As he prepares for another opportunity to put an end to his tournament drought with the Argentine National soccer team during the Copa América that begins this Friday, football legend and potato chip sponsor Lionel Messi has been named the top-paid athlete in the world by none other than Forbes Magazine. The ranking combines earnings from prize money, salaries, and endorsements between June 2018 and June 2019 which add up to a whopping US $127 million (US $92M from Barcelona and US $35M from sponsors that include Adidas, MasterCard, and Pepsi). How’s that make you feel, Leo?
Messi is only the fourth athlete to have reached the top of the ranking in the last 19 years, mainly because golfer Tiger Woods reached the pinnacle 12 times (the other two are boxer Floyd Mayweather, who’s done it four times, and Messi’s arch nemesis Cristiano Ronaldo who has pulled it off twice). Speaking of Ronaldo, he came in second this year with “just” US $109 million, followed by Neymar with US $105 million.
This marks the first time in the ranking’s existence that three soccer players have taken home the top three spots. The top 5 is rounded out by Mexican boxer Canelo Álvarez and Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer. For those of you keeping count, this means that the top five athletes are not from the US, which is significant given that 62 of the top 100 on the list are from that country.
Overall, the ranking reflects close to US $4 billion in combined earnings, which is up 5 percent from last year, when the aforementioned Mayweather lead the charts with US $285 million (Mayweather didn’t appear on this year’s list because he had no fights scheduled during that period of time).
Here’s to hoping Messi wins that coveted Copa America in the upcoming weeks because, forgive me for sounding like one of his sponsors, there are a few things that money just can’t buy.