Lionel Messi Tops Richest Sports Stars List Earning Less Than Half Of 2018’s Top Earner

by : Lucy Connolly on :
Lionel Messi Tops Richest Sports Stars List Earning Less Than Half Of 2018's Top EarnerPA

Lionel Messi has been named the world’s highest-paid athlete, earning less than half of last year’s top earner.

The Argentine professional footballer today (June 11) took the top spot, having never won before despite coming second place last year.


Messi replaces Floyd Mayweather, who was named the richest sports star last year, and was the winner four times in seven years.

Lionel Messi Shocks Reporter By Wearing His Good Luck Ribbon During Argentina's WinPA

The news comes after Forbes released its annual ranking of the World’s 100 Highest-Paid athletes, who collectively earned $4 billion over the last 12 months. This is up five per cent from last year’s earnings of $3.8 billion.

Messi himself boasts $127 million in total earnings, while runner-up Cristiano Ronaldo, a longtime rival of Messi, earned $109 million between his salary and endorsements.


In fact, each of the top three this year were footballers; Brazil and PSG forward Neymar came third, earning a total of $105 million over the past 12 months. Anyone want to give me a spare mill, guys?


Kurt Badenhausen, senior editor at Forbes Media, noted this football-focused top three, stating ‘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’.

He continued:


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 per cent of that income coming from salaries rather than endorsement deals.

The list of athletes includes players from ten different sports, with NBA stars leading with more than a third of the list comprising of basketball players (35), headed by LeBron James at number eight.

American football was the next most represented sport with 19 players, while baseball had 15 and soccer had 12.

LeBron JamesGetty

Interestingly, despite taking the top position this year, Messi earned a giant $158 million less than last year’s winner, Floyd Mayweather. In other words, he earned less than half of what Mayweather did in 2018.

Why? Because the boxer raked in a massive $275 thanks to his Conor McGregor fight in 2017, setting him up for the rest of the year.

Now though, ‘Money’ seemingly isn’t living up to his nickname as he hasn’t quite made it onto the top 100 this year.

Conor McGregor taunts Floyd Mayweather, fighting with his hands behind his back.PA

Other notable athletes who made it on the elite list were Serena Williams – who appeared at number 63 after no women were listed last year – Roger Federer, and Anthony Joshua.

Congrats to everyone who made it onto the list, now if you could just lend me some money that’d be much appreciated.

Please and thank you.

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Lucy Connolly

A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).

Topics: Sport, Floyd Mayweather, Football, Forbes, Money


Forbes and 1 other
  1. Forbes

    Lionel Messi Claims Top Spot on Forbes' 2019 List Of The World's 100 Highest-Paid Athletes

  2. Forbes

    Forbes' 2018 List Of The World's 100 Highest-Paid Athletes Sees Floyd Mayweather Reclaiming The Top Spot