International soccer stars lead latest Forbes list of top-paid athletes

Forbes released its annual look at the world’s highest-paid athletes earlier this week with soccer superstars unsurprisingly topping the lucrative list.

The top 10 highest-paid athletes over the past 12 months made a combined $1.113 billion before taxes and agents fees, according to the publication, which marks a new record previously set in 2018 when the top 10 athletes that year combined for roughly $1.059 billion.

The list was comprised of three soccer players, three NBA superstars, two golfers that bolted from the PGA Tour to the LIV Tour, one boxing champion and one retired tennis legend.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo: $136 million (On-Field: $46M | Off-Field: $90M)
2. Lionel Messi: $130 million (On-Field: $65M | Off-Field: $65M)
3. Kylian Mbappé: $120 million (On-Field: $100M | Off-Field: $20M)
4. LeBron James: $119.5 million (On-Field: $44.5M | Off-Field: $75M)
5. Canelo Alvarez: $110 million (On-Field: $100M | Off-Field: $10M)
6. Dustin Johnson: $107 million (On-Field: $102M | Off-Field: $5M)
7. Phil Mickelson: $106 million (On-Field: $104M | Off-Field: $2M)
8. Stephen Curry: $100.4 million (On-Field: $48.4M | Off-Field: $52)
9. Roger Federer: $95.1 million (On-Field: $0.1M | Off-Field: $95M)
10. Kevin Durant: $89 million (On-Field: $44.1M | Off-Field: $45M)

Ronaldo is back to being No. 1 on this list for the first time since 2017 after receiving a haul of cash from Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr in January after leaving Manchester United in November.

Paris Saint-Germain F.C. teammates Messi and Mbappé combined for a quarter billion in total earnings. Messi was the No. 1 highest-paid athlete in 2022, while Mbappé moves up from No. 35 a year ago. Mbappé is the youngest athlete on the list at age 24 and the only one in the top 10 under the age of 32.

Boxing’s super middleweight champion Alvarez and NBA superstars James, Curry and Durant all return to the top 10, as does Federer despite retiring from tennis in September.

Mbappé, Johnson and Mickelson are the new faces in the top 10 this year, replacing Neymar, Tom Brady and Giannis Antetokounmpo who ranked fourth, ninth and 10th, respectively, on 2022’s list.

Forbes noted in its article the “off-field earnings figures are an estimate of sponsorship deals, appearance fees and memorabilia and licensing income for the 12 months leading to May 1, 2023, plus cash returns from any businesses operated by the athlete, based on conversations with industry insiders,” adding it doesn’t “include investment income such as interest payments or dividends but does account for payouts from equity stakes athletes have sold.”

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