With $127M Income, Soccer Star Leo Messi Nets Crown As World’s Highest Paid Athlete
Wednesday, June 12, 2019 at 09:57AM
NYSportsJournalism.com in Finances, Forbes, Highest Paid Athletes, Leo Messi, finances, sports marketing

By Barry Janoff

June 11, 2019: On the soccer pitch, only goalies can use their hands.

But in the world of financial pitches, soccer players are definitely hands-on.

On the 2019 list of the "World’s Highest Paid Athletes," soccer players take the top three spots, with Leo Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar Jr. having earned a collective $311 million in combined salaries and endorsements, according to a new report from Forbes.

Overall, the world’s 100 highest-paid athletes collectively earned $4 billion over the last 12 months, up 5% from last year’s earnings of $3.8 billion.

Messi was named the world’s highest-paid athlete for the first time, moving up from second place last year, with $127 million in total earnings ($92 million salary, $35 million endorsements).

Boxer Floyd Mayweather was No. 1 last year, a spot he earned four times in the past seven years.

Ronaldo (pictured below) at No. 2 earned $109 million between his salary ($65 million) and endorsements ($44 million).

At No. 3, Neymar earned $75 million in salary and $30 million in endorsements for a $105 million total).

Of the Top 100, 99 are men, a major disparity in the world of pro sports.

Tennis star Serena Williams returned to the list at No. 63 after no women appeared in 2018 (when she took time off after giving birth to her daughter), with $4.2 million in winnings and $25 million in endorsements for $29.2 million total.

According to Forbes, “The cost of admission to the 2019 list is the highest ever at $25 million, up $2.1 million from the previous year. Endorsement income experienced an increase of 12.5% to $987 million this year.”

The list of athletes includes players from ten different sports. The NBA leads with 35 (down from 40 in 2018), followed by the NFL (19), MLB (15) and soccer (12).

No players from the NHL are on the list.

Tiger Woods at No. 11 is the top golfer on the list ($9.9 million salary/winnings, $54 million endorsements, $63.9 million total), Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angeles the top MLB player at No. 17 ($47.6 million salary, $3 million endorsements, $50.6 million total).

Conor McGregor at No. 22 leads MMA and boxing athletes ($32 million salary/winnings, $15 million endorsements, $47 million total).

The Top Ten also includes:

4. Boxer Canelo Alvarez, who signed a multi-year deal with DAZN ($92 million salary/winnings, $2 million endorsements, $94 million total)

5. Tennis star Roger Federer ($7.4 million salary.winnings, $86 million endorsements, $93,4 million total)

6. NFL  Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson ($80.5 million salary, $9 million endorsements, $89.5 million total)

7. NFL Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers ($80.3 million salary, $9 million endorsements, $89.3 million total);

8. NBA Los Angles Lakers star LeBron James ($36 million salary, $53 million endorsements, $89 million total)

9. NBA Golden State Warriors Stephen Curry ($37.8 million salary, $42 million endorsements, $79.8 million total)

10. NBA Golden State Warriors teammate Kevin Durant ($30.4 million salary, $35 million endorsements, $65.4 million total).

Forbes said that earnings include prize money, salaries and bonuses earned between June 1, 2018 and June 1, 2019. Endorsement incomes are an estimate of sponsorships, appearance fees and licensing incomes

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