He might have one of the ugliest statues you’ll ever see in sports, but that probably doesn’t matter since Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo is the highest-paid athlete in the world with salary, bonuses and endorsements totaling $93 million a year according to Forbes. The top ranking puts him nearly seven million dollars ahead of the next athlete on the list, NBA superstar LeBron James, whose three-year, $100 million contract extension he signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers in July after helping to deliver the first championship in decades to the Ohio city. His $55 million in endorsements is just shy of tennis superstar Roger Federer, who gets the fourth spot on the list, but pulls in $58 million a year endorsing high-end companies like Mercedes, Nike and Rolex, more than any other name on the list.
The list has some close resemblances to ESPN’s recent ranking of most famous players on the planet. That World Fame List, which takes into account both money and social media stats, also counts Ronaldo, James, soccer star Lionel Messi and Federer in the top four, but on the Forbes list, Kevin Durant makes the fifth spot with $60.6 million a year coming in. On the ESPN list, he comes in at number eight.
One interesting thing to note on the Forbes list is that athletes from North American team sports, especially basketball, make the top of the highest-paid list more than the most famous list. For instance, Tom Brady is the first NFL player on the ESPN list in the 21st spot, but on the highest-paid list, the first American football player is Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck ties golfer Rory McIlroy at $50 million. The bulk of Luck’s money comes from his $47 million in salary and bonuses, and is buffered by $3 million in endorsements, by far the least amount in endorsement money by any of the athletes in the top 10.
NBA players make up the bulk of the top 20 of the list, including Steph Curry, James Harden and Dwyane Wade, seven out of the 20 overall.
Another very noticeable thing, looking at the expanded list of top 100 athletes is the lack of women on it. Serena Williams comes in at 51 with $27 million a year. UFC superstar Conor McGregor cracks the top 25 with $34 million, while Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw is the first baseball player on the list at number 28.
Overall, the list paints a picture of where the money is in sports. The NBA is the place where to make the most between big contracts and endorsement deals, while the greatest soccer players making the biggest dollars overall. Women, unfortunately, are almost totally kept out of the big money boys club save for Williams, who is arguably the best at what she does in the world, but just misses out making the top 50.