Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo topped Forbes' ranking of the world's highest paid athletes in 2017 for the second straight year, earning $93 million in salary and endorsement income. He edged out basketball star LeBron James, who took home $86.2 million and Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi, who received $80 million.
Before Ronaldo became the best-paid athlete, the title had belonged to either golfer Tiger Woods or boxer Floyd Mayweather for 15 straight years.
Ronaldo plays for Real Madrid, which recently became the first club in nearly 30 years to win the Champions League, Europe's biggest soccer prize, in back-to-back seasons. According to media reports in Europe, Real Madrid may receive offers of 180 million euros ($202 million) for the forward, who is due to play Friday in a World Cup qualifying match between Portugal and Latvia.
James, who led the Cleveland Cavaliers to their second straight NBA title match this season against the Golden State Warriors, is one of 32 professional basketball players on the list, the most of any sport. The Warriors' Kevin Durant and his teammate Stephen Curry ranked fifth and eighth with total compensation of $60.6 million and $47.3 million respectively. The Warriors currently lead the best of seven series against the Cavaliers, the defending champions, two games to zero.
Messi, whose FC Barcelona team is a rival to Real Madrid, reportedly plans to open a theme park in China. Tennis' Roger Federer, who is considered one the game's greatest players, finished in fourth place with $64 million in pay and endorsement income. Forbes calculated its ratings based on income earned in the 12-month period ending June 1, 2017.
The decline in the fortunes of Woods and Mayweather is understandable.
Woods, who was rated the world's top golfer longer than anyone else, ranks 17th on Forbes' newest list, earning $37 million even though he hasn't won a major tournament since 2008. Back injuries have sidelined him for the rest of this season. Moreover, Woods' once-squeaky clean image with sponsors was undermined in recent years by reports of his womanizing and his Memorial Day arrest for driving under the influence. Since turning pro two decades ago, Woods has earned an estimated $1.4 billion.
Mayweather didn't make the cut for Forbes' list, which was a minimum of $21 million in earnings, because he hasn't had a fight in the past 12 months, as he retired in 2015. The boxer, though, has indicated that he is interested in returning to the ring to face mixed-martial artist Connor McGreggor, although a deal for the fight to happen has yet to be reached. Mayweather doesn't need the money. Forbes estimates his fortune at $340 million.
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