(Los Angeles) Paris SG star Lionel Messi was the highest-paid sportsman in the world in 2021, with some $130 million in income, according to Forbes magazine, ahead of LeBron James and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The 34-year-old Argentine footballer returns to first place in this ranking established by the American specialized media, from which mixed martial arts (MMA) star Conor McGregor had dislodged him last year.
Of his $130 million in gross income before taxes (as in 2019 and 2020 when he was still playing FC Barcelona), $75 million came from his contract (endorsements and cumulative salaries) with the Parisian club and $55 million came from of its commercial activities, with Adidas, Budweiser and Pepsi Cola in particular.
Lakers superstar LeBron James, 37, is second with $121.2 million in earnings, two-thirds of which, about $80 million, are non-sports earnings. Its partnerships, activities and investments range from cinema to cryptocurrency.
Cristiano Ronaldo, who returned to Manchester United this season, completes the podium with $115 million in earnings. The Portuguese striker, 37, has balanced emoluments, since 60 million come from his sports contract and 55 from his other activities, including sponsorships, with Nike among others.
Neymar, another PSG star player, is 4th ($95m), followed by NBA Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry ($82.8m).
The first non-footballer and non-basketball player is Roger Federer in 7th position with 90.7 million dollars in income, 90 of which come from his commercial activities, since, hampered for many months by a painful knee, he played very little in tennis last year.