Cristiano Ronaldo Tops Forbes’ List of Highest-Paid Athletes for 2024

Al Nassr’s Cristiano Ronaldo kicks the ball during Riyadh Season Cup 2024 final match against Al Hilal at Kingdom Arena Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. (AP Photo)
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Cristiano Ronaldo has secured the top spot on Forbes’ list of the highest-paid athletes for the fourth time in his career.

The Portuguese star’s recent move to Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr significantly boosted his earnings, making him the highest-paid athlete globally with estimated total earnings of around $260 million—a record for a soccer player.

Ronaldo’s on-field earnings reached $200 million, while his off-field earnings were $60 million, largely due to lucrative sponsorship deals leveraging his 629 million Instagram followers.

Spanish golfer Jon Rahm surged to second place on the list following his high-profile switch to the Saudi-backed LIV Golf. Rahm, a two-time major winner, joined LIV Golf in December, with reports indicating that he would receive at least $300 million. In total, Rahm has earned $218 million, placing him alongside Ronaldo as one of only two athletes to surpass $200 million in earnings this year.

Lionel Messi, an eight-time Ballon d’Or winner, took the third spot. His move to Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami helped the Argentine World Cup winner accumulate $135 million. Messi’s on-field earnings were $65 million, supplemented by $70 million in off-field earnings from major sponsors like Adidas and Apple.

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James ranked fourth with earnings of $128.2 million. The 39-year-old NBA star, who recently became the first player to score 40,000 career points, is preparing for what might be his last Olympics.

Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo rounded out the top five with $111 million in earnings. France’s soccer captain Kylian Mbappe dropped to sixth place with $110 million. Mbappe announced his departure from Paris Saint-Germain after seven years, where he became the club’s all-time leading scorer. The 25-year-old is expected to join Real Madrid in the upcoming transfer window.

Former PSG star Neymar, now with Al-Hilal in the Saudi Pro League, ranked seventh with $108 million despite missing most of the season due to a torn ACL. French striker Karim Benzema, who also moved to Saudi Arabia, placed eighth with $106 million.

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry secured the ninth spot with $102 million, while Lamar Jackson, the only NFL player in the top ten, earned $100.5 million, thanks to a signing bonus from his new contract with the Baltimore Ravens. – Reuters