Despite a near global shutdown of sports in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, a record four athletes each earned $100 million or more in the past year, according to new data from Forbes.
MMA star Conor McGregor is atop the list of the world’s 10 highest-earning athletes, having made $180 million in 2020. This is the 32-year-old’s first time in the No. 1 slot — and it isn’t just because of his fighting earnings.
Inside the Octagon, he made $22 million — and it was from a fight he lost, to Dustin Poirier at UFC 257 in January. McGregor’s earnings came from outside ventures, including endorsements and the sale of his whiskey brand Proper No. Twelve.
According to Forbes, his business portfolio also includes DraftKings, the video game Dystopia: Contest of Heroes and the lifestyle brand Roots of Fight.
McGregor joins three other superstar athletes who also made more than $100 million total earnings this past year: soccer stars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.
Messi is No. 2 on the Forbes list, having made $130 million in 2020. The Barcelona star made $97 million on the field — but his endorsements are also a significant source of wealth. Messi has a lifetime deal with Adidas, as well as a clothing line designed by Ginny Hilfiger and endorsement deals with Tata Motors, Pepsi, Gillette and Turkish Airlines.
Messi is joined by fellow soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo, whose earnings were put at $120 million. In 2020, the Juventus star made $70 million on the field, according to Forbes. The 36-year-old has a lifetime deal with Nike and is behind the CR7 business of branded clothing, accessories, hotels and gyms.
Prescott and LeBron James round out the top five. Prescott made $107.5 million over the past year, while James amassed $96.5 million.
Forbes’ on-the-field earnings figures include all prize money, salaries and bonuses earned between May 1, 2020, and May 1, 2021.