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Footballer Cristiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo supplants Mayweather to become highest earning athlete

WT24 Desk

Footballer Cristiano Ronaldo has overtaken retired boxer Floyd Mayweather to become the world’s highest earning athlete with $88m from wages and endorsements over the past year, The Financial Times reports.

The striker topped Forbes’ annual list of top earning athletes, which was released on Wednesday, beating Barcelona striker Lionel Messi who earned $81.4m, and basketball player LeBron James, who earned $77.2m.

Mr Ronaldo, who scored the game-winning penalty to clinch victory for Real Madrid in the Uefa Champions League final last month and the third European cup of his career, earned about $56m in salary and a further $32m in endorsements.

The Portuguese player has a sportswear sponsorship deal with Nike, which has launched a clothing range called CR7 (after his initials and shirt number) and has signed partnerships with watchmaker Tag Heuer and nutrition supplements group Herbalife.

He overtook Mr Mayweather, who retired from boxing in October following an undefeated professional career of 49 bouts. Mr Mayweather, who goes by the sobriquet “Money”, remains on the top-earning list despite only fighting once in the past year.

It is the first time since 2001 that an athlete other than Mr Mayweather or golfer Tiger Woods has topped the list. Mr Woods remains 12th on the list, despite losing form since 2009 when he admitted to serial infidelities and took leave from professional golf for a short period. Mr Woods earned just $300,000 from golf winnings, but $45m from endorsement deals with companies including Nike and Titleist.

Phil Mickelson, the highest-earning golfer on the list, gained $2.9m directly from golf and about $50m from sponsorship deals. Tennis star Roger Federer earned more in endorsements than any other athlete, with nearly $60m, in addition to about $7.8m from tennis winnings.

Mr Federer has numerous sponsors, including Nike, Rolex, Mercedes-Benz and Credit Suisse. These deals helped him earn $12m more than Novak Djokovic, the current world number one male tennis player, who won the French Open last week and currently holds all four of the sport’s major titles.

Mr Ronaldo and Mr Messi are the only football players in the top 20, a list dominated by US sportsmen. There are 13 Americans in the list, including American football quarterbacks Cam Newton and Tom Brady.

As in 2015, no woman made it to this year’s top 20 list.

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