Messi is sports world's highest earner: Forbes

accreditation
Lionel Messi (AP)
Lionel Messi (AP)

New York - Lionel Messi was the world's highest paid athlete over the past year, Forbes reported on Tuesday in its annual sporting rich list.

Barcelona and Argentina star Messi dethroned retired boxer Floyd Mayweather as the sports world's highest earner, raking in $127 million via salary and endorsement deals.

That put Messi ahead of long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo, the Juventus and Portugal star who was second with earnings of $109 million.

Brazil and Paris Saint-Germain striker Neymar completed a sweep of the top three positions by footballers, coming in third with earnings of $105 million.

The fourth highest earner on the list was Mexico's middleweight boxing star Saul "Canelo" Alvarez with $94 million.

Alvarez, who defeated Gennady Golovkin last September to become the unified middleweight champion, inked the richest deal in boxing history last October, signing a five-year 11-fight contract with streaming network DAZN worth $365 million.

Evergreen tennis star Roger Federer was fifth on the list with total earnings of $93.4 million.

The bulk of Federer's earnings came through lucrative endorsement deals, with the 20-time Grand Slam singles champion pocketing $86 million.

Stars from the NFL and NBA rounded out the top 10 on the list, with Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson sixth on $89.5 million, just ahead of Green Bay Packers signal-caller Aaron Rodgers ($89.3 million).

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James was the highest earning NBA player, with $89 million, while Golden State's Stephen Curry was ninth with $79.8 million.

Curry's Golden State team-mate Kevin Durant was 10th on the rankings with $65.4 million.

Former world number one Tiger Woods was 11th on the list with $69.3 million, which included an estimated $54 million in endorsements.

Meanwhile tennis superstar Serena Williams was the only woman to make the list, coming in at 63rd with earnings of $29.2 million.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Having lost the first Test against the British & Irish Lions, can the Springboks recover to win the series?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, they will win the series 2-1. Go Bokke!
53% - 3011 votes
The Boks will win a Test, but will lose the series 2-1.
29% - 1636 votes
It's not looking good. A 3-0 whitewash is on the cards.
18% - 1053 votes
Vote