Virat Kohli remained the only Indian in the 2020 Forbes magazine list of highest-paid athletes in the world while Roger Federer climbed to the top of the charts for the first time in his career with pre-tax earnings of $106.3 million in the past year.
The 100 highest-paid athletes earned a combined $3.6 billion this year, which marked a drop of 9% from the 2019 figures and a decline for the first time in four years, according to the Forbes feature on the richest sportspersons around the world.
Kohli made a jump of more than 30 places from 2019 as his total of $26 million put him at 66th place in the list. In 2019 too, Kohli was the only Indian in top 100 (at 100th place) with estimated earnings of $21m from endorsements and $4m from salary and winnings, taking his total tally to $25m. Ranked 83rd on 2018’s list, Kohli had slipped to the 100th spot despite an increase of $1m in endorsements.
Forbes top 100 richest athletes:
1. Roger Federer: $106.3 million (Endorsements: $100m, Salary/winnings: $6.3 million)
2. Cristiano Ronaldo: $105 million (Endorsements: $45m, Salary/winnings: $60 million)
3. Lionel Messi: $104 million (Endorsements: $32m, Salary/winnings: $72 million)
66. Virat Kohli: $26 million (Endorsements: $24m, Salary/winnings: $2 million)
Federer is the first tennis player to land at No 1 in the list that has been drawn up since *1990. The Swiss star pocketed $100 million off the court, because of his deals with Uniqlo, Credit Suisse and Mercedes-Benz and 10 other partners, the report added. He moved up from fifth in 2019. His previous best showing was second in 2013.
Basketball players led all sports with 35 players among the top 100 followed by 31 American football players. In an analysis of the top 100 list, another Forbes report added: “Global soccer had 14 athletes, followed by tennis with six, boxing and golf four each and racing three. Virat Kohli ($26 million) and Conor McGregor ($48 million) were the lone representatives from cricket and mixed martial arts for the fifth straight year.”
The list featured athletes from 21 nations and 10 sports.
Football superstars Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, who have traded the top spot three of the past four years, took the second and third spots. The duo earned a combined $209 million in the past 12 months, which represented a $28 million drop from 2019. The reduction is due to salary cuts at many European football clubs when league play was halted in March.
“The coronavirus pandemic triggered salary cuts for soccer stars Messi and Ronaldo, clearing the way for a tennis player to rank as the world’s highest-paid athlete for the first time,” said Kurt Badenhausen, senior editor at Forbes, according to Reuters adding that the 20-time Grand Slam champion is the “perfect pitchman for companies, resulting in an unparalleled endorsement portfolio.”
Earlier, Forbes informed that Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka has become the world’s highest-paid female athlete, making $37.4 million (34.3 million euros) in the past 12 months for an earnings record.
The 22-year-old Asian star, a two-time Grand Slam champion, edged US rival Serena Williams by $1.4 million in prize money and endorsement income over the past year.
Both shattered the old single-year earnings mark of $29.7 million set in 2015 by Russia’s Maria Sharapova, who retired in February with five Grand Slam titles, including a career Slam.
Brazilian footballer Neymar was fourth overall on $95.5 million, $25 million from endorsements, while NBA star LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers was fifth on $88.2 million, $60 million of that from endorsements.
NBA star Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors was sixth on $74.4 million with former teammate Kevin Durant next on $63.9 million.
Tiger Woods, the reigning Masters champion and a 15-time major winner, was eighth on the list and tops among golfers at $62.3 million, all but $2.3 million from sponsor deals.
Woods topped the Forbes list a record 12 times before an infidelity scandal helped end his run.
Two NFL quarterbacks rounded out the top 10 with Kirk Cousins ninth at $60.5 million and Carson Wentz 10th on $59.1 million.
Federer, who spent a record 310 weeks as world number one, reached 18 of 19 Grand Slam finals from 2005-2010.
Only Woods has joined Federer in making $100 million in sponsor deals in a single year.
Federer’s newest deal is with Swiss running shoe On, where he is an investor, but several sponsors have been with him for more than a decade, including Rolex, Credit Suisse, Mercedes-Benz and Wilson.
A split with Nike in 2018 opened Federer to Japanese apparel brand Uniqlo’s 10-year deal worth $300 million.
(With AFP inputs)
Correction: The article originally said 1980 was the first year the Forbes list was started. It has been updated.