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Forbes' rich list reveals top 10 highest paid athletes of 2024

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CRISTIANO RONALDO is the highest-paid sports star of the last 12 months.

The Portuguese superstar has pocketed £205million on and off the pitch during the last year.

Cristiano Ronaldo is the top-paid athlete of the last 12 months

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Cristiano Ronaldo is the top-paid athlete of the last 12 monthsCredit: Reuters

Ronaldo, 39, left European football behind in December 2022, when he signed for Saudi Pro League side Al-Nassr.

While he is no longer playing at the highest-level, the former Manchester United star continues to earn handsomely.

The forward tops Forbes‘ 2024 rich list, having earned £158million in wages and a further £47m in off-field endorsements.

His lucrative brand deals include the likes of Nike, Armani, Tag Heuer and Pokerstars, among others.

Second in the list, and the only golfer to reach the top 10, is LIV star Jon Rahm.

The Spaniard, 29, became the latest high-profile golfer to defect to the Saudi-backed tour last December.

Rahm has pocketed £156m from his golfing endeavours in the last year, in addition to £16m in endorsements – including brand deals with the likes of Mercedes and Rolex.

In a distant third is Lionel Messi, who moved from PSG to Inter Miami a year ago.

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The Argentine has pocketed £107m in total: £52m in wages and £55m in off-field endeavours.

While Messi has earned handsomely, he has pocketed nearly half of what rival Ronaldo has – with a staggering £106m discrepancy between the pair’s respective salaries from Inter Miami and Al-Nassr.

England’s ultimate footballer rich list

The 36-year-old does make up some of the deficit with his brand deals including the likes of Adidas, Budweiser, Mastercard, Pepsi and the Saudi Arabia Tourism Board, among others.

In fourth is NBA superstar LeBron James, who is still going strong at 39.

The American has earned £38m over the last year from the Los Angeles Lakers.

He has endorsements from the likes of Nike, while he also co-owns his own Springhill production company – with his off court earnings totalling £63m.

Jon Rahm joined the LIV Tour last December

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Jon Rahm joined the LIV Tour last DecemberCredit: Getty
Lionel Messi is third on the earnings list... but is way behind rival Ronaldo

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Lionel Messi is third on the earnings list… but is way behind rival RonaldoCredit: Getty
LeBron James is the highest earning American athlete of 2024

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LeBron James is the highest earning American athlete of 2024Credit: Getty

Next on Forbes’ list in fifth is LeBron’s fellow NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The “Greek Freak”, as he is branded by Nike, also has endorsements with the likes of Tissot and 2K Sports – with his off-court earnings totalling £51m – adding to the £36m he pockets from the Milwaukee Bucks.

Sixth on the list is Kylian Mbappe, who has just played out the final year of his eye-watering £71m-a-year contract with Paris Saint-Germain.

The 25-year-old, who is on the verge of joining Real Madrid, pockets a further £16m from endorsements – with partner brands including Nike, Louis Vuitton and Hublot.

In seventh is Mbappe’s former PSG team-mate Neymar.

The Brazilian, 32, signed for Al-Hilal last summer, but has spent much of the year out with an ACL injury.

Neymar’s Saudi salary is worth £63m a year.

He also has a string of partner brands, including Puma, Qatar National Bank and Honda – with his endorsements worth £22m.

Giannis Antetokounmpo has been branded the 'Greek Freak' by Nike

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Giannis Antetokounmpo has been branded the ‘Greek Freak’ by NikeCredit: AP
Kylian Mbappe is leaving PSG this summer

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Kylian Mbappe is leaving PSG this summerCredit: Rex
Neymar has not played since last October

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Neymar has not played since last OctoberCredit: Getty

In eighth is another Saudi-based star: Karim Benzema.

Despite having been desperate to leave Al-Ittihad in January, Benzema has pocketed £79m from the Saudi Pro League club.

The Frenchman, 36, also has £5m worth of endorsements, including deals with Adidas and Hyundai.

In ninth it’s Golden State Warriors superstar Steph Curry.

The all-time leader in NBA three-pointers earns £41m a year with the Warriors.

One of the most marketable athletes on the planet, Curry also pockets £40m in endorsements.

The sharpshooter is a brand ambassador for the likes of Rakuten, Under Armour and crypto platform FTX.

Rounding off the top 10 is NFL star Lamar Jackson.

The quarter-back earns a staggering £78m a year from the Baltimore Ravens.

He lags behind the rest of this list in endorsements, however, pocketing £1m.

While he doesn’t have many brand deals, he does represent Oakley sunglasses.

Karim Benzema wanted to leave Al-Ittihad in January

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Karim Benzema wanted to leave Al-Ittihad in JanuaryCredit: Getty
Steph Curry remains one of the faces of the NBA

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Steph Curry remains one of the faces of the NBACredit: Getty
Lamar Jackson is the sole NFL player in Forbes' top 10

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Lamar Jackson is the sole NFL player in Forbes’ top 10Credit: AP
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