Messi tops Forbes list of wealthiest athletes

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FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi (L) vies the ball with Atletico Madrid's Feliipe Luis during the Spanish league football match between FC Barcelona and Atletico de Madrid at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Sept. 21, 2016. The match ended in a draw 1-1. (Xinhua/Lino De Vallier)

Lionel Messi was the world's highest-paid athlete over the past year, Forbes magazine reported on Tuesday in its annual sporting rich list.

Barcelona and Argentina star Messi dethroned retired boxer Floyd Mayweather as the sports world's highest earner, raking in $127 million via salary and endorsement deals.

Mayweather, who topped the list in 2018 and four times in seven years, only had an exhibition match last December in Japan and did not crack the top 100, which is comprised of athletes from 10 different sports.

That put Messi ahead of longtime rival Cristiano Ronaldo, the Juventus and Portugal star who ranked second with earnings of $109 million.

Brazil and Paris Saint-Germain striker Neymar completed a sweep of the top three positions by soccer players, coming in third with earnings of $105 million.

The fourth highest earner on the list was Mexico's middleweight boxing star Saul "Canelo" Alvarez with $94 million.

Alvarez, who defeated Gennady Golovkin last September to become the unified middleweight champion, inked one of the richest deals in boxing history last October - a five-year, 11-fight contract with streaming network DAZN worth $365 million.

Tennis legend Roger Federer was fifth on the list with total earnings of $93.4 million.

The bulk of Federer's earnings came through lucrative endorsement deals, with the 20-time Grand Slam singles champion pocketing $86 million.

Stars from the NFL and NBA rounded out the top 10 on the list, with Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson sixth at $89.5 million, just ahead of Green Bay Packers signal-caller Aaron Rodgers ($89.3 million).

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James was the highest earning NBA player, with $89 million, while Golden State's Stephen Curry was ninth with $79.8 million.

Curry's Warriors team-mate Kevin Durant was 10th on the rankings with $65.4 million.

Former world No 1 golfer Tiger Woods was 11th with $69.3 million, which included an estimated $54 million in endorsements.

Meanwhile, tennis superstar Serena Williams was the only woman to make the list, coming in at 63rd with earnings of $29.2 million.

Basketball led all sports, with 35 NBA players among the top 100.

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