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Elite athletes are earning more than ever thanks to soaring salaries driven by ever-richer TV contracts. The cutoff to crack the world’s 100 highest-paid athletes is $25 million this year, compared with $17.3 million five years ago.
Forbes has tracked the leading earners in sports for three decades, and only seven athletes have landed in the top spot since 1990 (Tiger Woods holds the record with 12 times at No. 1). Global soccer icon Lionel Messi adds an eighth name to the roll call this year and, after longtime rival Cristiano Ronaldo, is only the second soccer player to rank first.
The top 100 spans 10 sports and includes athletes from 25 countries. Their $4 billion in combined earnings from prize money, salaries and endorsements between June 2018 and June 2019 is up 5% from last year, when Floyd Mayweather was first with $285 million.