Rory McIlroy and Conor McGregor on list of 100 top paid athletes in the world

Two Irish sport stars have been named in Forbes magazine’s list of the world’s highest paid athletes in the world.

While unsurprisingly it was soccer stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi who topped the list, golfer Rory McIllroy and UFC fighter Conor McGregor were also included among the world’s earning elite.

Dubliner Conor McGregor was in 85th position with €19.3m. The 27-year-old was the only mixed martial arts fighter to make the top 100.

Rory McIlroy made it into the top 20, in 17th place, with €37m. The 27-year-old from Co Down, who claimed his first Irish Open last month, earned €30m from endorsements and €6.6m from salary/winnings.

In total, the top 100 earning athletes earned €2.7bn between them over the past year in endorsements and salaries/winnings.

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy

Real Madrid forward Ronaldo topped the list at €77m — a combination of €49m in salary and €28m in endorsements. The 31-year-old from Portugal is a marketing juggernaut with a new Nike deal worth €11m annually plus endorsement partners such as Tag Heuer and Herbalife plus his own lines of suits, cologne, shirts, shoes, underwear and hotels.

Barcelona striker Messi, who sat out Argentina’s opening victory at the Copa America Centenario this week, was next at €72m, with €25m of that from sponsorships.

Others in the top 10 include tennis players Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, golfers Phil Mickleson and Jordan Spieth, US basketballers LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant, and American footballer Cam Newton. Boxer Floyd Mayweather and golfer Tiger Woods who both previously topped the list came in at 16th and 12th respectively.

The top 100 include 65 Americans and athletes from 22 other nations encompassing 10 sports, with the most from baseball at 26.

World number one Serena Williams, runner-up at this year’s French and Australian Opens, was the highest earning woman at €25.5m, 40th overall, with doping-banned Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova 88th on €19m.

British Formula One racer Lewis Hamilton was 11th on €40.6m, only €3.5m from endorsements.

Former world number one Woods, a 14-time major golf champion, was 12th on $45.3 million, all but about $274,000 of it from sponsorship deals.

Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, who seeks more Olympic gold in two months at Rio, was 32nd at €29m.


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