Cristiano Ronaldo becomes first footballer to top Forbes rich-list

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Football News

Cristiano Ronaldo has made history this week after becoming the first footballer ever to top the Forbes list of highest-earning athletes.

The list has been dominated by Tiger Woods and Floyd Mayweather, who have shared top spot every year since 2000. However, Woods has fallen far from golf's pinnacle while boxer Mayweather failed to organise a fight in the last 12 months.

That has allowed Real Madrid stalwart Ronaldo the chance to break new ground and top the list, becoming the first sportsperson of his kind to do so.


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Ronaldo earned an impressive $88million over the last 12 months while Barcelona's Lionel Messi, who finished second, earned $6.6m less.

Although not something Messi is going to worry about, it is, at least, one small victory that Ronaldo will surely enjoy over his arch-rival.

The make-up

$32m of Ronaldo's total income was from endorsements with the rest coming from his wage and bonuses at Real Madrid. Ronaldo has lucrative deals with Nike, ROC headphones and Sacoor Brothers amongst many others while he also has his own line of underwear.

So $56m comes from his wages, which means he earns more than $1m-a-week from Real Madrid. That is beyond any current estimation of his wage with reports suggesting it is anywhere between £260,000-a-week and £350,00-a-week.

By this estimation, however, he earns roughly £740,000-a-week. Can that be true? Obviously it can be, but is it? Probably not.

Pay him more

One interest fact to emerge is that Ronaldo has managed to generate an estimated $176m in value for his sponsors through social media alone. The Portuguese is famous for being the most followed man on the planet, surpassing the '200m followers' mark across a number of platforms earlier this year.

That makes every Facebook post, every Instagram picture and every Tweet incredibly valuable and companies have paid big money to get their brand on there. Indeed, a report on Forbes claims Ronaldo generated $36m in value for Nike through 59 posts over the last 12 months.

Those posts alone appear to have earned back all that sponsors are paying him. So maybe he should be paid more.

Forbes top-earning athletes 2016

Name Sport Salary + endorsements ($m)

Cristiano Ronaldo (Por) Football 88.0
Lionel Messi (Arg) Football 81.4
LeBron James (USA) Basketball 77.2
Roger Federer (Sui) Tennis 67.8
Kevin Durant (USA) Basketball 56.2
Novak Djokovic (Srb) Tennis 55.8
Cam Newton (USA) American football 53.1
Phil Mickelson (USA) Golf 52.9
Jordan Spieth (USA) Golf 52.8
Kobe Bryant (USA) Basketball 50.0
Lewis Hamilton (Eng) Formula One 46.0
Tiger Woods (USA) Golf 45.3
Eli Manning (USA) American football 45.0
Joe Flacco (USA) American football 44.5
Tom Brady (USA) American football 44.1
Floyd Mayweather (USA) Boxing 44.0
Rory McIlroy (NIrl) Golf 42.6
Russell Wilson (USA) American football 41.8
Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Formula One 41.0
Philip Rivers (USA) American football 38.0

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La Liga
Real Madrid
Cristiano Ronaldo
Lionel Messi

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