- Roger Federer is the highest-paid athlete in the world for 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic took Lionel Messi off top spot in soccer, according to Forbes.
Roger Federer is the highest-paid athlete in the world for 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic took Lionel Messi off top spot in soccer, according to the annual Forbes list published Friday.
The great Swiss tennis player, the winner of a men’s record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, has earned $106.3 million over the past 12 months, including $100 million from endorsements, to step up four places and become the first player to top the list from his sport.
The top five were rounded out by soccer players Cristiano Ronaldo ($105 million), Messi ($104 million) and Neymar ($95.5 million), an American basketball player LeBron James ($88.2 million).
“The coronavirus pandemic has caused pay cuts for soccer stars Messi and Ronaldo, paving the way for a tennis player to rank for the first time as the highest-paid athlete in the world,” Forbes senior editor Kurt Badenhausen said.
“Roger Federer is the perfect business pitchman, resulting in a remarkable portfolio of blue-chip products worth $100 million a year for the great tennis.”
Japan’s Naomi Osaka ($37.4 million), ranked 29th on the list, has outperformed fellow tennis player Serena Williams ($36 million) as the highest-earning female athlete in the world.
The only women to be on the list were Osaka and Williams.
Basketball players have led all sports among the top 100, with 35 players. American football had 31 spots, none higher than six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady ($45 million) who finished in 25th place.
Soccer was the next most-represented sport with 14 teams, followed by tennis (six), boxing and mixed martial arts (five), golf (four), motor racing (three), and baseball and cricketing with one each.
The financial repercussions have varied by sport and by the league for some. Salaries for MLB players were dramatically cut although NFL players have yet to be impacted. Some soccer players in the UK’s Premier League did not take a pay cut while wages declined by as much as 70 percent in Spain’s La Liga. Weaker Formula 1 team cut wages for drivers while richer teams still have to hold back some salary. Boxers such as Canelo Alvarez and Anthony Joshua have lost out on $30 million paydays with canceled fights.
The top 100 earned a combined $1.1 billion from endorsements, memorabilia, and appearance fees, up 11 percent from last year, in addition to a 12 percent rise in 2019. Nike has the most stars on the contract list, with 51 of the top 100 being capped by the $30 million-plus signing deal with LeBron James by the sneaker giant. Adidas sponsors 16 top 100 athletes including those under its brand Reebok. Forbes will be able to document 13 athletes sponsored by PepsiCo and its brands Gatorade and Mountain Dew.
You can find the whole report here.