The ever-expanding global sports industry is a multibillion-dollar business annually attracting huge TV contracts as well as sponsorships, partnerships and endorsement deals from brands looking to sell their products or services to the billions of fans out there.
Also cashing in from this very lucrative venture and enjoying from the fruits of their labor are the superstar athletes whose sublime and extraordinarily consistent performances make the most patronized sports disciplines what they are today.
As expected, Forbes has released its list of the world’s highest-paid athletes for 2019 with the cut-off for the top 100 at $25 million as compared to $17.3 million some 5 years ago showing how lucrative the industry has been over time.
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Forbes calculated the earnings of the top 100 athletes from 10 sporting disciplines between June 2018 and June 2019. The athletes, who are from 25 countries combined for a total of $4 billion in earnings which they received as prize money, salaries and endorsement deals. Forbes further reports that this year’s combined earnings increased by 5% as compared to the previous year.
Basketball came up tops with 35 NBA players combining to rack up $1.3 billion with a breakdown of $972 million in earnings and $321 million in endorsements. The other sports disciplines that follow are football ($704 million), soccer ($457 million), baseball ($449 million) and tennis ($46 million) respectively.
Argentine and FC Barcelona soccer star Lionel Messi is listed as this year’s highest earner with $127 million ($92 million in salary/winnings and $35 million in endorsements). At second is Portuguese and Juventus soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo with $109 million ($65 million in salary/winnings and $44 million in endorsements). Both athletes are the only soccer players to ever rank first on the Forbes highest-paid athletes list.
Breaking even on the top 10 list are 5 black athletes. Scroll through to take a look at their impressive earnings: