Dislodged from first place in the rankings last year by mixed martial arts (MMA) star Conor McGregor, Lionel Messi has once again become the highest paid athlete in the world. With some 130 million dollars in income (about 125 million euros), the Argentinian star of Paris Saint-Germain was the highest paid athlete in 2021, according to Forbes magazine.
Of his 130 million dollars in gross income before taxes (as in 2019 and 2020 when he was still playing at FC Barcelona), 75 million dollars (72 million euros) come from his contract (endorsements and cumulative salaries) with the Parisian club and 55 million come from its commercial activities, with Adidas, Budweiser and Pepsi Cola in particular.
Lakers basketball player LeBron James, 37, is second with $121.2 million in revenue (€116.8 million), two-thirds of which, around $80 million (€77 million), are from non-sporting gains. Its partnerships, activities and investments range from cinema to cryptocurrency.
Cristiano Ronaldo, who returned this season to Manchester United, completes the podium with 115 million dollars in income (110 million euros). The Portuguese striker, 37, has balanced emoluments, since 60 million come from his sports contract and 55 from his other activities, including sponsorships, with Nike among others.
Neymar, another PSG star player, is 4th (95 million euros, 91 million euros), followed by Stephen Curry, NBA star of the Golden State Warriors (82.8 million euros, 89 million euros) and the basketball player Kevin Durant ($42.1 million in revenue). The first non-footballer and non-basketball athlete is Roger Federer in 7th position with 90.7 million dollars in income, 90 of which come from his commercial activities, since, embarrassed for many months by a painful knee, he played very little at tennis last year.