Ronaldo, Rahm and Messi top Forbes' list of highest-paid athletes for 2024

The record-setting list features four athletes who are backed by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund

NBC Universal, Inc.

The world's biggest athletes are earning more than ever before.

Forbes released its annual ranking of the highest-paid athletes in the world on Thursday. Soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo led the pack with a 2024 payday of $260 million, followed by golfer Jon Rahm at $218 million.

Of the 10 athletes, four play for organizations backed by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia. Ronaldo joined Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr in December 2022 and Rahm joined Saudi-funded LIV Golf in December 2023. Neymar and Karim Benzema, two former stars of European soccer powerhouses, followed in Ronaldo's footsteps to join the Saudi Pro League last year.

Lionel Messi is third on Forbes' list at $135 million as he continues to rake it in after landing with Inter Miami of the MLS last summer.

The 2024 top 10 includes three NBA icons: LeBron James ($128.2 million), Giannis Antetokounmpo ($111 million) and Steph Curry ($102 million).

French soccer star Kylian Mbappé ($110 million) also landed on the list ahead of his move from Paris Saint-German to Real Madrid. Lamar Jackson ($100.5 million), meanwhile, is the lone NFL representative.

Here is how the top 10 shakes out, with information on each athlete's on-field and off-field earnings:

  1. Cristiano Ronaldo, $260 million ($200M on-field/$60M off-field)
  2. Jon Rahm, $218 million ($198M on-field/$20M off-field)
  3. Lionel Messi, $135 million ($65M on-field/$70M off-field)
  4. LeBron James, $128.2 million ($48.2M on-field/$80M off-field)
  5. Giannis Antetokounmpo, $111 million ($46M on-field/$65M off-field)
  6. Kylian Mbappé, $110 million ($90M on-field/$20M off-field)
  7. Neymar, $108 million ($80M on-field/$28M off-field)
  8. Karim Benzema, $106 million ($100M on-field/$6M off-field)
  9. Steph Curry, $102 million ($52M on-field/$50M off-field)
  10. Lamar Jackson, $100.5 million ($98.5M on-field/$2M off-field)

This marks the first time the 10 athletes in Forbes' ranking each earned at least $100 million. Their combined earnings of $1.38 billion also smashed the record mark from 2023 ($1.11 billion) by 24%.

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