Paris SG star Lionel Messi was the highest paid sportsman in the world in 2021, with some 130 million dollars in income (around 125 million euros), according to Forbes magazine, ahead of LeBron James and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The 34-year-old Argentine footballer returns to first place in this ranking established by the American specialized media, from which mixed martial arts (MMA) star Conor McGregor had dislodged him last year.
Of his 130 million dollars in gross income before taxes (as in 2019 and 2020 when he was still playing at FC Barcelona), 75 million dollars (72 M EUR) come from his contract (endorsements and cumulative salaries) with the club Parisian and 55 million come from its commercial activities, with Adidas, Budweiser and Pepsi Cola in particular.
Lakers superstar LeBron James, 37, is second with $121.2m in earnings (€116.8m), of which two-thirds, around $80m (€77m), are extra earnings -athletes. Its partnerships, activities and investments range from cinema to cryptocurrency.
Cristiano Ronaldo, who returned to Manchester United this season, completes the podium with 115 million dollars in revenue (110 million euros). The Portuguese striker, 37, has balanced emoluments, since 60 million come from his sports contract and 55 from his other activities, in particular sponsorships, with Nike among others.
Neymar, another star PSG player, is 4th (95 million dollars, 91 million euros), followed by Stephen Curry, NBA star of the Golden State Warriors (82.8 million dollars, 89 million euros).
The first non-footballer and non-basketball athlete is Roger Federer in 7th position with 90.7 million dollars in income, 90 of which come from his commercial activities, since, embarrassed for many months by a painful knee, he played very little at tennis last year.