McGregor highest-paid athlete ahead of Messi in Forbes list

Conor McGregor was the world’s highest-paid athlete over the last year ahead of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, according to the annual Forbes list.

During the 12-month period ending May 1, 2021, Irish MMA fighter McGregor earned $180m (£128m), a figure which Forbes said includes $158m (£112m) from endorsements and the recent sale of the majority stake of his whiskey brand.

He made just $22m (£15m) inside the Octagon – McGregor lost his rematch against Dustin Poirier in January this year in Abu Dhabi.

It is the 32-year-old’s first time at No 1 and his second appearance in the top 10 – McGregor was named at No 4 with $99m (£70m) in 2018 after the fight against Floyd Mayweather.

McGregor recently claimed he had held talks about buying a stake in Celtic from their principal shareholder Dermot Desmond, adding that he could do “big things for a club” and also said that he likes Manchester United.

Lionel Messi reacts to Barcelona's shock Granada defeat
Lionel Messi earned £92m over the last 12 months

Barcelona and Argentina forward Messi was second on the list and set a record as the highest-earning footballer after bringing home $130m (£92m), while Portugal and Juventus forward Ronaldo earned $120m (£85m) to sit third among the top 10 highest-paid athletes.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott earned $107.5m/£76m to make his way into the top five

NFL quarterback Dak Prescott ($107.5 m/£76m) of the Dallas Cowboys and four-times NBA champion LeBron James ($96.5 million) rounded off the top five.

LeBron James
LeBron James finished in the top five of Forbes’ list of highest paid athletes

Just outside the top five were PSG and Brazil forward Neymar at sixth ($95m/£67.5m), 20-time tennis Grand Slam champion Roger Federer at seventh ($90m/£64m), and seven-time F1 championship winner Lewis Hamilton ($82m/£58m) finished eighth in the list.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Tom Brady with $76m (£54m) and Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant $75m (£53m) made up the rest of the top 10.

Lewis Hamilton earned an estimated £58m in the last 12 months

Forbes said its on-the-field earnings figures include all prize money, salaries and bonuses earned during the 12-month period while off-the-field earnings are an estimate of sponsorship deals, appearance fees and licensing income.

In April, Barcelona topped the Forbes list for the 20 most valuable football clubs at £3.46bn ($4.76bn), narrowly ahead of their La Liga rivals Real Madrid’s valuation of £3.45bn ($4.75bn).

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