Messi, LeBron, Ronaldo Top Forbes’ Highest-Paid Athletes

Paris Saint German Star, Lionel Messi, Lakers forward LeBron James and Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo topped Forbes recently released 2022 list of highest-paid athletes.

Forbes reported on Wednesday that Paris Saint-Germain superstar Lionel Messi topped sports highest-earners after earning $130 million over the past 12 months.

Messi lost roughly $22 million in salary from his final season with Barcelona, but he still makes roughly $75 million with PSG and saw a significant increase in endorsements that matched his 12-month record from last year’s study.

The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner is ahead of Lakers forward LeBron James and Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo, who occupied the second and third positions, respectively.

Collectively, the world’s ten highest-paid athletes raked in $992 million over the last 12 months, according to Forbes’ estimates. That represents a 6% drop from 2021, but the decline is directly related to McGregor’s massive $180 million total last year, after he pocketed an estimated $150 million from the sale of his Irish whiskey brand, Proper No. Twelve. (McGregor fell out of the top ten but will appear in the full ranking of the 50 highest-paid athletes for 2022, publishing later this month.)

This year’s collective total is the third-highest ever, behind 2021’s $1.05 billion and the $1.06 billion total of 2018, when McGregor skewed the result once again with his super fight against Floyd Mayweather.

And in one clear sign that sports’ top stars are doing better than ever, the cutoff to make the top ten this year is $80.9 million, posted by the Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo. That’s an 8% jump from 2021’s $75 million—and a 24% increase from 2019’s $65.4 million, the previous high.

Off the field, the top ten athletes hauled in an estimated $500 million from endorsements, appearances, memorabilia and licensing fees, as well as the cash returns from businesses they operate and equity stakes they sold. That’s nearly flat from last year’s record $512 million.

Complete Sport/Adebayo Yusuf

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