Ronaldo, Messi earned over Sh134b between them in the last decade
Over the last 10 years we have seen astonishing increases in the amount of money poured into sports, ranging from TV deals involving football’s most popular tournaments, to some of boxing’s biggest bouts.
It trickles down to competitors and with the added exposure of image rights and endorsements, the top sports stars are earning more now than they ever have.
But who has earned the most from the decade? Looking back at previous annual lists compiled by Forbes, Sportsmail reveals the best paid athletes from 2010 to 2019.
10. Lewis Hamilton – Sh39 billion
For a man whose day job over the past half-decade has seen him rarely spend time outside the top three, it is unfamiliar territory for Britain’s greatest racing driver to only be squeezing into a top 10. Five world championships for Mercedes have made Hamilton the greatest racing driver on the planet but throughout the last 10 years he has always been recognised as one of the best talents in Formula One.
It is consistency that sees him end the decade on the rich list as he only reached the annual top 10 once in 2017, again placing 10th.
9. Manny Pacquiao - Sh40 billion
Pacquiao started the decade as boxing’s biggest draw but despite featuring as high as the second best paid athlete in 2012 and 2015, he can only just about make the cut for the top 10.
A key pay day towards him making this list was the £122m he bagged from facing Floyd Mayweather in the middle of the decade.
With plans to retire in 2021, he will go down as one of the greatest boxers ever - even if his current day job is being Senator of the Philippines.
8. Neymar - Sh41 billion
It’s been a rapid trajectory for Neymar in this decade, and he already had a solid foundation for it when he was identified as the next big star to emerge from South America while at Santos. But his pay at the Brazilian side hardly dented the world’s best paid stars until he earned a money-spinning move to Barcelona in 2013.
While at the Nou Camp he often featured around the top 20 but it was not until his sensational move to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017 that he started commanding some of the biggest wages and endorsements.
His income for 2019 saw him collect over £76m, putting him third for the year.
7. Phil Mickelson - Sh49 billion
A constant feature on the list of highest paid athletes throughout the decade underline not just Mickelson’s consistency, but also his staying power in golf.
From 2010 to 2016 he was a comfortable regular in the top 10 highest paid athletes before he eventually slipped to 12th in 2017.
Since then he has been hanging in and around the top 20 and still earns around £37m each year.
6. Tiger Woods - Sh63 billion
Ending an 11-year major drought to win the Masters this year was one of the greatest sporting comebacks of all time from Woods, following a decade of injuries and personal matters that left many wondering if he could ever get back to his best.
Looking at his annual salary throughout the last 10 years though and you could be forgiven for wondering what the fuss was all about.
The 43-year-old was a constant in the top 10, topping 2010, 2011 and 2013, until 2015 and even since then he has been comfortably in the top 20, placing 11th this year.
5. Roger Federer – Sh 65 billion
For years many have predicted the ‘beginning of the end’ for Federer, and time after time he proves the doubters wrong.
It is remarkable that in a sport as physically demanding as tennis, the 38-year-old will end the decade pretty much where he started it - as one of the top three players in the world.
The trophies and prize money may not have been as regular as they were but ditching Nike for a sportswear deal with Uniqlo certainly helped ensure the Swiss star stayed among the big earners.
4. Lionel Messi – Sh 69 billion
One of the biggest surprises is that for a player who was already considered a global star in 2010, he only cemented a constant run inside the top 10 earners from as late as 2013, by which point he had already won La Liga six times and the Champions League three times with Barcelona.
Since 2016, though, he has never been outside the top three highest paid sport stars and ends the decade the best paid of them all, earning £97m a year.
That figure includes £70m from salary and bonuses, with the remainder in endorsements.
3. LeBron James – Sh 69 billion
Along with Federer, James is the only athlete to appear inside the top 10 highest paid stars every single year of the decade.
Although he ends the period with his lowest placing of eighth, it’s been a sensational 10 years for the LA Lakers star who, in spells with Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers, has won three NBA championships and also been named the NBA’s most valuable player three times over the same period.
Even at 34 years old, his pay days are still set to increase at the Lakers and he will go down as one of basketball’s best ever players.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo - Sh73 billion
Ronaldo started the decade as the 13th highest paid athlete with an annual salary of £35.8m following his blockbuster move from Manchester United to Real Madrid.
But after breaking the top 10 a year later he has not left it since.
While at Madrid he was the top paid athlete in 2016 and 2017 before taking his annual earnings past £76m-a-year when he joined Juventus in the summer of 2018.
1. Floyd Mayweather - Sh89 billion
Two huge paydays helped land Mayweather top spot, the first being his £230m takings from his 2015 bout with Manny Pacquiao.
The second blockbuster payday arrived when he defeated UFC star Conor McGregor two years later, pocketing him £217.5m.
Eight other fights across the decade kept the income flowing before he retired unbeaten at 50-0 after the McGregor bout. When your nickname is ‘money’ is it any wonder he ended the decade as the best paid athlete? -Dailymail