Forbes has crowned Cristiano Ronaldo the wealthiest athlete in sports, surpassing his arch-rival Lionel Messi.

After a year of dominating his sports competition, the Saudi Pro League standout has been crowned the highest-paid athlete in the world for 2024.

According to Forbes, Ronaldo has set a new record for soccer players with his projected total earnings of $260 million. This puts him at the top of the list for the fourth time during his career.

These earnings include those made on and off the field.

The Portuguese signed a jaw-dropping yearly contract of $200 million with Al Nassr last year, leaving Europe. Among the many ways the 39-year-old makes money is via endorsement arrangements. This includes cryptocurrency exchange Binance and fitness app Erakulis, as well as Nike, Herbalife, Clear Haircare, and Whoop.

Athletes are raking in the Saudi cash, and CR7 is $40 million ahead of the pack. Jon Rahm, of LIV Golf, reportedly signed a $350 million guarantee when he joined the circuit. Despite earning a total of $20 million off the field, the Spanish golfer has made $198 million while playing.

With $135 million, Inter Miami’s captain Lionel Messi comes in third. His off-field endorsements and partnerships bring him more money than his on-field earnings. When it comes to off-field sponsorships, he earns more than any other soccer player on the list.

Benzema was number 8 on the list.
Benzema was number 8 on the list.

Benzema was number 8 on the list.

List includes Mbappe and Neymar

Next on the list are NBA superstars LeBron James ($128.2 million) and Giannis Antetokounmpo ($111 million). As a matter of fact, James’ off-court earnings are almost twice his on-court earnings ($48.2 million vs $80 million).

Because of it, he falls short of Stephen Curry as the highest-paid NBA player on the list. Earning $52 million when playing and $50 million while not, he is the ninth-highest earner on the list. Back in at number six, with $110 million, are Kylian Mbappe and, in seventh place, his former PSG teammate Neymar.

The latter earned $108 million from Saudi side Al Hilal. On the other hand, while Mbappe made $10 million more than him, his contract with the French giants is up this summer. It’s worth noting that Neymar earns $8 million more than the Frenchman from his endorsement agreements with Puma and Fun Brands.

Karim Benzema of Al-Ittihad rounds out the soccer players in the top 10. The majority of his $106 million comes from the $100 million in on-field compensation that comes with becoming a free agent. Another reason is him winning the previous Ballon d’Or, and going to the Middle East.

Last but not least, we have Lamar Jackson, quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens. He received an unprecedented $100.5 million, more than any other NFL player. Just like Benzema, Jackson has a healthy bank account; all thanks to the $98.5 million he made off-field.

Forbes’ highest-paid athletes of 2024

  1. Cristiano Ronaldo – $260m
  2. Jon Rahm – $218m
  3. Lionel Messi – $135m
  4. LeBron James – $128.2m
  5. Giannis Antetokounmpo – $111m
  6. Kylian Mbappe – $110m
  7. Neymar – $108m
  8. Karim Benzema – $106m
  9. Stephen Curry – $102m
  10. Lamar Jackson – $100.5m

Photo credit: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire.