The sporting world has a new highest earner with football superstar Lionel Messi returning to the throne for the first time since 2012, Forbes announced on Wednesday morning (AEST).
Messi was assessed in the annual sporting rich list to be the clear highest earning athlete on the planet with more than $US18 million more than nearest rival Cristiano Ronaldo.
Messi’s return to the top came at the expense of boxing superstar Floyd Mayweather who went from the highest paid athlete in the world 12 months ago with earnings of $US285 million to completely disappearing from the 2019 rich list. Mayweather failed to earn the $US25 million needed to see him feature ahead of Virat Kohli — the No. 100 highest earning athlete this year.
Messi raked in $US127 million via salary and endorsement deals.
That put Messi ahead of long-time rival Ronaldo, the Juventus and Portugal star who was second with earnings of $US109 million.
Brazil and Paris Saint-Germain striker Neymar completed a sweep of the top three positions by footballers, coming in third with earnings of $US105 million.
The fourth highest earner on the list was Mexico’s middleweight boxing star Saul “Canelo” Alvarez with $94 million.
Alvarez, who defeated Gennady Golovkin last September to become the unified middleweight champion, inked the richest deal in boxing history last October, signing a five-year 11-fight contract with streaming network DAZN worth $365 million.
Alvarez was one of the big movers in the past 12 months, with his annual earnings skyrocketing from $US 44.5 million to $US94 million over the past year.
Evergreen tennis star Roger Federer was another big mover, jumping up to fifth on the list with total earnings of $US93.4 million.
The bulk of Federer’s earnings came through lucrative endorsement deals, with the 20-time Grand Slam singles champion pocketing $US86 million.
His new deal with Uniqlo has helped see his earnings increase from $US70 million last year to $US93.4 million.
Stars from the NFL and NBA rounded out the top 10 on the list, with Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson sixth on $89.5 million, just ahead of Green Bay Packers signal-caller Aaron Rodgers ($US89.3 million).
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James was the highest earning NBA player, with $US89 million, while Golden State’s Stephen Curry was ninth with $US79.8 million.
Curry’s Golden State teammate Kevin Durant was 10th on the rankings with $US65.4 million.
Former world number one Tiger Woods was 11th on the list with $US69.3 million, which included an estimated $54 million in endorsements.
Meanwhile tennis superstar Serena Williams was the only woman to make the list, coming in at 63rd with earnings of $29.2 million.
FORBES RICH LIST 2019
1. Lionel Messi $127M
2. Cristiano Ronaldo $109M
3. Neymar $105M
4. Canelo Alvarez $94M
5. Roger Federer $93.4M
6. Russell Wilson $89.5M
7. Aaron Rodgers $89.3M
8. LeBron James $89M
9. Stephen Curry $79.8M
10. Kevin Durant $65.4M
— with AFP