May 3, 2023 - Sports

The world's richest athletes have gotten richer

Data: Forbes; Chart: Axios Visuals

The world's richest athletes have never made more money than they're earning right now.

By the numbers: The 10 highest-paid athletes collected a record $1.11 billion before taxes both on and off the field from May 2022 to May 2023, per Forbes' estimates. That's up 12% from a year ago ($990 million) and up 5% from the previous record set in 2018 ($1.06 billion).

The big picture: The record was achieved in part due to all the Middle Eastern money flowing into pro sports, with half of the top 10 earning sizable paychecks from either Saudis or Qataris.

  • ⚽️ No. 1 Cristiano Ronaldo ($136M): He tops the list for the first time since 2017 thanks to his $75 million annual contract with Saudi club Al-Nassr.
  • ⚽️ No. 2 Lionel Messi ($130M): Half his earnings came on the field playing for Qatari-owned PSG. He's also a Saudi Arabian tourism ambassador, earning as much as $30 million annually, per The Athletic.
  • ⚽️ No. 3 Kylian Mbappé ($120M): Messi's PSG teammate makes his top-10 debut after ranking 35th last year. At 24, he's the only member of the list under 30 years old.
  • ⛳️ No. 6 Dustin Johnson ($107M): DJ's deal with Saudi-backed LIV Golf guaranteed him as much as $150 million, and his $35.6 million in winnings last season led all players.
  • ⛳️ No. 7 Phil Mickelson ($106M): Lefty didn't win much, but LIV paid him $200 million just to join their breakaway tour.

In related news … PSG suspended Messi for two weeks without pay on Tuesday after he took an unauthorized trip to Saudi Arabia to honor his ambassadorship.

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