Ronaldo leads Forbes’ latest list of highest-paid athletes

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Cristiano Ronaldo reclaims the number one position on Forbes’ annual list of highest-paid athletes, amassing a staggering income of $260 million (approximately £205 million) over the past 12 months—an increase from last year’s earnings of $136 million (around £108.7 million), thanks largely to his lucrative contract with Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr.

Spanish golfer Jon Rahm surges ahead to claim the runner-up spot, capitalising on his transition to the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Tour and earning a substantial amount of $218 million (roughly £172 million). This places him above Lionel Messi, who slips down to the third position.

Additionally, notable footballers like Neymar and Karim Benzema join the elite group within the top 10 rankings after transferring to the Saudi Professional League. Giannis Antetokounmpo, alongside other prominent basketball superstars including Lebron James and Stephen Curry, solidified their presence among the best earners globally, ranking fifth, fourth, and ninth respectively. Meanwhile, American Football sensation Lamar Jackson secures 10th place in the illustrious line-up.

As per Forbes calculations, the planet’s most successful athletes accumulated a combined pre-tax and agent fee revenue of approximately $1.38 billion (equivalent to around £1.06 billion) throughout the previous year—marking the record high for collective earnings recorded in sports history.

World’s top 10 highest paid athletes 2024

  1. Cristiano Ronaldo, football: $260m (£205m)
  2. Jon Rahm, golf: $218m (£172m)
  3. Lionel Messi, football: $135m (£107m)
  4. LeBron James, basketball: $128.2m (£101m)
  5. Giannis Antetokounmpo, basketball: $111m (£88m)
  6. Kylian Mbappe, football: $110m (£87m)
  7. Neymar, football: $108m (£85m)
  8. Karim Benzema, football: $106m (£84m)
  9. Stephen Curry, basketball: $102m (£80m)
  10. Lamar Jackson, American football: $100.5m (£79m)