil Mickelson Golf $2.9m $50m $52.9m
9 Jordan Spieth Golf $20.8m $32m $52.8m
10 Kobe Bryant Basketball $25m $25m $50m
11 Lewis Hamilton Formula 1 $42m $4m $46m
12 Tiger Woods Golf $274,000 $45m $45.3m
13 Eli Manning American football $37m $8m $45m
14 Joe Flacco American football $44m $500,000 $44.5m
15 Tom Brady American football $36.1m $8m $44.1m
16 Floyd Mayweather Boxing $32m $12m $36m
17 Rory McIlroy Golf $7.6m $35m $42.6m
18 Russell Wilson American football $31.8m $10m $41.8m
19 Sebastian Vettel Formula 1 $40m $1m $41m
20 Philip Rivers American football $37.5m $450,000 $38m

Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton and Northern Ireland golfer Rory McIlroy were the only two British athletes named in Forbes' top 20.

Footballers Gareth Bale and Wayne Rooney followed with earnings of £25m and £18m respectively.

Highest paid British athletes - Forbes

World rank Name Sport Salary Endorsements Total
11 Lewis Hamilton Formula 1 $42m $4m $46m
17 Rory McIlroy Golf $7.6m $35m $42.6m
25 Gareth Bale Football $24.9m $11m $35.9m
49 Wayne Rooney Football $20.1m $6m $26.1m
74 Andy Murray Tennis $8m $15m $23m

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