Forbes’ highest-paid athletes list includes eight topping $100 million
Eight athletes made at least $100 million in total earnings over the past 12 months – twice as many as any other year, according to the latest Forbes list released Wednesday.
International soccer stars Cristiano Ronaldo ($136 million), Lionel Messi ($130 million) and Kylian Mbappe ($120 million) are the top three highest-paid athletes, while all-time NBA scoring leader LeBron James ($119.5 million) and Mexican boxing champion Canelo Álvarez ($110 million) round out the top five.
Golfers Dustin Johnson ($107 million) and Phil Mickelson ($106 million) catapulted to No. 6 and No. 7 on the list thanks to their involvement with LIV Golf, while four-time NBA champion Stephen Curry will earn $100.4 million.
Mbappé, Álvarez, Mickleson, Johnson and Curry each topped $100 million for the first time, while Ronaldo, Messi and James have each reached the threshold before in their careers.
Retired tennis legend Roger Federer ($95.1 million) and NBA star Kevin Durant ($89.1 million) rank ninth and 10th, respectively, among the highest-paid athletes, according to Forbes, whose calculations include on-field and off-field earnings calculated between May 1, 2022, and May 1, 2023.
Forbes calculates on-field earnings based on prize money, salaries and bonuses, while off-field earnings are an estimate of sponsorship deals, appearance fees and memorabilia and licensing income. It also includes cash returns from businesses that are operated by the athlete.
The influx of money from the Middle East, both in soccer and golf, respectively, has helped the soccer and LIV golf stars make more money over the past year. According to the report, the world’s ten highest-paid athletes combined made $1.11 billion before taxes and agents’ fees over the last 12 months, making it the highest total ever.
Johnson missed the top 50 last year, but finished with $35.6 million in prize money from LIV Golf over the past 12 months, according to Forbes. Mickelson, 52, was ranked 31st in the last release at $45.3 million, but returns to the top 10 after being a fixture on it from 2006-16.
Ronaldo, whose $136 million set a record for soccer players, made about $90 million off the field. His 2023 figure takes into account the tail end of his pay from Manchester United before parting ways last November to sign with Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr in January.
Messi, whose playing future consists of rumors to return to Barcelona, joining Ronaldo in Saudi Arabia, or jumping to MLS team Inter Miami, made $20 million alone last year from his deal with blockchain-based fan platform Socios, according to Forbes.
Mbappé, the only athlete under 30 on the top 10, made $100 million from his on-field salary last year.