Lionel Messi tops Forbes’ list of highest-paid athletes for 2022


The soccer sensation reportedly brings in pre-tax gross income of $130 million a year from on- and off-field activities, keeping him ahead of LeBron James and rival Cristiano Ronaldo on the rich list.

Messi, who earns $75 million a year playing football, also takes in $55 million from sponsorship deals and endorsements.

It’s the second time the Argentine has topped Forbes’ list, the last time in 2019.

The 10 highest earners, all of whom are male, collectively brought in $992 million in gross pre-tax earnings over the past year.

Messi has come under fire for some of his off-pitch sponsorships, recently promoting tourism in Saudi Arabia. He was photographed in the country and posted a picture on his personal Instagram account tagged #VisitSaudi.

The country has long been accused of sportswashing in order to hide its poor human rights record.
“Recent additions to Messi’s sources of income: Qatar, controversial crypto company Socios and Saudi Arabia. Man must eat,” the New York Times reporter tweeted. Tariq Panja.

CNN contacted Messi’s representatives for comment but did not receive an immediate response.

NBA superstar James ranks second on the rich list, earning $121.2 million a year.

The Los Angeles Lakers forward may have missed the playoffs this season, but he’s been dominant off the court, enjoying his talk show and playing in the past year Space Jam: A New Legacy film.

Forbes estimates that James is now worth $850 million.

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Cristiano Ronaldo completes the top three, earning $115 million after leaving Juventus for Manchester United.

The Portuguese superstar earns the same as Messi off the pitch, with the majority coming from his unparalleled social media presence.

Ronaldo has 690 million followers on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, allowing him to take advantage of higher sponsorship fees from a number of companies.

Forbes calculates estimates based on prize money, salaries, and bonuses as well as estimates for endorsement deals and other off-field revenue streams.

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