Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo has come out on top of Forbes’s new SportMoney Index as the best-paid athlete in the world.
Forbes magazine’s newest tool combines several different sources of income as well as information such as a player’s influence over different parts of the market.
Having announced Ronaldo as sport’s top earner already in 2016, the company boast that their new cross-category ranking is the first of its kind.
Ronaldo, who won the Champions League with his club and Euro 2016 with his country over the course of last year, earned $88 million to beat the likes of LeBron James, Lionel Messi and Neymar to top spot.
The attacker turns 32 on Sunday and has double reason to celebrate after being the first footballer to ever attain the status of being the world’s best-paid sportsman. He has been aided, Forbes note, by the retirement of boxer Floyd Mayweather and the injuries sustained by Tiger Woods.
“With Mayweather hanging up his gloves and Woods hampered by injuries, there is an opening at the top. Filling the gap is the biggest star in the biggest sport on the planet,” Kurt Badenhausen of Forbes reported.
“This year, soccer icon Cristiano Ronaldo is the world’s highest-paid athlete, with earnings of $88m over the past 12 months from salary, bonuses and endorsements. Ronaldo is only the second team athlete after Michael Jordan to rank as the top-paid since Forbes began tracking athlete earnings in 1990.
“Ronaldo’s Real Madrid contract is worth more than $50m-a-year in salary and bonuses, and runs through 2018.
“The three-time FIFA Player of the Year is a marketing juggernaut earning $32m off the pitch by our count. He kicked off a contract extension with Nike last year worth $13m-a-year. Other Ronaldo endorsement partners include Tag Heuer, Herbalife, Pokerstars, Clear Shampoo and more. He has his own line of suits, cologne, shirts, shoes, underwear and hotels under construction.
“Ronaldo’s massive social media presence is a boon to marketers, encompassing 215 million followers across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. He posted 255 times on social media promoting a brand over the last year. Those posts generated $176m in media value, according to Hookit, which tracks sponsorship value in social and digital media.”
Ronaldo, whose income rose from $80m in 2015, earns $7m-per-year more than great rival Messi, who lies in second place, according to the study. Meanwhile, Barcelona and Brazil attacker Neymar lies 21st ($37.4), Manchester United forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic is 23rd ($37.4m) and Ronaldo’s club-mate Gareth Bale is 25th ($35.9m).