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The top 10 highest-paid athletes in 2022 revealed

The top 10 highest-paid athletes in 2022 revealed as Cristiano is ranked third

May 12, 2022 By Ali M.
Ronaldo and long-time rival Lionel Messi are two of only three footballers to makes Forbes' top 10 list this year.

The list of the world's highest-paid athletes has once again been compiled, and as expected, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo remain the two highest earners from the world of football.

Forbes released its annual list of the highest-paid men's athlete during a one-year cycle, which includes "all prize money, salaries and bonuses earned between May 1, 2021, and May 1, 2022".

So who grabbed the no.1 spot? That honor went to none other than Messi, with the Argentine icon picking up a whopping $130M over the last 12 months. That figure is a pre-tax gross earning, securing him the top spot on Forbes' coveted list for only the second time, with the other coming in 2019.

Last year the Argentine only managed to grab the runners-up spot, finishing behind MMA superstar Conor McGregor, but has gone up a ranking this year. This is despite La Pulga's salary taking a huge hit when he moved from Barcelona to PSG on a free. Nonetheless, despite his poor debut season in Ligue 1, the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner picked up $55M in endorsements to help him edge out bitter rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Portuguese icon, meanwhile, also underwent a summer move, leaving Juventus for a return to Manchester United, and while the club endured a disastrous season, the 37-year-old enjoyed the campaign on a personal note. Unfortunately, this was not enough to see the five-time Ballon d'Or winner grab the top spot on Forbes list.

The attacker earned $115M, a figure which could decrease over the next year should he remain at Old Trafford, as the Red Devils' failure to secure UEFA Champions League football for next season will result in his wages being cut. Nonetheless, the Euro 2016 winner is one of only three footballers to make this list, with the third being none other than Neymar.

The Brazilian comes in at fourth, earning $95M despite being the highest-paid player at PSG. Just like Messi, the Selecao sensation did not enjoy the 2021/22 campaign and was even subject to boos, alongside Leo, from the French club's own fans after their UEFA Champions League exit at the hands of Real Madrid.

In between Messi and Ronaldo is NBA icon Lebron James, with the Los Angeles Lakers ace coming in at second thanks to his earnings of $121M. Fellow NBA superstar Stephen Curry ($92.8M) wrapped up the top five while the likes of Conor McGregor and F1 driver Sir Lewis Hamilton dropped out of the top 10 this year. Check out the list in full below.

The top 10 highest-paid athletes (May 1, 2021-May 1, 2022)

  1. Lionel Messi: $130M

  2. Lebron James: $121.2M

  3. Cristiano Ronaldo: $115M

  4. Neymar: $95M

  5. Stephen Curry: $92.8M

  6. Kevin Durant: $92.1M

  7. Roger Federer: $90.7M

  8. Canelo Alvarez: $90M

  9. Tom Brady: $83.9M

  10. Giannis Antetokounmpo: $80.9M 


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