Sports has always been a lucrative avenue for businesses and tycoons to invest in which keeps their brand name and reputation in place but over the years we have seen a huge influx of funds from nations, especially those that are trying to portray a positive image of themselves to the world.
One such nation that has been churning out money like anything in this regard is Saudi Arabia which has opened its banks to attract global sports icons from around the world to play for their domestic clubs. Among all the sports football and golf are the sports in which they have invested heavily, as a result of Cristiano Ronaldo's plays for Saudi Arabia’s domestic club Al-Nassr in their domestic football league.
In January 2023, Cristiano Ronaldo made a huge move, joining the Saudi Arabian team Al-Nassr for a mind-blowing contract worth $215 million a year! That's not all - he also became a trendsetter, attracting other top European players to the Saudi league.
This is making the league much more competitive and raising the level of football in the entire country. Apart from the contract, Ronaldo raked in $60 making it a whopping $275 million deal in total, making him the highest-paid athlete in the world. It is $72 million more than the second-place finisher, star Spanish golfer Jon Rahm.
Messi sits in the 3rd spot
Ronaldo’s ultimate counterpart Lionel Messi ranks 3rd on the list with annual earnings of $130 million in the year. Though Messi earned the same as Ronaldo by way of advertisement and sponsors (approx. $60 million) his annual contract with David Beckham’s newly founded club Inter Miami is around $70 million which is less than half of that of Cristiano Ronaldo.
LeBron James, the renowned star of the Los Angeles Lakers, secured the fourth position with earnings of $126 million. He was closely followed by two footballing icons: Kylian Mbappe from Paris Saint-Germain, who earned $125 million, and Neymar from Al-Hilal, with earnings amounting to $121 million.