Ronaldo makes staggering ₦400b as he beats Messi to World’s highest-paid athlete

Al Nassr star Cristiano Ronaldo leads Lionel Messi in the newly released list of highest-paid athletes in the world.

Every year, Forbes releases its list of the highest-paid athletes, and this year’s top 10 list makes history.

The sports industry is experiencing an unprecedented financial boom in terms of salaries and sponsorship deals, and athletes stand to gain greatly from this.

Cristiano Ronaldo has experienced significant changes in the eight years since he initially rose to the position of highest-paid athlete in the world.

List of World’s highest-paid athlete

According to reports from Forbes, as reported by Daily Mail, here are the list of the World’s highest-paid athletes ranking from number 10 to number 1.

Forbes list of World's highest-paid athletes -- X

10. Lamar Jackson

NFL player Lamar Jackson, who signed a new contract with the Baltimore Ravens last year comes in tenth position on the list.

His on-field earning is $98.5 million while is off-field earning is $2 million and his total earnings amount to £79 million ($100.5 million).

NFL player Lamar Jackson -- Imago

9. Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry, who plays for the Golden State Warriors is one of the best shooters in basketball history and comes in at number nine on the list.

The point guard makes £81 million ($102 million). He makes somewhat more than $52 million from his on-court achievements, with the remainder coming from off-court agreements like his sponsorship with Under Armour amounting to $50 million.

Stephen Curry plays for the Golden State Warriors -- Imago

8. Karim Benzema

Coming eighth on the list is Karim Benzema who plays for Al-Ittihad. He has a total earning of £84 million ($106 million)

The French striker’s income is easily discernible, with his transfer to Al-Ittihad in Saudi Arabia last year being the main contributor.

The 36-year-old’s on-field earnings amount to $100 million and his off-field earnings amount to $6 million.

Karim Benzema of Al Ittihad - Imago

7. Neymar Jr

In the seventh position comes Al Hilal star Neymar with a total earnings of ($108 million). The Brazilian has an on-field earnings of $80 million and an off-field earnings of $28 million.

The remainder comes from endorsement agreements, such as his personal football boot launch with Puma.

Neymar of Al Hilal -- Imago

6. Kylian Mbappe

In sixth place is Kylian Mbappe with a staggering ($110m). This summer, the 25-year-old will depart Paris Saint-Germain, but not before earning an incredible $90 million on-field earnings and $20 million off-field earnings.

Mbappe, who is signed to contracts with Hublot, Oakley, and Nike, is expected to sign with Real Madrid this summer.

Mbappe PSG all-time scorer - Imago

5. Giannis Antetokounmpo

NBA champion Giannis Antetokounmpo comes in fifth place with a total earning of $111 million. The star player for the Milwaukee Bucks makes $46 million as his on-field earnings and $65 million coming from sources other than basketball.

The ‘Greek Freak’ established a production firm in January, and later this year, he will release his sixth signature shoe with Nike.

Giannis Antetokounmpo plays for Milwaukee Bucks -- Imago

4. LeBron James

LeBron James, a four-time NBA champion comes fourth place on the Forbes list with a total earnings of ($128.2m).

The four-time NBA champion made $48.2 million in 2024 while playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, but the majority of his money is made in other sources outside basketball which amounts to $80 million.

In addition to his Nike endorsements, James increased his portfolio in January by signing a contract with DraftKings and making an investment in PGA Tour Enterprises.

LeBron James, a four-time NBA champion -- Imago

3. Lionel Messi

Third on the list with ($135 million) in earnings is Lionel Messi. His move to Inter Miami of the Major League Soccer last year brought attention to the team, increasing opportunities and commercial money.

The eight times Balon d’Or winner has a total of $65 million on-field earnings and a total of $70 million off-field earnings

According to sources, the Argentina captain is set to release his own sports drink this summer in collaboration with White Claw Hard Seltzer’s manufacturer, in addition to Adidas, Apple, and Konami.

Inter Miami star Lionel Messi - Imago

2. Jon Rahm

Jon Rahm, a Spanish professional golfer who rose from 28th rank to second on the list a year ago, comes second on the list with ($218 million).

Rahm joined the Saudi-backed organisation LIV Golf in December and has made $198 million in on-field earnings and $20 million in off-field earnings.

According to Forbes, he has already made £5.2 million ($6.6 million) from seven events in 2024. As of Monday, he is ranked sixth on the PGA Tour’s official money list.

Jon Rahm, a Spanish professional golfer -- Imago

1. Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo tops the Forbes list of the world’s highest-paid athletes. The 39-year-old made $260 million this year, which enabled him to top Forbes’ list for the fourth time in his professional life.

The Portuguese superstar earns an incredible $200 million on-field earnings while playing for Al-Nassr and $60 million off-field earnings.

Al Nassr star Cristiano Ronaldo -- X

The Balon d’Or winner also has deals with Nike and Herbalife. He also signed a new deal with Whoop as their global ambassador on Monday.

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