Lionel Messi has been named the world’s highest paid athlete for the first time, up from second place last year, with $127 million in total earnings.
Messi unseats Floyd Mayweather, who held the crown last year, and was the leader four times in seven years.
Behind Messi is longtime rival Cristiano Ronaldo (No. 2), who earned $109 million between his salary and endorsements. Serena Williams (No. 63) returned to the ranking, after no women appeared in 2018.
Cost of admission to the 2019 list is the highest ever at $25 million, up $2.1 million from the previous year. Endorsement income experienced an increase of 12.5% to $987 million this year.
“The global impact of soccer is clearly reflected in earnings in 2019, with the top three athletes on the list being Messi, Ronaldo, and Neymar.
But basketball players continue to dominate the top 100 overall with 35 athletes on the list earning a total of $1.29 billion, with 72% of that income coming from salaries rather than endorsement deals.” said Kurt Badenhausen, senior editor, Forbes Media