Top 25 World’s Biggest Earning Sportsmen of 2016

Forbes have released their list of the biggest earning sportsmen with their salaries, but who comes out on top?  These top paid athletes are also highest paid athlete in their specific sport region.

Two athletes have dominated the top of Forbes’ annual look at the highest-earners in sports over the past decade and a half: Golfer Tiger Woods landed the No. 1 spot 12 times, while boxer Floyd Mayweather ranked first three of the past four years.

But 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.

This year, soccer icon Cristiano Ronaldo is the world’s highest-paid athlete, with earnings of $88 million over the past 12 months from salary, bonuses and endorsements.

MILAN, ITALY - MAY 28: Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid celebrates scoring the winning penalty during the UEFA Champions League Final match between Real Madrid and Club Atletico de Madrid at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on May 28, 2016 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates, shirtless not surprisingly, scoring the winning penalty during the UEFA Champions League Final between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

It is a good time to be a world-class athlete in a popular team sport. TV money is fueling massive increases in player salaries across baseball, basketball, football and soccer. The cutoff for the top 100 athletes is $20.8 million, up $2 million over last year.

Ronaldo’s Real Madrid contract is worth more than $50 million a year in salary and bonus and runs through 2018. He triggered one of those seven-figure bonuses by leading Real to the Champions League title when he found the back of the net on the clinching penalty kick.

The three-time FIFA player of the year is a marketing juggernaut earning $32 million off the pitch by our count. He kicked off a contract extension with Nike NKE +0.60% last year worth $13 million a year (Nike is partnered with 50 members of the top 100). 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.

Here are the top 25 world’s highest paid athletes listed below:

1. Cristiano Ronaldo

1. Cristiano Ronaldo

Total Earnings: $88 million

2. Lionel Messi

2. Lionel Messi

Total Earnings: $81.4 million

3. LeBron James

3. LeBron James

Total Earnings: $77.2 million

4. Roger Federer

4. Roger Federer

Total Earnings: $67.8 million

5. Kevin Durant

5. Kevin Durant

Total Earnings: $56.2 million

6. Novak Djokovic

6. Novak Djokovic

Total Earnings: $55.8 million

7. Cam Newton

7. Cam Newton

Total Earnings: $53.1 million

8. Phil Mickelson

8. Phil Mickelson

Total Earnings: $52.9 million

9. Jordan Spieth

9. Jordan Spieth

Total Earnings: $52.8 million

10. Kobe Bryant

10. Kobe Bryant

Total Earnings: $50 million

11. Lewis Hamilton

11. Lewis Hamilton

Total Earnings: $46 million

12. Tiger Woods

12. Tiger Woods

Total Earnings: $45.3 million

13. Eli Manning

13. Eli Manning

Total Earnings: $45 million

14. Joe Flacco

14. Joe Flacco

Total Earnings: $44.5 million

15. Tom Brady

15. Tom Brady

Total Earnings: $44.1 million

16. Floyd Mayweather

16. Floyd Mayweather

Total Earnings: $44 million

17. Rory McIlroy

17. Rory McIlroy

Total Earnings: $42.6 million

18. Russell Wilson

18. Russell Wilson

Total Earnings: $41.8 million

19. Sebastian Vettel

19. Sebastian Vettel

Total Earnings: $41 million

20. Philip Rivers

20. Philip Rivers

Total Earnings: $38 million

21. Rafael Nadal

21. Rafael Nadal

Total Earnings: $37.5 million

21. Neymar

21. Neymar

Total Earnings: $37.5 million

23. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

23. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Total Earnings: $37.4 million

24. Fernando Alonso

24. Fernando Alonso

Total Earnings: $36.5 million

25. Gareth Bale

25. Gareth Bale

Total Earnings: $35.9 million

Source:  Forbes

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