Thanks to his contract with the Saudi Al-Nassr Club, Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo has become the highest-paid athlete in the world in 2023, according to Forbes magazine.
With an annual income of $136 million, the 38-year-old striker once again topped the list of highest earning athletes. He last occupied the number one spot in 2016 and 2017.
His return to the top is the direct result of his departure from Manchester United and move to Saudi Arabia in January, with his combined contracts earning him $46 million this season, in addition to $90 million from various commercial partnerships over the past 12 months.
His contract with Al Nassr ends in 2025 and sees Ronaldo earning an annual salary of $75 million, according to estimates by Forbes. He is also expected to reap income from “additional marketing opportunities” in Saudi Arabia, for which Ronaldo has also become a tourism ambassador.
His rival, Lionel Messi, is also the kingdom’s tourism ambassador and came in at number two in Forbes’ ranking with annual earnings of $130 million. There have been reports that he is on course to join Ronaldo by moving to Saudi Arabia when his contract with French side Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) ends in the summer. The Telegraph has reported that the deal is worth $400 million and would see the Argentine join the Saudi Pro League.
PSG’s Kylian Mbappé was named as having the third highest earnings, according to Forbes, at $120 million.