Forbes: Cristiano Ronaldo highest-paid athlete for 2024 for 4th time

credit: Shutterstock
credit: Shutterstock

Forbes’ annual highest-paid athlete year list has revealed that football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo tops the list for 2024 after amassing record-breaking earnings for a football player. 

The all-time $260m record saw Ronaldo make $200m from his contract with Saudi Pro League club Al Nassr, whilst making $60m in endorsements and other off-field business ventures. 

The Portuguese forward signed for Al Nassr in January 2023, becoming one of the first in a long line of high-profile signings to the Saudi Pro League. He also gained $10.5m from former club Juventus from a dispute over unpaid wages in which was ruled in favour of Ronaldo. 

Off the pitch, Ronaldo has earned his $60m from contracts with the likes of Nike, Herbalife and Clear Haircare. The former Real Madrid and Manchester United star is still currently the most followed person on Instagram with 629 million followers, showing that despite being 39-years-old, he remains sports biggest commercial asset. 

In second place is Spanish golfer Jon Rahm after receiving a lucrative contract to join LIV Golf. The two-time major winner’s contract with the Saudi golf league is worth a reported $350m over an extended period of time, with Forbes revealing he took home $198m so far. 

Saudi Arabia’s proliferation of pouring money into sports as part of its efforts to become a more diversified nation is a somewhat overarching theme of Forbes’ list

Neymar ranks seventh as his Al-Hilal contract signed in the summer of 2023 brought him in $80m, whilst 2022 Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema comes in eighth with his on-field earnings at Al-Ittihad coming in at $100m. 

Whilst Ronaldo tops the list for the fourth time, his long-time rival Lionel Messi is not far behind him in third. 

Messi’s move to the MLS to join Inter Miami last summer has brought in a new wave of attention to US soccer, indicative of the surge in Apple TV subscriptions for its league pass that covers the league. 

According to Forbes, Messi’s contract with the Miami-based football club earned him $65m, but it’s off the pitch where the Argentinian superstar brought in most of his earnings for the year. 

The World Cup winner has a range of high-profile sponsorships with Adidas, Apple and Konami amongst others, which collectively brought in $70m in earnings. 

Messi’s 2022 World Cup final opponent and former PSG teammate Kylian Mbappe came in sixth of the highest-earners list, being the youngest on the list at 25. 

Despite announcing his departure from PSG and almost seemingly joining Real Madrid this summer, Mbappe’s contract with the Parisian club earned him $90m. 

LeBron James (fourth: $128.2m), Giannis Antetokounmpo (fifth: $111m) and Stephen Curry ($102m) were three basketball players on the top ten list. James has a plethora of commercial ventures which earned him $80m off the court, whilst Antetokounmpo and Curry have two of the most lucrative NBA deals, $46m and $52m respectively. 

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was the only NFL player to make the list, earning $100.5m in total, with a large majority of that coming by way of his $98.5m on-field earnings.

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