World’s highest-paid athletes: Cristiano Ronaldo tops Forbes 2016 list

Story highlights

Portugal captain's earnings put at $88 million

Real Madrid star tops list for the first time ever

Lionel Messi in second spot with $81.4m

CNN  — 

He’s just won the Champions League with Real Madrid – and now Cristiano Ronaldo can celebrate being the world’s highest-paid athlete, too.

Forbes estimates that Portugal captain Ronaldo, who will be one of the biggest stars at Euro 2016 in France, earned a staggering $88 million (£60.4m) last year.

That puts him clear at the top of the American business magazine’s annual compilation of the world’s 100 highest-paid athletes – and it means he is again ahead of Barcelona rival Lionel Messi, with the pair having finished third and fourth last year.

Argentina’s Messi earned $81.4m this year as soccer’s two biggest stars rung the changes at the pinnacle of the list.

It is the first time since 2000 that either golfer Tiger Woods – who drops to 12th after a wretched run of poor form and injury problems – or boxer Floyd Mayweather has not headed the table.

READ MORE: The man behind Ronaldo’s millions

The Forbes data reveals that the top 100 athletes earned an amazing $3.15 billion between them over the past 12 months.

That eye-watering figure actually represents a slight decrease from last year, when the overall $3.2 billion tally was boosted by the $460m fight between Mayweather – nicknamed Money – and Manny Pacquiao.

It was the most lucrative bout in boxing history.

Tennis titans Roger Federer ($67.8m) and Novak Djokovic ($55.8m) retain their top 10 spots in a list that includes stars from 10 different sports.

READ MORE: Djokovic says French Open ‘most beautiful moment’ of career

The 100 highest-paid athletes come from 23 countries, with a majority of them – 65 – Americans.

Amongst those is golfer Jordan Spieth ($52.8m), whose rise from 85th place last year to ninth this time makes him the biggest mover on the list after a year that includes a big-money FedEx Cup success.

Basketball stars LeBron James ($77.2m) and Kevin Durant ($56.2m) occupy third and fifth places, but baseball is the most heavily represented sport on the list, boasting 26 names.

Basketball has 18, American football 21 and soccer 12.

The Forbes figures include all salaries, prize money and bonuses paid out between June 1 last year and the same date in 2016.

The magazine says its calculations are “based on conversations with dozens of industry insiders” and adds: “We do not deduct for taxes or agents’ fees, and we do not include investment income.”

Last year, leader Mayweather raked in $300m, almost double the tally of second-placed Pacquiao, the man he defeated in Las Vegas.

That put him at the summit of the Forbes list for the third time in four years, with his huge earnings dwarfing the previous record set by Woods, who banked $115m back in 2008.

MILAN, ITALY - MAY 28:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid takes off his shirt in celebration after scoring the winning penalty in the penalty shoot out 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)
Real Madrid win UEFA Champions League final
02:41 - Source: CNN