Cristiano Ronaldo beats Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe as the highest-paid athlete in 2023 (Top 10)

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Cristiano Ronaldo has become the highest paid athlete in the world, with a move to Al-Nassr nearly doubling his salary, according to Forbes.

Ronaldo joined the Saudi Arabian club in January after leaving Manchester United last year, and despite speculations to the contrary, the five-time Champions League winner has realized the financial advantages of his decision.

According to Forbes, Ronaldo’s playing pay is projected to be $75 million, and he has taken advantage of numerous marketing opportunities.

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Forbes estimates the 38-year-old has earned $136 million from both on-field and off-field revenue in the past year, a total boosted by his move to the Middle East.

For the first time since 2017, Ronaldo tops the athlete rich list, narrowly ahead of close rival Lionel Messi in second.

According to Forbes, the Argentine earned $130 million last year, trailed only by his Paris-Saint-Germain teammate Kylian Mbappé, who earned $120 million.

The three soccer players are closely followed by NBA legend LeBron James in fourth place, with a revenue of $119.5 million, and Mexican boxer Canelo lvarez completed the top five with a revenue of $110 million.

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Golfers Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson are sixth and seventh, illustrating the influence of the new LIV Golf series.

Both have lost sponsors since joining the controversial Saudi-backed breakaway group, but have more than made up for it in prize money.

Johnson secured the inaugural LIV Golf individual championship last year and, according to Forbes, finished the season with a tour-best prize money of $35.6 million.

The American wasn’t even in the top 50 highest-paid athletes in 2022 but has now jumped up to sixth.

Steph Curry, Roger Federer and Kevin Durant complete this year’s top 10, consisting entirely of men, which is calculated between May 1, 2022, and May 1, 2023.

Forbes’ estimates are based on prize money, salaries and bonuses as well as estimations of sponsorship deals and other off-field revenue streams.

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“Skyrocketing league media rights agreements and growing off-field opportunities have already sent athletes’ pay soaring in recent years, but Middle Eastern money is pouring oil on the fire,” Forbes wrote.

“In all, the world’s ten highest-paid athletes collected an estimated $1.11 billion before taxes and agents’ fees over the last 12 months, up 12% from last year’s $990 million and 5% from the record of $1.06 billion set in 2018.”

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