Raking in $88 million, Real Madrid soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo earned more than any other professional athlete in 2016.
The Portuguese footballer supplanted last year’s top earner, Floyd Mayweather. The celebrated retired pugilist dropped to #16 by earning a paltry $44 million, representing a huge cut in pay from last year’s income of $300 million.
Ronaldo becomes the first since 2001 to top Forbes’ annual list of top-earning athletes other than Mayweather and golfer Tiger Woods. Earning just $300,000 from tournament winnings in 2015, Tiger still boasts the #12 ranking thanks to $45 million in endorsements, a large portion of which comes from Nike and Titleist.
Number two on Forbes list, Lionel Messi, can also attribute making mad bank thanks to professional soccer. In 2015, the Argentinean forward for Barcelona earned $81.4 million.
LeBron James earned the distinction of being America’s top sports money earner, pocketing $77.2 million. Coming in the #3 spot overall, the four-time NBA MVP can give a major thank-you to Nike. James penned a deal with the sports merchandising giant for a life time endorsement contract in 2015, rendering them a major donor to the LeBron James personal checking account. Ultimately, the contract should net King James a cool $1 billion.
Swiss tennis player Roger Federer pulled in $67 million for the fourth spot and NBA star Kevin Durant ranks fifth, earning $56 million. Retired NBA icon Kobe Bryant remained relevant by earning $50 million over the past 12 months from salary, bonuses and endorsements and holds down the #10 ranking.
PGA upstart and already a two-time Major champion, 22-year-old Jordan Spieth, finds himself at #9 with $52 million in earnings. Right in front of Spieth at #8 is golf super-star Phil Mickelson, who brought home just under $53 million.
Not surprisingly, quarterbacking an NFL franchise continues to be a gift that keeps on giving. Cam Newton led the NFL in earnings with $53 million, capturing the #7 position of the worlds highest paid athletes. Quarterbacks Eli Manning, Joe Flacco, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, and Philip Rivers all finished in the top 20.
No women cracked the top 25 highest paid athletes over the last 12 months. Serena Williams earning $28.9 million comes in at #40 overall and #1 with female athletes.
Maria Sharapova, who was banned from professional tennis for two years this week for using a performing enhancement drug, ranks second for women and No. 88 overall with earnings of $21.9 million.