Paris Saint-Germain superstar Lionel Messi topped the list for pre-tax income in Forbes annual ranking of the world’s highest-paid athletes after earning $130 million over the past 12 months.
The 34-year-old soccer icon lost roughly $22 million in salary from his final season with Barcelona, but he still makes roughly $75 million with PSG and saw a significant increase in endorsements that matched his 12-month record from last year’s study.
Messi won the Ballon d’Or in 2021 as the world’s best men’s football player but has endured a lean patch recently while playing for Paris Saint-Germain.
Next on the list was the Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, who made a total of $121 million, smashing his previous record of $96.5 million that he established last year.
The Portuguese skipper Cristiano Ronaldo, who had a total of $115 million ranked third on the list. Brazilian football player Neymar ($95 million) and three-time NBA champion Stephen Curry ($92.8 million) of the Golden State Warriors rounded out the top five.
The top 10 athletes on the list earned a total of $992m from May 2021 to May 2022 and was calculated based on their combined total of their on-field and off-field earnings. On-field earnings comprise all prize money, salary, and bonuses received over a 12-month period, and off-field income is indeed an approximation of endorsement deals, appearance fees, and licensing revenue.
Here is how the top 10 list shapes up:
Forbes’ Top 10 Highest-Paid Athletes 2022
• Lionel Messi: $130 million
• LeBron James: $121.2 million
• Cristiano Ronaldo: $115 million
• Neymar: $95 million
• Stephen Curry: $92.8 million
• Kevin Durant: $92.1 million
• Roger Federer: $90.7 million
• Canelo Alvarez: $90 million
• Tom Brady: $83.9 million
• Giannis Antetokounmpo: $80.9 million
Both Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi aren’t at the peak of their sporting powers but the brand they’ve built over the years is still unparalleled. However, the figures could go down this year or the next one if the footballing superstars’ careers continue on the downward spiral.