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Cristiano Ronaldo tops list of highest paid athletes in 2023 with $275M estimated earnings

Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to the Saudi Pro League with Al-Nassr in January 2023 following the amicable termination of his contract with Manchester United, propelled him to the status of the highest-earning athlete globally for the previous year.

Ronaldo secured an unprecedented salary in Saudi Arabia, elevating him above his peers on the earnings chart.


Additionally, his substantial income was further augmented through lucrative sponsorships and activities on his Instagram page.

For a comprehensive overview of the top five highest-earning athletes in 2023, one can refer to the insights provided by Sportico in their Sports Brief.

Top 5 highest-paid athletes in 2023

Cristiano Ronaldo

The Portuguese superstar earned $275 million in 2023 to lead other athletes worldwide. His salary at Al-Nassr was $215mil in the year, while he made $60mil from sponsorship and his Instagram page, which is the most followed with 620 million.

John Rahm

Spanish golfer Rahm comes in at number two, earning $203mil in 2023, over $70mil less than Ronaldo in first place. Per the Los Angeles Times, his fortunes rose when he joined the LIV Golf League, funded by the Saudi Public Investment Fund. He also made around $23mil in sponsorships.

Lionel Messi

The 2022 FIFA World Cup winner could have been top of this list if he had accepted a $1.5 billion offer from Al-Hilal, per Fox Sports. He joined MLS franchise Inter Miami instead. He earned $130mil in 2023, partly from Paris Saint-Germain and Miami salaries. He also made over $60mil from sponsorships.

LeBron James

James earned the most money from sponsorship of any athlete in the world in 2023. $80mil of his $125.7mil earnings in 2023 came from endorsements. He earned $45.7mil in salaries from the Los Angeles Lakers.

Kylian Mbappe

The French national team captain is fifth on the list, earning $125mil from salaries and endorsements in 2023. He earned $100mil from wages and a modest $25mil. Per Bleacher Report, he rejected a $776mil salary to join Al-Hilal in the summer.

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