Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and the highest-paid athletes of 2022 - top 10 in pictures

Argentine footballer tops the list after earning $130m followed by NBA star LeBron James at $121.2m

Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Lionel Messi has been named the highest-paid athlete for 2022, according to Forbes' annual rich list, with the Paris Saint-Germain star raking in $130 million through a combination of on-field and off-field earnings.

Messi's annual contract with PSG, whom he joined from Barcelona last summer, is reported to be worth around $40m in addition to the $25m the Argentine received as a signing fee. Away from the pitch, the 34-year-old forward signed a $20m-per-year sponsorship with fan engagement platform Socios, adding to an endorsement portfolio which includes Adidas, Pepsi, Hard Rock International, and earlier this week, Saudi Arabia tourism.

Messi is followed on the list by basketball star LeBron James, who made $121.2m. The Los Angeles Lakers star has a large portfolio of sponsorship deals, including Nike, Crypto.com, Beats Electronics, and Pepsi. James also starred in the Space Jam: A New Legacy movie and sold his minority stake in production company SpringHill. While his off-court earnings of $80m are responsible for the majority of his wealth last year, the 37-year-old American also earned $41.2m with his Lakers contract.

Completing the top three is Messi's long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo at $115m. It may have been a disappointing season for Manchester United but that has not affected Ronaldo's earning potential, with the Portuguese forward pocketing $60m in on-field earnings and $55m in sponsorship and business from endorsements with Nike, Herbalife, Clear shampoo, and his own CR7 clothing brand.

Perhaps the most interesting inclusion on the top 10 list is tennis great Roger Federer, who occupies seventh spot, despite only making $700,000 in prize money due to a long-term injury absence. However, the 40-year-old Swiss made $90m away from the court through Uniqlo, Rolex, Wilson, and Mercedes, while his investment in Swiss shoe brand On paid off big time after the company went public in September and raised more than $600m.

The full top 10 list can be found in the photo gallery above. To move on to the next photo, click on the arrows or if using a mobile device, simply swipe.

Updated: May 12, 2022, 6:01 AM
EDITOR'S PICKS