Forbes today released its annual ranking of the world’s 100 highest-paid athletes, who collectively earned $4 billion over the last 12 months, up 5% from last year’s earnings of $3.8 billion.
Lionel Messi was named the world’s highest-paid athlete for the first time, up from second place last year, with $127 million in total earnings. Messi unseats Floyd Mayweather, who held the crown last year and was the leader four times in seven years. Behind Messi is longtime rival Cristiano Ronaldo (No. 2), who earned $109 million between his salary and endorsements.
The list of elite athletes consists of players from ten different sports. NBA stars lead with 35 basketball players among the top 100, down from 40 in 2018, headed by LeBron James (No. 8 with $89 million). Football was the next most-represented sport with 19 players, followed by baseball with 15, and soccer with 12.
There are 25 different countries represented on this year’s World’s Highest-Paid Athletes list, up from 22 in 2018. Americans dominate the action with 62 athletes thanks to the sky-high salaries in the major sports leagues. The U.K. has five athletes, France and Spain have three, while Brazil, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Germany, Serbia and Venezuela all have two.
Below is the world’s top 10 highest-paid athletes in 2019:
Their 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 for the same 12-month period based on conversations with dozens of industry insiders. We do not deduct for taxes or agents’ fees, and we don’t include investment income.
Click here to see the full list of world’s 100 highest-paid athletes.