Ronaldo, Messi, Tyson, Mayweather, Schumacher, Jordan: Who is the highest-paid athlete ever?

Cristiano Ronaldo, Michael Jordan and Floyd Mayweather

Cristiano Ronaldo has achieved so much in his football career.

The Portuguese turned professional in 2002 and it didn’t take him long to establish himself as one of the world’s best footballers.

Now 36 years old, Ronaldo is coming to the end of his career but continues to perform at an extremely high level.

Ronaldo’s brilliance over the past 20 years means he’s been able to accrue an insane amount of money. 

In fact, Sportico have revealed that he’s earned more than a billion dollars over the course of his career.

But where does he rank among the highest-paid athletes of all-time?



Sportico have crunched the numbers and named the top 25 highest-paid athletes ever, according to inflation adjusted earnings.

25. Derek Jeter | Baseball | $555m

24. Peyton Manning | American Football | $570m

23. Oscar de la Hoya | Boxing | $580m

22. Jeff Gordon | Stock Car Racing | $595m

21. Neymar | Football | $615m

20. Lewis Hamilton | Formula 1 | $620m

Lewis Hamilton

19. Kevin Durant | Basketball | $625m

18. Manny Pacquiao | Boxing | $630m

17. Alex Rodriguez | Baseball | $650m

16. Mike Tyson | Boxing | $775m

15. Greg Norman | Golf | $815m

14. Shaquille O’Neal | Basketball | $870m

13. Kobe Bryant | Basketball | $930m

12. David Beckham | Football | $1.05bn

David Beckham in action for Real Madrid

11. Phil Mickelson | Golf | $1.08bn

10. Roger Federer | Tennis | $1.12bn

9. Michael Schumacher | Formula 1 | $1.13bn

8. Lionel Messi | Football | $1.14bn

7. LeBron James | Basketball | $1.17bn

6. Floyd Mayweather | Boxing | $1.2bn

5. Cristiano Ronaldo | Football | $1.24bn

4. Jack Nicklaus | Golf | $1.38bn

Arnold Palmer (left) and Jack Nicklaus (right)

3. Arnold Palmer | Golf | $1.5bn

2. Tiger Woods | Golf | $2.1bn

1. Michael Jordan | Basketball | $2.62bn

The list is dominated by athletes from the United States.

16 sportspeople from the United States feature, including six of the top seven.

The highest-paid non-American is Ronaldo.

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The 36-year-old has earned a whopping $1.24bn during his career, enough to make him the fifth highest-paid athlete ever.

The Portuguese is one of four footballers that make the list. He has earned $100m than eternal rival Messi (8th), while Beckham (12th) and Neymar (21st) also feature.

Despite earning an incredible fortune, the Man United star is no where near top spot.

That’s because Jordan has earned a quite ludicrous $2.62bn in his career, more than $500m than Woods in second place.

It’ll be a long, long time until someone surpasses Jordan as the highest-paid athlete ever.

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